Whilst reading this blog, most likely you are wearing plastic. Yes, that’s what I said. There is plastic hiding in your clothes. If you don’t believe me and if your up for it, let’s do a test. First, you might have to stretch yourself into an unusual position to be able to read the label on your top and trousers. Can you see what it says? You have just checked. The clothes you have on today have a high percentage of polyester, nylon, acrylic and/or polyamide microfibres.
Thanks for playing with us, but the truth is we tricked you. It was easy to win. In fact, it would be rare that you were not wearing a garment made of synthetic materials. According to the not-for-profit Friends of the Earth, 64% of all clothing currently produced is made of microfibres derived from petroleum. We are talking about more than two thirds of all textile manufacturing worldwide.
WHY ARE SYNTHETIC MICROFIBRES A PROBLEM?
Synthetic microfibres that you may find in your wardrobe are finer than a human hair. This makes them some of the most dangerous microplastics out there and at the same time the most difficult to control. No doubt you have picked up a plastic bag that ended up floating around in the countryside. But, stop for a minute to think about how to collect the millions of microfibres that make up a simple lycra tshirt. Not such a easy exercise, right?
The biggest issue with these microplastics is that every single day a huge number of them end up in our seas and oceans. Each wash releases no more and no less than 17 million microfibres! All these little fibres go through our water purification plants with no problems and end up in our oceans. Once there, the problem just gets worse. On the one hand, they release toxins they have accumulated during their lifetime, thereby contaminating the marine environment. On the other, they enter the food chain starting with plankton that mistakes them for food.
Having said all that, microfibres do not just present a problem for marine life. In fact, they are everywhere: in rivers, in soil and even in the air we breathe. The reason for this is that it is extremely easy for these mircoplastics to come away from your clothes. Take a look yourself, put your jumper up to the light. Can you see all the tiny threads? What you are seeing are the millions of microfibres that sooner or later with end up in the surrounding environment.
RECYCLED PLASTIC GARMENTS: A SOLUTION THAT DOESN’T SOLVE ANYTHING
Faced with rising concerns about ocean pollution, it’s likely that you have noticed more and more clothing made from plastic waste retrieved from our oceans. Despite being well intentioned, these so-called sustainable options from recycled polyester fabrics are not the answer.
The microfibres used to make up the new fabric are still plastic after all and will end up back in the sea. This time they will be microscopic in size. Therefore, unfortunately by wearing recycled plastic clothing we are not solving the problem, instead we are making things worse.
6 STEPS TO HELP IN THE FIGHT AGAINST SYNTHETIC MICROFIBRES
You are now aware of how microfibres in your clothes affect the environment around you. You just have to try to reduce their impact. We will show you how:
1. Only buy the clothes you need
As you already know, one of our planet’s greatest enemies is consumerism. The more you buy, the more microfibres will be cast into our surroundings. Think of what you REALLY need, make yourself a minimal wardrobe and avoid impulse buys. Your pocket and the earth will thank you for it.
2. Try, as often as possible, to purchase garments made of natural fabrics
Once you have shrunk your wardrobe, keep in mind the type of clothing and accessories you buy. Fabrics such as cotton, linen, bamboo, and hemp (or wool and leather if you are not vegan) are excellent alternative choices to synthetic fabrics.
3. Extend the life of your wardrobe
Your grandmother was right when she told you to look after your clothes. This is always good advice. How? Put off washing your clothes by using a clothes brush with natural silk, bronze or latex bristles, protect your clothes from moth attacks with natural alternatives like these red cedar clothes hanger discs, and care for your clothes as if you wanted them to last you a lifetime.
4. Protect your clothes in the washing machine
Minimising the wear on our clothes during the wash is essential for reducing microfibre distribution as much as possible. To achieve this we have 3 basic tips. Fill your washing machine to avoid excess friction between clothes, decrease the spin revolutions and wash in cold water.
5. Air-dry your clothes
Dryers accelerate the wear and tear on our clothes and, like the washing machines, they release thousands of millions of microfibres during each drying cycle. Use your dryer less and if possible air dry your wash. Wooden pegs like these are also a better option.
6. Think beyond your clothes
Be aware that synthetic fibres are present in all types of textiles. From sofas, to curtains, to reusable fabric bags that claim to be sustainable (as an alternative we recommend using organic cotton bags). So, before deciding to purchase a new fabric product, be sure that it’s synthetics free.
We hope these tips to help in the fight against microfibres from your clothes have been useful. We are sure that from now on you will look at your wardrobe a little differently.
If you would like more tips and tricks on how to reduce plastic in your daily life don’t hesitate to join our community fighting for a plastic free world.