With every single wash, tiny fibres, many being plastic, are shed from our clothes in wash water and out into our oceans. As many as 700,000 microfibres, including polyester, nylon, acrylic and polyamide are released in one wash - making up 35% of all microplastics found polluting our natural world.
For such small fibres, the problem is huge.
An estimated 9.4 trillion fibres are released from washes every week in the UK alone. Where do they end up? Our beaches and oceans. So tiny, our old garment threads are being ingested by fish. In fact, the Marine Conservation Society reports that 63% of Shrimp in the North Sea contain these synthetic fibres. Which means, they’re heading for our digestive tracts too. So some of your shirt, may well end up in your shellfish.
Stopping Machine to Marine - How to Help
Sign the petition
The most effective way to stop our threads entering the ocean is for washing machines to be fitted with microplastic filtres. France has paved the way for this, making it law by 2025. Our government is behind. The Marine Conservation Society has set up a petition asking the UK government to bring in legislation that requires all manufacturers of washing machines to install microfibre filtres in all new domestic and commercial machines by 2023. Only by introducing legislation can we be sure to make a national difference on radically reducing our microplastic pollution.
Other ways to help include:
- Invest in a Guppy Friend. These bags can be placed into your machines, working in the same way as lint is collected from tumble dryers. They’ll capture most of the microfibres shedding from every load of laundry, ready to be emptied into the bin, drastically reducing the microfibres heading straight for the ocean.
- Buying 100% natural clothes like cotton and wool (these microfibres will naturally degrade).
- Only wash clothes when dirty or smelly (don’t make it a habit to just place them in the wash basket after each wear).
- Pay attention to labels. The worst shedder is polyester fleece, but nylon and polyester fabric are also bad.
- Ensure your washing machine is full. The less room clothes have to move around, the less likely microfibres will break off.
- Ditch the tumble dryer.
- Avoid ‘microfibre’ cleaning products. These microfibre cloths and tea towels are some of the worst offenders for shredding their fibres.