Most of us have a pretty good idea by now of just how much plastic ends up in the oceans, from fishing nets, straws, water bottles and more. But did you know that just washing your clothes may be putting millions of tiny plastic fibres into the oceans?
That’s right, every time you wash your clothes you could be releasing up to 10-15 million tiny plastic fibres directly into the water system. There are many factors at play as to exactly how much will be released, from the type of washing machine, the clothing’s materials or how full the load is, but regardless even a small amount will add up over time.
We're sorry to bring bad news to your day, but don't worry, we have some tips to help!
The threads are so small and they can drain out of our washing machines and through wastewater treatment plants into the sea(1). These come from clothes made from synthetic fibres such as polyester, rayon and nylon, this includes recycled clothes made with any plastic materials.
Not only do they make it to the sea, but once there they can act like sponges, soaking up other toxins in the water increasing their harm(2). Ocean dwelling animals are then eating these toxic fibres, that can then get passed up through the eco system.
We already know that the fashion industry is a major polluter but even when trying to buy conscious recycled clothes they will come with a cost to the environment. Not all clothing will shed equally even if they are made from the same material, it depends on the age, how woven the fabric is and other factors.
So you may be thinking ‘hey wait a minute, doesn’t HeartCure sell recycled plastic clothing?’… Yes, we do! Our newly released recycled blend has 40% recycled PET plastic bottles inside, the other 60% is made from off cuts of organic cotton.
Which is why when we learnt of this impact we felt it important to share. Creating new clothing made from polyester is obviously not a good option, stepping in and creating clothing made from plastic that would otherwise likely go on to directly pollution oceans is better. But we know now that we can do even more to help stop this cycle of waste.
You may be thinking the answer is to purchase more natural clothing or less clothes in general, which is great but for many these are luxuries and for a solution to work it needs to be accessible.
So we’re not here to say lets never wear synthetic fibres again, but more to better understand the problem and how we can reduce the impact!
So what can we do?
Wash less and at low temp
We already advocate for wearing your clothes more before you wash them, but just take extra care when wearing those higher risk fabrics. Make them last before washing, then be sure to wash at a lower temperature and at a lower spin speed!
2. Full Washing Machine;
This once is quite simple, the more items in the machine the less friction between clothes which in turn equals less shedding!
3. Air Dry don’t tumble dry
Again something else we strongly advocate for, it helps keep clothes in better shape for longer, and will reduce the amount of fibres being released.
4. Don’t keep buying new clothes - especially not plastic ones.
It goes without saying that every new piece of clothing comes with an environmental cost. Those made from synthetic fibres, an even higher one at that. So where possible, shop second hand, wear often and love what you do buy as the first few washes are likely to shed the most.
5. Trap the fibres in the machine!
Use a GuppyFriend or similar to trap the fibres in the machine before they even get the chance to get into the water system. Buy yours here!