Monday 30 September 2019

Microplastics in Your Wash

Why washing your Clothes could be adding to Plastic Pollution
As we are becoming more and more aware, plastic is finding its way into your home and garden in many ways. Not just what we see in packaging and plastic derived products, but also hidden in clothes, the air, rain water, salt and even food.

A recent BBC documentary showed lint collected from synthetic clothing (for example polyester, acrylic) after each wash was full of microfibres ,which are little plastic fragments that can be even tinier than the width of a human hair.

These minuscule fibres contain micro plastics which flush down our drains through a daily wash. They then make their way out into the sea, where marine life inadvertently takes them in as mistaken food. We are eating fish and crustaceans, ingesting some of the plastic ourselves.

Clouds can pick up fragments and rain plastics down on us. Even the arctic has not come away unscathed with snow being found to contain plastic particles.

Sea salt is being contaminated too plus a BBC program found plastic particles circulating in the air of households in the UK.  It's shocking stuff. 

Washing Machine ImageProf Richard Thompson, who studies marine micro plastics at Plymouth university, found that each UK washing load - 6kg (13lb) of fabric - could release: 

*140,000 fibres from polyester-cotton blend
*Nearly half a million fibres from polyester
*More than 700,000 fibres from acrylic


Bio-plastics are a possible solution, for instance trees, fermented food waste, even pineapple could be used to make bio-plastics or vegan leather (see BBC link above for more details!)

The article above mentions though that alternatives like cotton, can be hard work for the environment too. Professor Blackburn from the University of Leeds states that, 'Growing 1kg of cotton consumes the amount of water you've drunk in your lifetime.'
So what can we do? 
Making Roots site has some useful tips on reducing plastic pollution from your clothes. I hope that microfibre catching wash bags will become more widely available, as at the moment they seem to be quite expensive.

There's an insightful video from Friends of the Earth plus useful tips on how to reduce microfibres being washed down the drains here at: 

Maybe check out this video too if you have a quick moment!