Did you know small plastic fragments that are shed from synthetic clothes when laundered end up in the sea and wider environment? The scale of the problem is large; every week millions of people wash their clothes, shedding these tiny particles. Too small to be caught by the machine’s filters, they flow into the sewage system and eventually into the ocean. Due to their small size, microplastic fibres are readily ingested by aquatic life, filling up their stomachs which can eventually cause death.
What can we do to prevent this happening?
Wash less – only wash clothes when they need it. This will also prolong the life of your clothes. Fill up your washing machine to the max: washing a full load results in less friction between the clothes and, therefore, fewer fibres are released. Use washing liquid instead of powder: the ‘scrub’ function of the grains of the powder result in loosening the fibres of clothes more than with liquid. Wash at a low temperature: when clothes are washed at a high temperature some fabrics are damaged, leading to the release of fibres. When cleaning the tumble dryer, do not flush the lint down the drain, throw it in the black bin.
Wear well – shop smarter and buy less. Does it go with the rest of your wardrobe? Is it well made? Avoid clothes that do not look like they will wear and wash well. Don’t throw clothes away if they only need mending. Take them to the Repair Café at the Community Centre if you can’t fix them yourself. Swap clothes with friends or your local social group. Donate unwanted clothes to a charity shop such as the Arthur Rank Hospice shop in Cottenham High St or drop off at a clothing bank. As long as they are clean and dry, even worn out clothes can be recycled at clothing banks.