Many people believe recycling plastics to make clothing is a great way to keep plastic out of the landfills and oceans. Unfortunately, many of the plastics used in clothing are just as harmful to the environment, as the original plastic bottle. Microfibers are one of the latest trends in the textile industry that is causing environmental degradation.
From clothing and bed linens – to towels and furniture – microfiber is everywhere. Microfibers are tiny plastic threads that come from synthetic fabrics. Fabrics such as; acrylic, nylon, rayon, and polyester all contain microfibers. These microfibers – when laundered – end up in water systems. Unfortunately, local water treatment facilities don’t have screens small enough to filter these microfibers out – thus, causing them to end up in waterways and marine environments.
Facts on Microfiber:
- Microfibers make up 60% of all clothing fabrics worldwide.
- A single jacket can release up to 250,000 microfibers, when washed.
- The largest microfibers are smaller than a strand of hair – and the smallest are half the size of a red blood cell.
- According to a 2011 study, microfibers make up 85% of all human made debris found on shorelines around the world.
- Microfibers are showing up in the flesh of fish and shellfish sold all over the world.
- A study of fish markets in California – found that 67% of all species tested had microfibers in them.
- At least 6.8 billion microfibers flow into New York City’s harbor every single day.
- Top-load washers cause up to 170% more shedding than front load – and create more microscopic fibers that escape filtration systems.
How can I make an impact:
Tier 1: Global Goodness
- Avoid purchasing synthetic clothing. Nylon, rayon, polyester, spandex, acrylic, and acetate are all types of synthetic fabric.
- Buy clothing made from natural fibers such as organic cotton, hemp and linen.
- Wash synthetic clothing less frequently – this slows the breakdown of microfibers.
Tier 2: Planet Protector
- All of Tier 1
- Purchase a washing machine filter – these filters reduce the amount of microfibers that go down the drain.
- Watch “The Story of Stuff’s” video on Microfibers.
- Running your washer when full will creates less friction for breaking down fibers.
- Educate your friends and family on the dangers of microfibers.
Tier 3: Earth Angel
- All of Tier 1 & 2
- Lobby clothing manufacturers to reduce their use of synthetic fabrics.
- Purchase a Guppy Friend Bag. This bag catches the microfibers from being released into the water.
- Support the Rozalia Project in stopping microfiber pollution.
- Change is possible. After protesting the use of microbeads – Congress in 2015, passed legislation to ban the use of all microbeads – which was polluting our waterways and poisoning wildlife. Be The Change.