Whenever you wash clothes made from synthetic materials (less elegantly: made from plastic), they shed microfibres. Microfibers are not efficiently filtered by regular water treatment plants, which means that they end up in rivers, lakes, oceans, bioaccumulating toxins, and poisoning everything along the food chain. 🐳🐋🐬🐡🐠🐟🌎 A fleece jacket can shed a million fibers in a single wash. But also clothes from mixed materials (including recycled polyester) release fibers with every wash.
Synthetic fibers are everywhere, and the apparel industry has, on the whole, shown little response. What do? * It will be hard to bypass synthetic materials altogether, especially when we’re talking about outdoor or athletic gear, or when you want vegan options. But as with other plastics, if we were using them only where all other options have been exhausted, the problem would be considerably smaller.
* Wash less often, try airing or spot-cleaning; also saves energy and water.
* Try to reduce frequency of use (and hence, washing cycles). I can see organic cotton won’t get you comfortably through an antarctic expedition, but do you really need antarctic expedition gear to get to the bus stop on a September morning? Highly specialised equipment should be about specialised functions, not about a lifestyle statement.
* When a machine wash is necessary, don’t overdose your detergent, steering clear from aggressive substances in particular, don’t wash too hot, and spin gently. * Watch out for consumer-based solutions - such as the guppyfriend, the CoraBall (which, as I gather, is under production now) and other options currently under development. * Spread the word and let your voice be heard - despite a growing awareness on plastic waste, microfiber pollution is still somewhat off the radar. There are tons and tons of synthetics around, and they’ll continue to release fibers for years - while we can only guess at the extent of pollution that is in evidence already. Contact the companies you buy from, and politely ask how they intend to address this issue on a structural level.