Imagine...

...bad news right?

We'd see protests, conservation efforts, and heck, maybe even some legislation to keep this from happening.

Now imagine the above scenario with a small twist - no one knows they are adding to the problem, because the plastic they are tossing into the ocean is invisible, almost completely undetectable, & yet still totally harmful to our environment and health.

Sounds like a B-rated horror movie, huh? Unfortunately...

this is not an imaginary issue.

plastic pollution
2017 study

Why Natural Fibers?

Natural Fibers are just what they sound like - fibers that could be found in nature.
They are biodegradable and come from plants or animals. The most common natural fibers are cotton, wool, and silk (we'll talk about each of those in a few).

Synthetic Fibers are man-made from a mix of chemicals. The compounds used to make these fibers come from petroleum-based chemicals, and some of the most popular are polyester, rayon, nylon, and acrylics. These fibers are NOT biodegradable.

Manufacturing synthetic fibers is an energy-intensive process that releases lung-damaging pollutants such as nitrogen and sulfur oxides, particulates, carbon monoxide, and heavy metals, as well as climate-warming carbon dioxide into the air.

microplastics
microfibers

...so what's the big deal?

Even though the definition allows these pollutants to be up to 5 mm, the vast majority of them are microscopic, & they're everywhere. 

Like floating in the air, in all our tap water, eaten by a fish that's eaten by a bigger fish that's eaten by us, never getting out of our ecosystem, worse than glitter (which is a microplastic btw) EVERYWHERE

...and they come from our laundry.

Scientific Studies
Statement from the overall results of the study

In this 2016 experiment "detergent-free washing experiments were conducted and replicated in both front- and top-load conventional home machines for five new and mechanically aged jackets or sweaters” [2].

Water used to wash the clothes was filtered, the filters were collected, and "Across all treatments, the recovered microfiber mass per garment ranged from approximately 0 to 2 g, or exceeding 0.3% of the unwashed garment mass" [2].

In other words, the garments tested would shed about 3 percent of their mass in microfibers for every 10 washes.

laundry

Analysis of microfibers in waste water from washing machines

This thesis study used similar methods to the previous experiment, this time comparing the microfibers released by a new polyester jacket to those released by a well-worn one.

The findings were as follows:

"It is found that single synthetic fleece jacket releases 250,000 microfibers when washed. The old jackets release more microfibers than that of new jacket due to the weakening of the fibers. It is also found that if 100,000 fleece jackets are washed then an average 30 kg of microfibers are released and later found in the water across the globe” [3]
 
"it can be concluded that the older the synthetic jacket, the more microfiber is released compared to the microfiber release of the new jacket...According to the experiment, the aged jacket releases 1.6 times more than the new synthetic jacket" [3]
ocean

Primary Microplastics in the Oceans: A Global Evaluation of Sources

This study conducted in 2017 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature set out to determine what the biggest sources of microplastic pollution in our oceans are.

They concluded:

laundry probs

TWO. THIRDS. 

That's almost TWICE the amount contributed by the runner-up, erosion of tires! (34.8%)


more information:

You're probably already tired of reading by now, so if for some reason you're like me & are fascinated / terrified by these studies click here for a list containing a rabbit hole of information, stress, hope, & what you can do to help.


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