5 Ways to Reduce Microfibre Pollution from Fast Fashion. With fast fashion churning out plastic-based materials such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic (about 60% worldwide), it’s unsurprising that the number of microscopic fragments (known as microfibres) pollutes our deepest oceans, and even glaciers!
These tiny synthetic fibres are shed from our clothing during washing, so, as sustainability advocates, STUDIO EVA D offers critical insight into how YOU can reduce microfibre pollution.
1. Choose Natural Fabrics
Natural materials are known to break down much easier compared to their synthetic counterparts. These fibres are composed of biodegradable organic materials. When exposed to the natural environment, they undergo microbial decomposition aided by bacteria, fungi and other organisms (some fabrics can even be found in bird nests). With a breakdown sometimes as quickly as a few months, the environmental impact is minimal.
However, synthetic fibres derived from petrochemicals are not biodegradable because they are chemically stable and do not readily decompose through natural microbial processes, meaning they could take years to decompose.
When buying garments, do your research! Supporting brands that are committed to sustainability. Organic certifications and labels that indicate the natural materials used ensure the quality and durability of the product.
Read our blog on ‘Materials for a greener future: The latest developments in sustainable material sourcing’ to learn more about the significant advancements in natural materials for sustainable clothing.
2. Opt for Hand Washing
Hand washing offers various environmental benefits, including reducing microfibres pollution from your laundry routine. Researchers have found that machine methods release more than five times more microplastics than traditional methods.
Remember, when handwashing, use a gentle detergent specifically formulated for delicate fabrics, and follow proper techniques such as soaking, mild agitation, and rinsing thoroughly. Always handle the garments with care to avoid excessive stretching or wringing.
3. Utilise Fabric Softeners or Conditioners
Tumble drying alone contributes to the release of approximately 120 million airborne microfibres every year, but studies find that using some anti-wrinkle fabric conditioners can cut fibre emissions by 36%.
With its mechanical action agitating garments and causing friction between the fibres, accompanied by weakened fabrics due to high temperatures and drying time, the accumulation of dryer lint is collected and eventually disposed of into the environment if not correctly captured.
Fabric softeners and conditioners lubricate fibres, making them less prone to breakage and shedding during the wash cycle. This lubrication maintains fibre quality and water absorption and reduces static, particularly for synthetic clothing.
4. Use Washing Bags or Filters
Washing bags are specifically designed to organise your garments, extend their life and, with the latest sustainable technologies, capture microfibres.
Products like The Guppy Friend take the eco-markets by storm, meaning your synthetic products can be washed without the guilt of having fibres shed into the water system.
5. Wash Clothes Less Frequently and Air Dry
Washing and drying your clothes contributes to an average of 6% of home energy use and a large chunk of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Reducing the amount you wash your clothes offers various benefits to your garments and the environment. How we wash our clothes can reduce energy usage, chemical exposure and those pesky microfibres.
If you are in the market for new appliances, consider ones that are much more energy efficient, this can ultimately save you money. Opt for colder temperatures and more oversized loads when putting on a wash. Efficient settings such as shorter wash cycles and washing clothes at 20°C can save you approximately 66% of energy use per load.
The dryer is one of the bigger culprits to the contribution of microfibres during your wash cycle.
Whenever possible, air dry your clothes. This process reduces garment friction and the amount of fibres being shed.
Wear what you love. Cherish it and it lasts a long time.
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