Microplastic is a term that has become known in recent years. It describes plastic particles that are smaller than five millimeters in size. The tiny fibers enter the ecosystem and cause great damage there.
Every wash produces microplastics
Microplastics are produced in various ways - including washing. Clothes made of synthetic materials release microplastics with every wash cycle, and not in short supply: a study by the British University of Leeds found that 500,000 to six million microplastic fibers are released from clothes per wash cycle. Synthetic materials are artificial fibers based on fossil fuels. Particularly popular representatives in our clothing are polyester or nylon, both of which are made from petroleum.
The problem is that the filters of sewage treatment plants, can not catch these tiny pieces and so they end up in the wastewater. In landfills or in the wild, plastic waste decomposes very slowly: it is not biodegradable and breaks down into smaller and smaller microplastic particles over hundreds of years.
Microplastics harm the environment and humans
The spread on our planet is enormous. For example, researchers have found microplastic pieces even in remote areas such as Antarctica and even in the placenta of pregnant women. This points out that microplastics are not only a real threat to nature, but that the fibers accumulate in our bodies.
If the microplastic particles enter the sea via rivers and lakes, pollutants are deposited on them. Sea creatures swallow the particles, which harms their digestive systems. This creates a negative spiral that impacts the entire ecosystem. We also eat fish that is contaminated with microplastics. What consequences this has for humans and their health is not yet fully understood.
Four tips to reduce microplastics when washing.
If you take a few tips to heart when washing, you can minimize microplastics. It's not an absolute solution to the problem, but each reduction helps.
1. air out synthetic clothes
With every wash you save water and electricity, you also reduce the number of microplastic fibers that come out of your clothes. That's why shirts, sweaters and pants made of synthetic fibers like polyester or nylon should not be thrown straight into the washing machine, but hung up and aired out. (More tips for sustainable washing / link)
2. one shirt less
Our closets are overflowing with clothes that we hardly wear. It's the synthetic fibers that have made cheap mass production and thus our overconsumption possible in the first place. Sustainable clothing is that which we wear for a long time. But if you really need a new garment, better go for biodegradable natural fibers - preferably organically grown.
3 Washo instead of detergents with microplastics
Many conventional detergents also contain microplastics - which ruins any efforts. At Washo, we therefore rely on a formula that does not contain microplastics: for your sake, for nature's sake and for the sake of animals!
4. with innovations against microplastic
Meanwhile, there are filters for washing machines that catch some of the microplastic fibers. Another possibility are so-called wash bags: The laundry is put into the bag and washed with it, the bag holds back a part of the particles similar to the washing machine filters. The collected microplastic is then disposed of with the household waste.