The dirty secrets of the fashion industry

It’s no secret that plastic products we use end up in the ocean. But you might not be aware of one major source of that pollution: our clothes.

Around 60% of material made into clothing is plastic, including polyester, acrylic and nylon textiles. When washed, these clothing materials shed tiny plastic fibres called microfibres, a form of micro plastics. The use of washing machines alone cause around half a million tonnes of plastic microfibres to be released into the ocean every year. The effects of microplstic ingestion on marine life are catastrophic, causing starvation, stunted growth and broken down digestive systems.

-Fibre length and fabric density are two factors that determine the amount of microfibres that will break free during washing, finishing treatments such as coating have proven to reduce shedding by up to 50%

-Fabrics that have been washed many times will shed more microfibres than they did when new, so simply washing less can help cause less shedding

-Until new materials are designed, reducing shedding and capturing fibres before they enter the environment can reduce potential harm.

It might seem like there’san easy solution to the problem of our clothes shedding plastic: Just buy natural fibers, or fewer clothes overall a similarly class-deaf message to insist everyone need to be wearing all organic cotton, wool, or hemp clothes.