The Problem With Synthetic Fibers (Yes, Microplastics)

... and how to reduce the negative impact caused by them.

If you read the article about fibers I wrote a while ago, you should know what synthetic fibers are. Since it was a long enough read in my opinion, I decided not to navigate too deeply the issue with them and reserve the matter to another article. Yes, this one.

Synthetics not only are not biodegradable but they also lose microparticles every time you put them in your washer and dryer which end in the drain and from there to the ocean.

Did you know that they have even been found inside fish and seafood sold for human consumption already back in 2015? I mean, maybe you’re vegetarian and don’t really care about eating plastic in fish but still, it’s bad! It’s really bad for the environment and the delicate balance of this ecosystem.

What Should Be Done?

Easy, limit our synthetic fiber purchases preferring items made of natural fibers, like cotton, linen and wool.

Otherwise, if we already have some garments in our closets or we want to purchase a pair of leggings or a jacket made of recycled polyester to reuse a small part of the huge amount of plastic bottles polluting our planet – think about Everlane’s ReNew collection or Girlfriend Collective’s activewear  – there’s something we still can do.

  1. Wash synthetic clothes less frequently. It may not be possible for athletic wear but totally doable with outwear.
  2. Fill up your washing machine. Washing a full load results in less friction between the clothes and fewer fibers released. Filling it more also means less frequent washes, so we’re also saving water and detergent. Win win!
  3. Use a liquid laundry soap instead of a powder one, since it acts as a scrub for your garments and allows more fibers to get loose.
  4. Wash them in cold water, high temperatures ruin your garments more quickly and release more fibers.
  5. Select low spins for your drier to create less friction between the clothes.
  6. Put the lint from the drier in your trashcan, don’t wash it down the drain.
  7. Buy a Guppy Friend wash bag  and put the synthetic garments in it for washing. This bag is supposed to capture 99% of fibers released in the washing process. It’s available for purchase from Patagonia.
  8. Invest in a washing machine lint filter like this or this if you can spend more money and have a lot of synthetics in your household.

I hope you found this little guide helpful!

To the next time,
Valentina

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