Best News Ever: Your Impressive Argument for Doing Less Laundry
So there’s pollution in our oceans. Not groundbreaking news- we all know this. What I didn’t know was that 85% of the man-made materials polluting our coastlines were coming straight from our washing machines.
A quick debriefing over a big percentage:
You’ve probably heard about the recent ban of cosmetic microbeads. Since they are too small to be filtered out through our water system, they were being dumped into the ocean and ingested by marine life. Further polluting not only our waterways and coastlines, but also infiltrating our food chain with plastics.
This is sort of the same issue, but possibly more expansive and with smaller particles. About five years ago, ecologist Mark Browne made the harsh realization through his study that a majority of water pollution on our coastlines consisted of microplastics. Microplastics are tiny plastic fibers that are released from- get this- synthetic articles of clothing, i.e.- polyester, acrylic, nylon, etc… And they’re getting into our waterways by means of our washing machines since, like microbeads, microplastics are too small to be filtered.
My first thought after hearing about this was a pretty simple “why the fuck haven’t I heard about this yet?” Since there have been successful fights against similar issues, why hasn’t there been a surge of acknowledgment over this? I’m concerned that, because this issue was recognized so late in the fashion game, apparel companies are overwhelmed with this new development and don’t really want to publicly touch/take on this newer, broader development.
Browne has said that he’s reached out to popular apparel companies, but with little success so far other than with the brand Eileen Fisher pledging their support and efforts.
While there have been thoughts that something as simple as adding a filter to your washing machine may greatly benefit this, one hasn’t yet been created.
Avoid buying synthetic fibers, especially nylons and fleece.
For the ones that you already own, try to wash as infrequently as possible.
- Switch your washer onto a gentler cycle setting whenever you can in order to release less particles by lower agitation of the fabrics.