Up to 64% of our clothes are made from synthetic and non-biodegradable materials such as polyester, nylon and acrylic. Whilst this is great for the sports industry or for fast fashion where costs are kept low, the reality is that these materials release tiny plastic particles called microfibres that cause havoc on our ecosystems.
What are Microfibres?
A microfibre is a small, plastic thread, thinner than human hair and under 5mm in length. The majority of these fibres come from polyester and can be released into the air and into our water supplies.
When we put our clothes or any other household textiles made of synthetic materials into the washing machine, the friction created in the wash causes the material to release microfibres into the water. One University of California study states that a city the size of Berlin releases the equivalent of 500,000 plastic bags in microfibres during washing every single day.
Once the microfibres are in the water they absorb nasty chemicals and can be eaten by sea creatures. These toxic chemicals can then make their way up the food chain and have been found in our everyday produce such as mussels, honey and tap water.
How Can We Stop Microplastic Pollution?
The easiest way to prevent microplastic pollution is to choose natural fibres like cotton. Sometimes this isn’t possible as fabrics like polyester have qualities that make them better suited for when we’re exercising or need protection from extreme weather.
For when we do need to use synthetic fibres, there are some easy everyday actions that we can take in order to reduce microplastic pollution.
- Filling the washing machine – A full washing machine means that the items have less room to move around, reducing friction between the items and therefore reducing the number of microfibres released.
- Reduce tumble drying – Similar to washing, tumble drying clothes can cause friction and more microfibres to be released. Air drying clothes will reduce the number of fibres released.
- Use a microfibre filter – These devices go inside or connect to your washing machine to catch microplastics during the wash, reducing the number that get washed down the drain.
Microfibre Filters for Your Washing Machine
A microfibre filter is something that everyone should consider if they’re conscious about their impact on the environment.
These filters come in different forms and can be either attached to most washing machines or simply placed inside the machine with the washing.
They work by simply catching the microfibres before they leave the washing machine to be released into our oceans and drinking water supply. The below products are examples of the best microfibre filters on the market.
GUPPYFRIEND Washing bag
The GUPPYFRIEND washing bag is a patented product that you simply put your washing inside before putting in the wash. The bag is self-cleaning and made of a micro-filter fabric that both prevents microfibre breakage and filters out microplastics before they are released into the water. After use, you can dispose of the microfibres with your normal waste disposal.
- The GUPPYFRIEND bag itself does not release any microfibres into the water.
- Stops microfibre breakage at the source.
- Reduces 86% of microfibre breakage in synthetic material.
- Created by a not-for-profit organisation.
Filtrol Lint Filter
The Filtrol is a patented reusable microfibre and lint filter that you can attach externally to your washing machine. The filter can also prevent other materials such as pet hair, sand or metal shavings from reaching the water supply that can cause blockages in your septic tank or public water supply.
- Prevents premature drainage failure.
- Large canister that can be used several times before needing to be emptied.
- Compatible with most washing machines.
- Captures several types of non-biodegradable materials.
The Microfibre Filter
This filter is made from durable polypropylene and is capable of capturing microfibres as small as 72 microns. The majority of other filters available feature a 160-180 mesh, whereas this filter has a market-leading 200 steel mesh filter capable of capturing 90-100% of microfibres.
It is one of the most cost-effective and purse-friendly microfibre filters on the market.
- Market-leading 200 mesh count.
- Affordable option suitable for most budgets.
- Compatible with most washing machines.
Unlike other popular laundry balls that capture larger, bio-degradable fibres, Cora Ball is a laundry ball that you can simply place in the washing machine with your clothes to prevent microfibres from entering your drainage system. Cora Ball’s unique structure collects the microplastics into a pile that you can easily remove from the wash and dispose of with your usual household waste.
- 5-year product lifetime.
- Doesn’t require emptying or cleaning.
- Prevents microfibres shedding and collects ones that do.