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The Toxic Relationship Between Microplastics and Laundry

Sustainability doesn’t just begin with how a garment is made or end with where it ends up after being discarded. Easily overlooked aspects like how you wash, dry and care for your clothes — sustainably made or not — can also have a huge impact on the environment.  How so?

Key Takeaways: Airing out Our Dirty Laundry 

For some of our frequently used clothes, laundering is likely to be a major source of resource use and pollution across the garment’s life cycle.

The energy needed to launder a polyester garment over the course of its life is around four times the energy needed to make it. 

According to a Cambridge University report, about 60% of the energy used in the life cycle of a cotton T-shirt is related to post-purchase washing and drying at high temperatures. 

Additionally, washing machines account for 17% of our home water usage, while cleaning a garment alone accounts for a quarter of its carbon footprint over the course of its life. In fact, the Electrolux group finds that 90% of our washed clothes aren’t even dirty enough to be tossed for laundering, to begin with. But, energy and water consumption aren’t the only issues at hand.

Microplastic Release, Macro Havoc  

Every time polyester is washed in a machine, it releases tiny plastic fibres measuring less than 5mm into our rivers, oceans and lakes, which consequently harm marine life. Recent findings have discovered microplastics in the deepest ends of the Arctic where 73% of the microfibres are confirmed to have come from synthetic clothes. Other reports estimated that 3,500tn plastic microfibres from washing clothes in the US and Canada ended up in the sea each year. 

In our findings on microplastics, we discovered the top 4 fashion materials that are shedding microplastics at alarming rates. Identifying these fabrics and choosing to launder them in an eco-friendly manner can significantly help the environment. 

Eco-wash Not Hogwash

The realisation that most impacts associated with a garment occur in the laundry suggests that one of the most influential sustainability strategies would be to change how we wash and dry our clothes. We’ve listed a bunch of eco-friendly tips and tricks that will not only extend the shelf life of your clothes but also help the environment from further damage:

Published by: Vibhuti Vazirani/ 2021-03-15

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