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Top 4 Fashion Polluters That Shed Microplastics at Alarming Rates

Microplastics have been invisibly entering our waterways every time put synthetic textiles in the washing machine. Now, these nano plastic particles have managed to reach the deepest ends of the Arctic — where a whopping 73% of the microfibres are confirmed to have come from synthetic clothes. 

Key Takeaways: 
Microplastic, Macro-impact 

Microplastics are nano fibres measuring less than 5mm that get released into our water streams while laundering synthetic fabrics. A recent study claims that the Arctic is now “pervasively” polluted by microplastics that have most likely come from the washing of synthetic clothes by people in Europe and North America. 

Researchers found microplastics in 96 of 97 sea water samples taken from across the polar region. Wherein, more than 92% of the microplastics were fibres, and 73% of these were made of polyester. Researchers claimed that the size, shape and type of the fibre is consistent with the fibres lost from clothing and fabrics through laundry and textile production.

Synthetic Sabotagers

Polyester may have been found in the Arctic but it's not the only synthetic fibre that’s notorious for shedding microplastics. Ahead, we’ve listed down a range of fabrics that could be avoided in its entirety or at least washed with caution:

1. Flee the Fleece 

Fleece is a fuzzy winter fabric made entirely of polyester that’s known for holding in the warmth, resisting moisture and drying quickly. However, research by the Plastic Soup Foundation claims that fleece is one of the worst offenders on the microplastic pollutant list as a single polyester fleece jacket is capable of releasing almost 1 million microplastics per wash.

Did you know? 1 polyester fleece jacket is capable of releasing almost 1 million microplastics per wash. Time to flee the Fleece

2. Parasitic Acrylic

Acrylics are often found in fast fashion clothing lines as cheap substitutes for woollens. According to a study by Plymouth University, acrylics can release nearly 730,000 tiny plastic particles per wash. Comparatively, five times more than polyester-cotton blend fabric and nearly 1.5 times as many as polyester.

3. Lesser, Polyester

The energy needed to launder a polyester garment over the course of its life is around four times the energy needed to make it. So not only does polyester consume a ton of energy in its lifetime but also sheds microplastics  — close to 500,000 fibres per wash — that have managed to reach far ends of the North Pole. 

Laundering Polyester takes up more energy than actually producing it. What’s more? It also sheds close to 500,000 microplastics per wash

4. Polyester-Cotton blends

Pure synthetics aren’t the only culprits, research shows that even synthetic and natural fabric blends can release around 137,951 microplastics per load of laundry. Which simply reaffirms just how important it is to check fabric labels when making a new purchase or choosing to carefully launder your current ones.

In reality, a good amount of our wardrobes consist of polyester, which is why we suggest opting for microplastic-trapping wash bags that can significantly reduce the amount of plastic fibre shed. But, if these fabrics aren’t a huge part of your wardrobe already, the sustainable solution would be to opt for plant-based clothing in the future. While plant-based clothes also shed microfibres, they are biodegradable and don’t linger in the environment like non-biodegradable synthetics.

If you are worried about microplastics shed just as much as we are, then peruse through our lineup of sustainable clothes for women and sustainable clothes for men made from plant-based fibres that don’t pollute our oceans.

For more eco-conscious tips on how to wash your clothes, take a look at our Laundry Hacks That Can Save Your Clothes & The Planet.

Published by: Jharna pariani/ 2021-02-17

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