Are your clothes worse than microbeads?

Are your clothes worse than microbeads?

With Fashion Revolution week just around the corner, 24th - 30th April 2017, it's time to talk clothes! The movement calls for greater transparency in the fashion industry, and that includes sustainability of clothing companies and their materials and manufacturing.

Unfortunately, there's an alarming secret most fashion brands won't mention on their labels; the danger of synthetic materials. 

Clothes and microbeads?

You've probably heard about the concerns of microbeads and their effects on the environment. There are an estimated 5 trillion plastic pieces just on the ocean surface and the equivalent of one garbage bag filled with plastic entering our oceans every single minute! The #BanTheBead movement has been successful in seeing many countries banning plastic microbeads from cosmetics and individuals looking to more natural scrub alternatives. (Like our Microbead-free scrub).

So you can imagine my shock when I discovered that the majority of my beloved clothes were secretly releasing thousands of micro-plastic fibres into the oceans. 

So almost all of my clothes are polluting the ocean? 

It turns out that around 75% of clothing available today is made from synthetic fabrics. These man-made fabrics are made from plastics and shed tiny fibres, as small as 1 macro-millimetre in thickness. Just like microbeads, these are currently too small to be filtered out of our waterways. When you place your clothes in the washing machine lose fibres are released into the water, carrying this fuzzy plastic dust out into our oceans. 

Source:  Guppy Friend

Source: Guppy Friend

"Over 60% of the plastic debris found in the marine environment are from microfibers from our clothing. In fact, 85% of the human-made materials found on the shoreline were microfibers that matched a variety of clothing material, such as nylon and acrylic."

What's more, it is estimated that one third of the food we eat is contaminated with micro plastic particles. Source: What comes out in the wash


What can you do?

There is one simple solution - don't wash your clothes. 

Just kidding... the better way to tackle this problem is to become more conscious of new clothes you bring into your wardrobe. That means minimising your purchases of synthetic clothing (or any unnecessary clothing for that matter). So next time you're out on a fashion hunt look out for these fabrics:

Fabrics to avoid:

  • Polyester
  • Polyamide
  • Elastane
  • Viscose
  • Lycra / Spandex


Natural fibres:

  • Cotton
  • Linen
  • Silk
  • Wool
  • Cashmere
  • Bamboo
  • Hemp

While there are other environment and ethical concerns with some of these materials, these natural options are far less polluting for our oceans.

There are also a couple of filter products on the market for your existing clothes, to prevent fibres from escaping your washing machine and into the ocean. For example Guppy Friend is a German company who crowdfunded their washing machine filter bag last year. (Note: Unfortunately I couldn't find their bags available to purchase since the campaign was funded, so you may need to contact them directly.) 

So, now you know - Less pollution more revolution

Happy Fashion Revolution week! 

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