Microplastics In Textiles And What You Can Do About It


Last week’s blogpost was about macroplastics and my takeaway from The PEW Charitable Trusts and SystemiQ’s recent report “Breaking the Plastic Wave: A Comprehensive Assessment of Pathways Towards Stopping Ocean Plastic Pollution”. This one is about microplastics.

Microplastic is everywhere and it’s one of the biggest environmental problems that most people haven’t even heard of. The tiny plastic pieces are found in the arctic ice and the remotest parts of the deep sea. They are in our everyday foods and in our bodies. The harm microplastics are doing to our health are not yet fully scientifically studied, but the indications are overwhelming.

What is Microplastic?

The PEW Charitable Trusts and SystemiQ defined microplastics as pieces of plastic between 1 micrometre (μm) and 5 mm in size that enter the environment as microsized particles—widely called primary microplastic.

“Out of the ~20 potential sources of primary microplastic, the four sources we modelled represent an estimated 75-85 per cent of total microplastic leakage. Among these four, the largest contributor, by mass, to 2016 microplastic leakage into the ocean was tire dust, contributing 78 per cent of the leakage mass modelled; pellets contribute 18 per cent; and textiles and personal care products contribute 4 per cent combined. There is a different pattern in terms of the number of microplastic particles entering the ocean, with tires and textiles being the main sources of leakage.”

“These four sources of microplastics now contribute about 1.3 million metric tons of microplastic leakage into the ocean annually, estimated to growing to 3 million metric tons in 2040.”

The report concludes that “solutions should focus on reducing microplastics at their source because it’s more cost-efficient and feasible than collection of microplastic particles already in the environment.”

Meanwhile until those solutions are actually implemented, what can you do to help reduce microplastic leakage into the environment?

From the four main microplastic sources, for the consumer the easiest to start with are textiles. Countless microplastics from synthetic textiles are making their way from washing machines into rivers and oceans with each wash.

Meet The Guppyfriend Washing Bag

In my own research I came across The Guppyfriend Washing Bag, which is a scientifically approved filter solution to stop microplastic pollution caused by washing synthetic textiles. It’s entirely made of untreated polyamide and can be recycled with other groups of identical materials (PA 6.6). The bag also has the OEKO-TEX STANDARD 100 certification label, which means you can be certain that every component of the article has been tested for harmful substances and therefore is harmless for human health.

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