If you’re one of the lucky few who enjoys their weekly clothes washing routine, we have some sad news for you…
Do you know what micro-fibres are, and do you the know what’s bad about them? I sure didn’t. However, when I read a BBC article titled “Is my washing to blame for the plastic problem?” I was determined to find some answers.
The article stated how man-made fibres, found in most clothing, are contributing to plastic build up in the world’s seas, some items releasing up to 1 million fibres per wash. While we’ve all seen Blue Planet and are fully aware that the sea is a bad place for plastic to be, studies done at our very own University of Exeter have unveiled that these fibres can also seriously and detrimentally alter animal’s behaviour.
Assuming most of us find laundry a boring, laborious task, this provides an excellent excuse to avoid it! However, for the regular washing of unmentionables, those who just can’t live without their weekly laundry session, or those who just use washing as an excellent source of procrastination, here are some hints and tips on how to reduce your environmental impact:
- Temperature: higher temperature results in the release of more fibres, so keep it cool.
- Time: friction between items causes more fibred to come loose. The shorter amount of time in the washing machine, the fewer fibres are released.
- Amount: larger loads of laundry result in less friction-so save your laundry date until you have full load!
- Powder vs Liquid: always use liquid, as powder loosens fibres.
- Fabric: buy fewer synthetic fabrics such as cotton, linen or wool. Check the labels of your clothes and if they contain synthetic fibres, try to wash them less frequently.
- Filters: various products are available that catch fibres before they get the chance to go down the drain. ‘Laundry balls’ attract fibres when you place them in the cycle with your laundry, while filters and mesh bags can catch over 80% of the fibres released.
- Wash by hand: it may seem extreme, but if you’re really into doing laundry to avoid dreaded uni work, hand washing can be a cathartic experience. By providing you with a valuable insight into how much laundry you create, you discover whether you should/could cut down.
- Drying: tumble dryers are renowned for emitting huge amounts of carbon dioxide. Skipping them and replacing them with washing line drying can make a monumental difference to CO2 emissions while saving your clothes from the wear and tear caused by tumble dryers in the long-run.
However, Plastic Soup Foundation specialist, Jeroen Dagevos maintains that on the individual level, washing less frequently is the best way forward! Taking into account the damage that is caused by clothes washing, this also benefits the life-cycle and sustainability of our wardrobe. For example, Fashion Revolution stress how “75-80% of our clothing’s lifecycle impact comes from washing and drying”, while 90% of our clothing is unnecessarily being thrown away partially due to outdated laundry habits. To combat this, Fashion Revolution is working on ‘The Care Label Project’, creating a ‘Don’t Overwash’ care symbol on clothing labels and emphasizing the importance of caring for our clothes in the long-term.
To find out more on how washing the right way can increase your wardrobe’s lifecycle and help save the planet, here are some useful links: