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Every time you wash clothes in the washing machine, under the influence of hot water, turbulence and friction of the clothes, the separation of the textile threads creates up to 12 million microfibers. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Globally, more than a third (35%) of microplastics in the oceans come from a somewhat surprising place – our washing machines. Synthetic textiles are therefore considered the largest known source of microplastic components that pollute the world’s oceans, writes the Klima101 website.

Technological and technical solutions have been implemented in special sewage treatment plants that can capture up to 98% of microplastics from our dirty laundry, but conventional factories that are used in most cases do not have the necessary equipment. Therefore, non-negligible amounts of microplastic pollution continue their way to the land and even to the ocean. Therefore, every year between 200 and 500 thousand tons of microplastics from the tissues end up in the sensitive environment of the ocean, whose harmful impact on the living world has not yet been sufficiently investigated.

That’s why we bring you six simple ways to reduce the amount of microfibers coming from your washing machine, and therefore the negative impact on the oceans.

Buy clothes and home textiles made from natural, untreated materials

Cotton, wool, silk and cellulose fiber materials such as bamboo decompose much faster in nature compared to synthetics. However, the biodegradation process of microfibers made from these materials is reduced in the case of the presence of artificial colors and chemicals on them – in addition, these substances can have a harmful effect on the living things in water.

So, if you can, one of the best consumer decisions you can make for the oceans is to buy clothing and home textiles made from natural, untreated materials.

Also pay attention to the texture of the fabric: a densely woven material that is smooth and flat to the touch produces less microfibers during washing than a fluffy one. The worst option is clothes made of synthetic blanket material, which is usually used to sew sweatshirts (wool), and you should manually remove stains from the dirty area on them, and less often wash them in the washing machine.

It is estimated that 62 percent of the textiles produced each year are synthetic. The market is dominated by the famous polyester. It is actually a certain type of plastic, which is produced mainly from oil, mostly in Chinese factories that burn large amounts of coal. A recent study has shown that plastic, due to the fossil fuels used during production and to obtain energy, is a much bigger culprit in climate change than previously thought – so avoiding synthetic materials is a ‘ a benefit for the planet in a much wider context than the reduction of microplastics. from the washing machine. .

Visit second hand shops

Shopping in thrift stores is a very useful tool in the preservation of our planet and in recent years has seen incredible growth – and did you know that by choosing textiles from thrift stores, you can also contribute to reducing the pollution of -oceans with microplastics?

Many studies suggest that microfiber shedding is particularly high during the first few washes. Textiles that have already been used by someone have probably already survived this most critical phase for the oceans. And besides, in used stores you will find pieces of the natural materials (if you’re lucky, even untreated) mentioned before for a little money, which is an additional plus.

In the era of fast fashion, the majority of the population has fallen into a vicious cycle of buy-throw-buy-throw. If we avoided gun-related items and wore our clothes for many years – and refreshed our wardrobes at thrift stores, flea markets or through exchanges with friends – there would be less microplastics in the oceans, as also less waste in the oceans. general.

Take care of the washing method

The conclusion that fewer microfibers are released during shorter cycles in the washing machine is somewhat intuitive – but it has also been scientifically confirmed. Since heat weakens the fabric and increases the risk of thread breakage, washing textiles in cold water also helps. Research by scientists from the United Kingdom has shown that up to 30% less microplastics are produced during a thirty minute cycle at 15 °C compared to an 85 minute wash at 40 °C.

Setting the washing machine to a lower number of revolutions can also be an effective solution because the textile wear is less.

Using fabric softeners results in less fabric shedding, as does using liquid detergents as opposed to powders that damage materials.

Load the washing machine

The less textiles you put in the washing machine, the greater the amount of water in relation to the material, which leads to a greater flow of detergent from the wall, and therefore damage. Of course, this does not mean that you should put 10 kg of textiles in a washing machine with a capacity of 6 kg, because in this way you create a risk of being damaged, but also that you clean the clothes in a way significant. less good.

In these lines, it is also recommended to avoid programs for washing delicate items such as laundry and sweaters – precisely because of the greater amount of water that is consumed, up to 800 thousand microfibers are released more than during cycles standard.

Wash textiles less often

This is probably the simplest advice that does not require much additional explanation, and also brings other benefits – saving resources, reducing carbon dioxide emissions, and extending the life of fabrics. Because of all this… Do not wash your clothes after only one wear without immediate need, especially if they are made of stronger and more durable materials.

Install filters

Microfiber filters help a lot – a Canadian scientific team found that by installing a filter, which has a thin steel mesh to catch the threads, in a washing machine, the amount of microfibers released during a cycle one wash is reduced by up to 87 percent.

The first country to decide on a mandatory microfiber filter in all washing machines was France – the rule comes into force from January 2025

A slightly more favorable option is a bag in which synthetics can be washed. In its corner, the microplastic accumulates, which the user then throws in a more responsible place of the ocean, where the fish feed on it. The microfiber collection ball works on a similar principle.

Portal E2 (Climate 101)

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