Are Your Clothes Contributing to Ocean Pollution?

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Washing line

Scientists have warned that by 2050, the amount of plastic in the ocean will outnumber the amount of fish. How is this horrific ocean pollution even possible? Microfibres.

Microfibres are playing a significant contribution in our earth’s ocean pollution. They are tiny pieces of plastic used in the manufacture of synthetic fabrics, from which we create clothing with. It is estimated that around 60% of all fashion and décor items are made with synthetic fabrics. That’s because the material they are made with (including plastic) have the advantage of being cheap and readily available. There was also a common misconception for many years, that recycling plastic bottles into fabric for clothing, was a positive step towards reducing waste and pollution.

However, while it technically is recycling, it is not removing the waste from the environment. Instead it is moving the waste problem somewhere else. Every time you wash your clothing in a washing machine, tiny microfibres are released. They move through the drainage system, reaching the local water treatment plant. Here they slip past filters, and enter our lakes, rivers and oceans.

Greenpeace says a recent IUCN report suggests that up to 31% of ocean pollution comes from microfibres, of which 35% directly comes from the washing of synthetic clothing. Upon reaching the ocean, these microfibres act like sponges and absorb other pollutants. They are then eaten by fish, which in turn are eaten by people. Are you happy knowing that you’ve been eating a part of someone else’s clothing?

The issue then becomes, how can you help to reduce the ocean pollution caused by microfibres, and that’s what we’ll discuss next.

How to Reduce Microfibre Ocean Pollution

It’s unrealistic to believe that clothing manufacturers will stop using synthetic materials: they are too prominent. But as consumers, we can choose not to purchase them. The same goes for synthetic blankets and towels: you say no thank you, and purchase an environmentally friendly 100% cotton towel instead. Other ways you can help reduce microfibre leakage into our oceans are by:

  • Handwash or spotwash using mild, eco-friendly detergent
  • If machine washing, use a front loader
  • Washing synthetic clothing less often
  • Add a microfibre catching filter to your washing machine such as a Lint LUV-R or use a Guppyfriend or Cora Ball in your machine to capture microfibres
  • Purchase clothing made from natural fibres like linen, cotton and wool
  • Wash clothing in cold water
  • Use a liquid washing soap, not a powder
  • Wash full loads only, as this reduces friction, reducing microfibre release
  • Dry clothing outside on the clothes line

You hold the power to reduce ocean pollution. Make the choice to purchase only 100% natural fibre products, and a great place to start is with our 100% Turkish cotton towels. With five percent of all profits heading right back towards the preservation of New Zealand beaches, oceans and marine life, you can be sure in the knowledge that you are making a difference to reduce ocean pollution.

Microfibres Ocean Pollution Plastic Pollution

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