The Effect of Microfibres on the Ocean
Microfibres have gained more and more attention in recent years, but few people know how to limit their individual output of microfibers into the environment.
Found mostly in synthetic clothing materials such as polyester and nylon, microfibres are released every time that garment is washed. What is more concerning is that now, these plastics are starting to show up in fish and other marine creatures which are consumed by humans.
An easy, if albeit unlikely, way to solve the problem of microfibre release is for everyone the world over to switch to organic clothing materials; but this just isn’t realistic in today’s world of polyester clothing and synthetic fur.
So far, there are about 1.4 million trillion of these fibres in the oceans which equates to about 200 million per person on the planet.
Researchers say that although there is awareness in the clothing manufacture industry, little is being done to solve the problem.
One solution which has been put forward is to chemically treat clothing fibres to prevent microfibre release but this could cause more problems than it solves due to the damaging nature of some of these chemicals.
Another solution which has been recommended is for washing machine companies to implement some sort of filter to their machines which could catch the microfibres before they are released into the water supply and later, the oceans. These filters are already available to the public, but they require consumers to install them themselves and they aren’t cheap.
Some easy ways for you to limit the release of microfibres in your wash is to use a colder wash setting, dry spin clothes on low revolutions, or fill up your washing machine before setting it to wash.
The manufacture of garments made from synthetic fibres is on the rise, with over 60% of all garments being made from polyester, nylon or other similar plastic-based materials.
Friends of the Earth have some practical suggestions on how we can reduce microfibres being released into the environment click here for more details.
Steps still need to be taken in the fashion industry to think of appealing alternatives, but with consumer demand for synthetic fibres so high, there is little the industry can do to outright stop the release of microfibres at home.
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By Callum Cliffe