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Why Microplastics from Synthetic Fabrics Are Harmful and How to Minimize Them With Microplastic Filter Bags

Jul 13, 2021

Why Microplastics from Synthetic Fabrics Are Harmful and How to Minimize Them With Microplastic Filter Bags
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Did you know that every time we wash our clothes, tiny plastic fibers are released into the water? These microplastics are harmful to the environment and it’s important for us to do something about them. We’ll explain what microfibers are, why they're dangerous and how to minimize their impact on our world.

What should we know about microplastics?

When considering the amount of microfibers on the planet, it's important to remember that these tiny pieces are created by our daily habits. Everyday we use synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon in clothing production. While they're durable, strong and inexpensive alternatives for natural fibers, they also shed their microscopic plastic fragments in the washing machine or are worn down over time.

This can lead to the accumulation of microplastics that end up in our water systems. And if you're not careful about rinsing your clothes before washing, these particles can get into our oceans and waterways too! Microfibers can have an impact on fish, birds and other animals in the environment.

Why does plastic end up in the ocean?

So how do microplastics end up in the ocean? The most common ways are through the mismanagement of plastic waste in our water systems.

washing laundry

In many parts of the world there is a lack of proper infrastructure for effective management of municipal solid waste or recyclables that can lead to littering on streets and waterways, clogging drains and eventually ending up in our oceans. This includes the microfibers that end up in our water systems through the washing of synthetic clothing in washing machines.

Manufacturing can also lead to these particles getting into our water systems and eventually finding their way out into the ocean when they are carelessly discarded without being properly filtered or disposed of. Here are a few ways that microplastics end up in the environment:

-Fibers from production are not adequately removed during processing, leading to tiny particles that can be picked up by the wind and dispersed over a large area.

-Dye from colors are not sufficiently removed during production or washing, leading to particles in water systems.

-Lint from dryer vents is easily transported by air currents.

-Microfibers shed from synthetic fabrics during washing or dryer use have been found to be the greatest pollutant of our oceans and waterways. These fibers pollute aquatic habitats by making their way into the ocean either through wastewater treatment plants when they're flushed and not filtered out or through storm water runoff when they're improperly washed off of clothing.

-Microplastics from synthetic fabrics are harmful to human health due to the way these particles can bypass our body's natural defenses like mucous membranes and enter into cells, which leads to them being mistaken for nutrients or molecules that regulate cell function.

Why are microplastics such a concern to scientists?

Microplastics are a concern to scientists because they cause pollution, which can potentially harm the ecosystem. Plastic microfibers from clothing contribute to ocean plastic pollution and other sources of pollution in water systems. There is evidence that these plastics also release toxins into the environment as well as create problems in the food chain.

scientists find microplastic in water

Scientists are trying to figure out what harm can come from ingesting and sharing water with these tiny plastic particles in them. The average person could ingest anywhere from 40,000 to 70,000 microplastic particles each year simply by eating food that has been contaminated or drinking water polluted by rainwater runoff.

A recent study found that more than more than 50% of all people have microplastics in their stool samples, which suggests that they enter our bodies through eating food and drinking water contaminated with plastic particles.

The effects of these microfibers on human health is not yet clear, but some studies suggest that they may cause long term problems such as obesity or cancer.

How are microplastics harmful to life in the ocean?

When we think of microplastics polluting the ocean, what usually comes to mind are images of sea turtles strangled in six-pack rings, seabirds choked by plastic netting and whales dying from eating too much plastic. But less visual pollution is also having a major impact on the ocean environment: microfibers that come out of clothing during washing.

The tiny fibers make their way into the waterways and can have devastating consequences on the animal life there.

ocean plastic pollution

The impact of microfibers on marine life, including whales and dolphins, have been known to accumulate plastics in their stomachs, which can eventually lead to death.

It's not always obvious when microplastics are present. They can't be seen with the naked eye or picked up by conventional techniques used to measure plastic pollutants like nets from trawlers. These tiny particles can bind to toxic chemicals that are ingested by sea life and the process can repeat.

The consequences of this are not yet fully understood, but one thing is known: microfibers in oceans are now a major environmental concern and they're harmful for humans too. When plastic debris breaks down it becomes more accessible to all types of marine life. Microplastics are actually the most common form of ocean pollution because they can't be seen with the naked eye and many animals mistake them for food, potentially leading to a toxic build-up inside their bodies over time until death occurs.

Researchers at the Ocean University of China found that microfibers from clothes lessened the growth and efficiency of photosynthesis in microalgae. Producers of synthetic fabrics could be depriving plankton from removing carbon dioxide from the environment.

Is microfiber clothing bad for the environment?

Microplastic particles from synthetic fabrics can be found in the water, seabed and air. It's not just polyester that contains microfibers; rayon, nylon and acrylic also emit small plastic fibers when they are washed or worn down over time.

synthetic fabric

With the increasing popularity of activewear and loungewear, it is no surprise that microfiber pollution is an increasing problem for our environment. If we are to make steps towards a cleaner future for all, then it is up to us to do something about this problem now.

As consumers, we can do our part to reduce this harmful effect by choosing clothing made from natural materials like cotton or bamboo that have natural fibers that break down easily.

If you are unable to make the switch, then it is also important that you use a microfiber filter bag like the Guppyfriend Washing Bag in your laundry machine. This will prevent thousands of synthetic fibers from being washed down the drain and into our water systems.

What can we do to reduce microfiber pollution in the ocean?

When developing solutions to the scourge of microfiber pollution, it's important to identify the major sources and how they contribute to this global problem.

If we can reduce our consumerism by refusing disposable products like straws or cutlery then that would be a big help in reducing microfibers. Taking stock of our clothing and refusing the synthetic fabrics that produce microplastics.

Polyester and nylon are two of the most common types of fabric, but polyester is terrible for our environment because it produces more than ten times as many microfibers per wash cycle on average.

What are the solutions for microplastic pollution?

Now that we are aware of the problems that microplastic cause, we need to find solutions for this pollution.

Fortunately, there are some easy and practical things that everyone can do in order to avoid microplastics from synthetic fabrics:

Wash synthetic clothes less frequently on a shorter cycle.

One way to lessen the release of microfibers during laundry is by washing synthetic clothes made from polyester, nylon, acrylic or rayon less frequently. It's also recommended that you wash these items on a shorter cycle with cold water and use an eco-friendly detergent like our Fragrance Free Laundry Soap Powder, which contains a plant based surfactant instead of chemicals for more gentle cleaning power.

Fill up your washing machine

Washing clothes in a full load prevents fewer fibers from being released while running the washing machine cycle. Running your washing machine with a full load will also help save water, energy and detergent. 

Use a colder wash setting

Hot water is no friend to your clothes. Washing clothes in hot water can damage clothes and release more fibers from your garments, leading them to wear out faster. Soap and detergents work best in cold or warm temperatures as well.

Use microplastic filter bags when doing laundry

A microplastic filter bag is an easy way to prevent microfibers from entering the environment by filtering out synthetic fibers before they come into contact with laundry. These bags are made of fine monofilament mesh material that catches the microfibers during the laundry rinse cycle, keeping microplastics from being washed down the drain.

Guppyfriend microfilter laundry bag in washing machine

One of the most popular microplastic washing bags on the market is the Guppyfriend washing bag. This filter bag is made entirely of polyamide 6.6. The material is untreated, and does not contain any dye. The fabric is made of monofilaments which are more like sticks than threads and do not lose any fibers themselves.

Does the Guppyfriend washing bag work?

To use the Guppyfriend washing bag, simply put your synthetic garments in the bag during the wash cycle and it will collect the shedding fibers that you can safely remove and dispose of.

The fabrics that work the best in this filter bag include polyester, acrylic, nylon, etc., mostly found in activewear, swimwear, undergarments or knitwear. Washing with the Guppyfriend significantly reduces fiber breakage and protects your clothes from wear and tear. It is not always easy to avoid the damage of microplastics from synthetic fabrics. Guppyfriend Washing Bags helps you prevent this issue by using filter bags during your laundry routine.

The Guppyfriend bag helps you wash your synthetic clothes without shedding any microfibres into the water supply or onto your floors! It's reusable and it catches up to 90% of excess fibers that would otherwise end up polluting our oceans and landfills. The Guppyfriend washing bags can be reused up to fifty times and are environmentally friendly.

These microplastic filters will help you reduce your environmental footprint and protect the environment. The best way to do this is by using them every time you wash clothes! You can use these bags for all of your laundry, from bedding and towels to delicates like underwear or bras. We hope that we've given you some helpful information about how harmful synthetic fabric fibers are for our oceans, as well as how easy it is to minimize their impact on our planet with a few simple changes in your routine - including washing clothes with an eco-friendly filter bag before sending them down the drain!

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