Microplastics seem to be a topic of growing conversation in regards to clothing. So what are microplastics? Why are microplastics in our clothes? And how are microplastics harming the environment? Let’s discuss & see how we, as conscious consumers, can take action!
What are microplastics & why are they in my clothes?
Basically microplastics are what they sound like…tiny pieces of plastic. Clothing made with synthetic fibers such as polyester, nylon, and acrylic have plastic in them. Microplastics are typically released when washing garments made from these synthetic fibers. A lot of our athleisure wear such as leggings are crafted using these synthetic fibers.
How do microplastics effect the environment?
When we wash clothing made with synthetic fibers the fibers start to wear down and release microplastic into the water. Due to the tiny size of these plastic pieces they are not filtered out, but instead head into the sea and waterways. These can contaminate sea life…..so yes, in the long run we could be eating our own clothes….weird.
What can I do?
As a conscious consumer I don’t want you to throw out all those clothes made with synthetic fibers because we must value what we have….and if you throw them out that would contribute to the waste problem. So what can you do? A lot of it has to do with how you wash your clothes.
Wash less often: Try wearing your clothes a few times before you actually throw it in the wash. As long as you’re not sweating you can definitely rewear your garments a few times before washing. This also helps preserve the overall quality of your clothing and makes it last longer.
Hand wash: By hand washing our clothes, we’re taking a more gentle approach than the traditional laundry machine. Due to the gentle nature of hand washing, this typically helps keep the fibers in tact for longer, releasing less microplastic. And because of the gentle nature of hand washing this can help your garments last longer.
What about recycled polyester?
Recycled polyester is a bit of a debate. My shirts for Give a Damn Goods use a tri-blend that includes recycled polyester. I personally think it is a good fiber because it’s better that we’re crafting polyester with recycled materials (like water bottles) rather using energy and resources to create this synthetic fiber from scratch. Recycled polyester prevents unwanted materials from ending up in landfills and reduces the amount of energy and petroleum needed to make virgin polyester. While they do still release microplastics during washing, I think the energy saving and diverting materials from landfill is a positive. And if you hand wash and value your garments made with recycled polyester then you can further reduce the environmental impact.