Plastic debris from synthetic clothes disposed of in washing machine wastewater contributes to ocean pollution.
Believe it or not, home washing machines contribute to ocean pollution, according to a recent study in Environmental Science & Technology.
Every time we wash a garment made from synthetic materials, tiny plastic pieces of debris come off of the clothes and are disposed of in the washing machine’s wastewater. This plastic debris, referred to by the researchers as “microplastic,” eventually ends up in the ocean and shorelines, where it collects.
While it may not be obvious to our eyes, the researchers determined that a single piece of clothing can generate more than 1,900 fibres! The worst culprits are polyester and acrylic.
The plastic carries additives, chemicals, and pollutants that can harm the environment and ocean organisms. Animals can ingest the plastic pollution, which then makes its way up the food chain and can eventually be consumed by humans.
While clothing designers ought to take this problem into consideration, individuals can also become part of the solution. Of course, washing our clothes is still necessary, but we can help prevent plastic debris by choosing clothing made from natural fibres without any plastic, including cotton (organic is best), hemp, and bamboo. Sticking to natural laundry detergents also helps to reduce the amount of chemicals that end up in the ocean.