Many of us are so conscious of our plastic consumption that we’ve made the switch to aluminium water bottles and will only drink through a plastic straw.
So much more coverage is being given to plastic pollution, and rightfully so – it’s a huge environmental problem. But while most of us know about single-use water bottles, what about all the other places where plastic lurks?
Take our clothes, many of which are full of microfibres.
As London Fashion Week kicks off, lots of us are thinking about the impact the industry is having on both the environment and our health. Awareness of microfibres will no doubt grow as fashion becomes more conscious – so here’s what you need to know about them.
🤔 What are #microfibres - and why are they are problem?
Please watch this short explainer then take action: https://t.co/5pr8DYrZBd
According to Friends of the Earth, almost a quarter of clothes produced in Europe are made of plastic. This includes fabrics like polyester, nylon, acrylic and polyamide.
This is where microfibres come in. These are the teeny tiny strands of plastic that are shed when clothes made of these materials are being washed. According to Greenpeace, one piece of clothing can release 700,000 fibres in just one wash.
“Washing machines and wastewater treatment plants aren’t designed to trap the minute plastic fibres that our clothes shed,” Friends of the Earth says. “Many of these fibres sneak into our waterways and ultimately the oceans.”
🍽 Could you be eating your own clothes? #microfibres https://t.co/zUo9vZCO9o #LondonFashionWeek #LFW2018 #microfibers pic.twitter.com/756MbllWOg— Friends of the Earth 🌍 (@friends_earth) September 14, 2018
It’s not just marine life that will be harmed by our plastic problem, but it could come back to bite us in the rear end as well.
The food chain means that the microfibres ingested by the smallest of sea creatures can travel up to bigger animals, and have the potential to make their way into the food we eat.
Friends of the Earth puts it this way: “If you don’t like the idea of eating your own clothes, we need to find alternatives to using plastic.”
What can you do to help?
Buy fewer but higher quality clothes, wash clothes at 30degC, only when you need to as microfibres are released in the wash. Use a full load & wash on a shorter, gentler cycle; to reduces friction which causes microfibres to shed and clothes to wear. pic.twitter.com/8bx0nF2PS1— Campaign for Wool (@Campaignforwool) June 5, 2018
It feels like the fashion industry is having a moment of reckoning and designers are thinking more about how their clothes impact the environment. This London Fashion Week is the first to completely ban fur, which is a huge win for animal rights activists.
It makes us think – where next for the industry? The next battle for campaigners like Friends of the Earth seems to be microfibres, and on the first major day of LFW they’ve launched a petition calling for retailers to take plastic out of clothes.
Even though it would be nearly impossible to completely remove plastic from fashion, organisations like Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace want to raise awareness and convince manufacturers to reduce their usage.
- Press Association