Just by doing the laundry we are all contributing to plastic pollution. The first results of the Life+ Mermaids research have proved that washing is a major source of plastic soup. The Plastic Soup Foundation has made a videoclip for Mermaids about this problem to make the world aware of the release of microfibers by doing your laundry.
Every wash, millions of tiny synthetic fibers are released into the water. Large numbers of these then slip undetected through the water treatment plants, only to land via the food chain back onto our own plates. Besides cosmetic products like shampoo, toothpaste and scrubs, it is now clear that clothing is a source of microplastics; acrylic, nylon and polyester are especially major culprits. With acrylic, more than 3,000 fibers per gram can be released in one wash. And one fleece jacket of 680 grams loses almost a million fibers at a time.
These plastic particles are broken down even further by the salty seawater that fish mistake for plankton. So, via the food chain, synthetic fibers end up back on our own plates. Nowadays, there is 1 microplastic particle found in every gram of mussel meat, often from clothing.
Besides research on the amount of fibers released, the program ‘Mermaids, Ocean Clean Wash’ is also looking for solutions. Can the manufacture of clothing be modified so that in future fibers are not released? Other variables include: type and brand of detergent, the role of fabric softeners, washing temperature, and type of thread; woven or knitwear.
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