We've all seen the troubling headlines. "Microplastics are raining down from the sky", "There's no getting away from microplastic contamination", or "Microplastics found in human blood for first time". But equally worrying as the apparent abundance of these particles all over the planet are the seemingly myriad ways that each and every one of us contributes to their dissemination every day. From the plastic water bottle you throw in the bin, to the shampoo you used in the shower this morning, something else you can add to the list is a source of microplastic that many of us carry around with us all day long.
As research by the University of Plymouth revealed, if you have synthetic fabrics in your wardrobe, you are contributing to the problem every time you throw the clothes in the washing machine. Of the three fabric types tested, acrylic was found to be the worst offender. When washing a load at 30˚C or 40˚C, there are on average an estimated 730 thousand fibers released into the waste water system. Polyester is the next most prolific culprit, adding almost 500 thousand every wash. A polyester-cotton blend is less serious in terms of microplastic impact, but a switch to a 100% cotton garment (other natural fibers are also available) is of course the best way to reduce your wardrobe's 'microplastic footprint'.