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Why Washing Your Clothes is Hurting The Ocean

 By Zach Kratzsch | July 19, 2019 | Why Washing Your Clothes is Hurting The Ocean

Do you know just doing laundry could be sending plastic polution out to sea?

did you know that synthetic clothing actually is doing the more  harm to the oceans than any other form of plastics? that is because these small fibers are releasing hundreds of thousands of micro plastics  into the water streams with every load.

It is up to us

 Now an estimated 60% of the worlds clothing contains polyester alone. Sometimes what is taken early as a breakthrough can turn out to be a disaster. The cheap production of synthetic fibers such as acrylic, polyester, and nylon has allowed these toxic fibers to outnumber all other forms of clothing.


This means every time someone does a load of laundry we are potentially unleashing  hundreds of thousands of harmful fibers into the water systems and eventually they end up in the oceans affecting all life forms above land and below the sea.

estimated fiber loss of synthetic clothing during a washing machine cycle

a 2016 study by Imogen E. Napper and his colleague performed an experiment to test just how many fibers could be released from as single wash. After fitting a Whirlpool  front loading washer with a special filter on the outflow to collect tiny fibers they washed three separate fabrics, a cotton polyester t shirt, a polyester hoodie and an acrylic sweatshirt. the acrylic shed the most followed by the poly and then the cotton blend as shown in the graph above. On average though the worst polluter is polyester as shown below. 

graph of fiber loss over mulltiple washes over time


Even if the amount of plastic shed per load was reduced, it quickly adds up when we count how many people are washing laundry everyday. A paper  in Environmental science and technology estimated a population of just 100,000 would poroduce 1.02 kilograms of fibers each day, thats 793 pounds of teeny tiny plastic strands per year.  harmful fiber particles are being blown into the air every time we pick up our favorite synthetic blanket or fold our clothes that we breathe in, one way or another these  plastic clothing fibers are leaching into the water supply contaminating the water we drink or the food that we eat and then into us.  a recent study found that 73 percent of  of fish caught at mid ocean depths in the northwest Atlantic had microplastic in their stomachs. Animals in the deepest part of the ocean, the Marianas trench, have already been found eating microplastic pollution.

These particles can be found everywhere from our fields to our bays, Microfibers are the second most common type of debris in Lake Michigan which is where the jar full above was harvested. Micro plastics are being concentrated in bodies of water across the globe. This photo below from an article in the Guardian shows synthetic fibers taken from the gulf of Maine. 

Fibers in gulf of maine

Now that they're in the water these particles are already collecting within our human bodies as well. The average person ingests over 5,800 particles of synthetic debris annually, with the largest contribution coming from tap water (88%). The biggest problem of these particles is they even absorb other harmful chemicals and when ingested these chemicals will accumulate within our bodies and overtime slowly poisoning all life. The worst part is that some plastic items can take as long as a thousand years to decompose and they are slowly leaching harmful chemicals as they do.


We’re not telling you to not wash your clothes and were not telling you to just go naked, what we can do as consumers is support the futures we want to see The only way to save the oceans and ourselves is to switch to more sustainable options immediately, and the more that do the quicker the eco friendly options will become affordable and more vastly adopted.


So what can you do to fix it?


A brighter future depends on the adoption of more sustainable options and practices such as being careful of what kinds of substances we dump down the drain and our washing machines because eventually they will end up back into us.  we also need to cut down on how many clothes we buy per year because An estimated 2,700 liters goes into making one cotton shirt, according to a blog on thats enough water for a person to drink for over 2  years . Even switching to organic and biodegradable fibers such those made from Hemp and organic cottons that consume less water we need to do more. We also need to put an end to "Fast fashion" by making sure our clothes are the highest quality possible so that they last longer and we don't need to buy as many of them and wear them more than once. We also need to put an end to synthetic fibers and start reusing previously owned clothing thats made with natural fibers if we are to truly begin creating a brighter future. 

Average amount of water ot make a  unorganic cotton shirt

To bring more solutions to the world i am proud to announce my brand Stupid Apparel is now converting all of our designs over to the highest quality Hemp and organic cotton blends we could find. All of our inks biodegradable  and every design gives 10% of proceeds to a charity relating to its graphic. It took me some time getting things started because i wanted to be sure our brand is creating more of a positive impact than a negative one. It is up to us as consumers to choose what kind of future we want to support with the products we buy.  

Other ways you can lessen the impact of your laundry is by switching over to natural soaps both in the laundry and for your sinks and showers. It is important we are conscious of what we put down the drains because not as much is filtered out of waste water facilities as you might think. 


Thank you for reading this article it shows you really care about the Earth and the people of the future if you made it this far. Don't forget to  Check out my Stupid Apparel section for our new line of Hemp and organic cotton based apparel and sign upi for our newsletter to stay tuned  for our organic cotton and hemp products Now Available!




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