Calling On Companies to Clean Up The Wash

You've heard the warnings: By 2025, we are on course to accumulate one ton of plastic for every three tons of fish in the ocean, and by 2050, the weight of plastic will have overtaken that of fish. But did you know that among the causes of this possible future scenario is our dirty laundry?

Every time we wash our clothes in a washing machine, synthetic clothes shed small plastic fibers that end up in the water and pollute rivers and oceans because they are too small to be filtered out by waste treatment plants. A polyester jacket sheds almost 1 million microfibers per wash, according to Ocean Clean Wash (view their video below). 

The Dutch fashion clothing maker G-Star and the Plastic Soup Foundation are now joining forces to stop this process in its tracks with a battle against the microfiber.

“Leading European research recently showed that a fleece releases an incredible 1 million microfibers every time it is washed,” according to Maria Westerbos, director of the Plastic Soup Foundation, in a statement released April 25. “If you imagine that every day a couple of billion people around the world wash their clothing and that almost every item of clothing contains plastic nowadays, you can easily see why it is imperative to deal with this cause of the plastic soup immediately.” Westerbos further stated, “G-Star is the first fashion brand that recognizes and supports the need for innovation.”

The Plastic Soup Foundation and G-Star are calling on other fashion companies, washing
machine manufacturers and the textile industry to support the international Ocean Clean Wash. The signatories of this initiative will contribute to the development of one or more innovative solutions to prevent the release of plastic fibers from garments in the future, such as fabrics that do not release microfibers, or washing machine filters that capture the released fibers. Technological center LEITAT collaborates in the initiative to research the technical feasibility of the solutions proposed.

Capt. Charles Moore of Algalita Marine Research and Education said in an email in response to the news, "A huge challenge to change clothing and bedding worldwide, but exactly the kind of radical change that will be necessary on a global scale."


Photo: C. Jason Childs, Jimbaran Bay