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Synthetic textiles & tyres are the greatest source of ocean microplastic

Synthetic textiles & tyres are the greatest source of ocean microplastic

Microplastics. Off our plastic clothes and into the mouths of our children, our washing and our oceans

As plastic free July draws to a close, if you have vowed to reduce your attachment to plastic, here are 3 plastics to give up - for your own health and the health of our oceans. Plastic water, plastic clothes and car tyres

Many people aren't aware that synthetic fibres are plastic and they shed microfibres into the air (then into you) and into the water when you wash clothes. Water washes down the drain and into waterways, eventually ending at the sea. When you look at any synthetic fibre close up, it's easy to see just how hairy it is, especially the faux fur varieties of clothes, mats and toys. 

Then there are tyres. The sheer volume of truck and car tyres on earth, literally flinging plastic out into the air as it hits the road might surprise you, but when you think about it, makes sense. (Where did you think those millimetres of rubber were going? If you are like me, you probably never thought about it.)

It turns out that car tyres and synthetic textiles account for nearly 65% of all microplastics in the ocean. So while we need to be careful with micro beads in personal care products, it's way more important to stop buying synthetic textiles - for yourself, your pet, your children or your home. 

Statista, who pretty much make charts of anything that moves, recently published this chart of findings from a Plymoth University study, which sums up the situation nicely.

THE RESEARCH FOUND THAT LAUNDERING AN AVERAGE WASHING LOAD OF 6KG COULD RELEASE AN ESTIMATED 137,951 FIBRES FROM POLYESTER-COTTON BLEND FABRIC, 496,030 FIBRES FROM POLYESTER AND 728,789 FROM ACRYLIC.

THE POLYESTER-COTTON BLEND WAS CONSISTENTLY FOUND TO SHED FEWER FIBRES THAN BOTH THE OTHER FABRIC TYPES, REGARDLESS OF THE DIFFERING TREATMENTS, HOWEVER, THE ADDITION OF BIO-DETERGENTS OR CONDITIONERS TENDED TO RELEASE MORE FIBRES.

While the answer to reducing what you add to ocean plastics is to avoid anything that produces it, what about the stuff you already own or when you do have to use your car?

For the clothes, linen and toys you might own that are synthetic or synthetic blends,  always wash with a really full load and on a slower spin. (If you plan on giving out Free Hugs and need a matching Onesie, get a natural fibre version.)

The car - you know what you have to do! 

‚ÄčImage: Unsplash | Todd Trapani | Annie Gray | Tamara Bellis | Toa Heftiba
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