Microplastics in the laundry
Our planet is now invaded by microplastics, tiny plastic particles that are found in the soil, waterways, seas and oceans and deposited in rocks. The consequences ecosystems and our health are not yet fully understood but it is easy to understand how plastic can harm the environment, animals and us human beings. Most of these particles end up in the environment due to tire erosion and plastic waste as well washing machines contribute to introduce microplastics into the environment, which derive mainly from the fabrics of our clothes. Experts estimate that each of us injects about 66 grams of microplastics per year through the use of the washing machine alone, the equivalent of thirteen credit cards. Through some tricks however, we can reduce, if not eliminate, the amount of plastic in the laundry.
We see some advice useful for reducing plastic in the laundry to be good for us and the environment and also save money.
Natural fibers are better
To eliminate or at least reduce the plastic particles that end up in the drain during washing in the washing machine, a first and fundamental advice is to choose plastic-free clothes. In fact, the microplastics in the laundry derive mostly from the synthetic fibers used to produce clothes, such as elastane, nylon, polyester. To reduce the plastic in the laundry it is better to act upstream, bought clothes and linen in cotton, linen, hemp and others natural fibers. In addition to polluting less during washing, the production of these fabrics can be more sustainable and for sure wearing them guarantees greater breathability and comfort.
How to reduce microplates in laundry when using synthetic fiber clothing, such as sportswear? In this case you can use laundry bags in which to put tops, bras, leggings and other clothing used for training. These are normal fabric bags that do not release microplastics during washing and that are able to retain, at least partially, the microplastics that are released from synthetic fabrics. The particles retained are the larger ones, while the smaller ones still manage to pass, but the amount of plastic fragments that end up in the drain is still less when using a laundry bag or bag.
Make fewer washing machines
Another tip for reducing the amount of plastic when washing clothes is to do the washing machine less often. Many people use the washing machine very frequently, two or more times a week, but a suit does not need to be washed after just one use. Obviously the exceptions are work clothes, underwear, children’s clothes and those used in physical activity, which need to be washed for obvious reasons. In many cases, however, the clothes are not so dirty and it is sufficient to let them air, so that you can wear them at least on another occasion. Making fewer washing machines reduces the plastic but also the consumption of water and energya, with also economic savings. In addition, fewer washes also make clothes last longer.
The right washing program
Not all washing programs are the same and some involve a greater release of plastic into the environment. It sounds strange, but one of the washing machine programs that releases the most microplastics is the delicate one. The programs that release less of it are those with shorter cycles and low temperatures that also save water and electricity.
Pay attention to the detergent
Washing machine detergent can also contribute tomicroplastic pollution. Most of the detergents on the market are accused of containing synthetic polymers, as well as optical brighteners and fragrances that end up in the environment during washing and are hardly biodegradable. For laundry without microplastics, it is therefore better to choose an ecological detergent, possibly certified: the price is a little higher, but the environmental cost is much lower.
Discard the softener
The fabric softener serves to make clothes and linen softer and more fragrant, but contributes to greater erosion of the fabrics in the washing phase. As a result, more fibers are fed into the washing machine and clothes spoil faster. In addition to microplastics, the use of softener also releases various synthetic substances into the environment. The use of fabric softener has decreased in recent years: although ecological alternatives exist, many people have begun to decrease their use especially for skin irritations, then realizing that fabric softener is not so essential for laundry. Some people replace fabric softener with solutions based on water and citric acid or water and vinegar, but even if you don’t use alternatives to fabric softener, your laundry is soft, clean and fragrant and it’s just a matter of habit.