07 Nov How ‘green’ are your clothes?
When buying food in a supermarket, it’s quite common to check the ingredients. But how often do you check the label of clothes before buying them?
Nowadays, many clothes are being made from synthetic fibres (like polyester, polyamide, nylon, acrylic). These fibres are made from plastic. So a polyester sweater, for example, is actually a plastic one. Did you know? And do you know that washing synthetic clothes contributes to the plastic pollution of the oceans?
Why washing synthetic clothes is harmful to sea and ocean life
Synthetics contain microplastics because they are plastic based fabrics. By washing synthetic clothes, these non-degradable fibres eventually end up in the ocean.
According to a study “each cycle of a washing machine could release more than 700.000 microscopic plastic fibres into the environment.”
Also a report shows that tiny plastic particles washed off products such as synthetic clothes, could contribute up to 30% of the ‘plastic soup’ polluting the world’s oceans.
I have seen stores promoting their ‘eco-friendly’ clothes which appeared to be made from recycled plastic. Yes, it is true that recycling plastic is better than producing more plastic. But plastic – whether recycled or not – is harmful to the environment. Plastic clothes can therefore, from my point of view, never be called ‘eco-friendly’.
Textile clothes: a greener choice
Textile clothes don’t contain microplastics; they are made from natural fabrics like cotton, viscose, bamboo, wool, slik, hemp, linen or Tencel. Because of the natural fabrics, textile clothes are a greener choice and healthier for the planet than synthetic ones.
7 things you can do
Regarding clothes and washing them, there are several ways to contribute to a healthy environment. Here are 7 suggestions to inspire you.
1. Buy only clothes when you really need them.
Overconsumption is a problem, also regarding clothes. Buying more than we need, leads to overproduction, more waste, greenhouse emissions, a higher need for resources, etc.
2. Choose for clothes made from natural fabrics, (like cotton, viscose, bamboo, wool, hemp, Tencel, silk or linen) instead of synthetic clothes.
3. Buy second-hand. This way no new clothes have to be produced.
4. Wash at low temperature. This way you save energy. Also – regarding synthetic clothes – the amount of microplastics that are released is lower when washing at low temperature.
5. Wash synthetic clothes in a Guppyfriend washing bag. This is a special washing bag that filters out microplastics, preventing them to end up in rivers and oceans.
6. Use softeners and laundry soap that are biodegradable.
7. Sell or give-away clothes you no longer wear or need, so they can be reused. Or separate them for recycling.