Clean clothes and (or) a clean planet

Washing clothes in the washing machine is part of the constant responsibilities of every household. However, do you know how much microplastic we leave in the oceans?

Photo illustration: Unsplash (Dan Gold)

According to estimates, about 50 billion clothes are washed in washing machines worldwide every year. On this occasion, the clothes release about 1,900 fibers during each individual wash.

There are filters intended to reduce the amount of microplastic fibers that are released, however, until now, their efficiency has not been tested in scientific terms.

What has been noticed is that no existing filtration method manages to avoid releasing these microfibers into nature. That is why a solution is being sought to stop their release from the washing machine into the sewer.

The analysis revealed that the existence of filters in the machines still reduces the amount of fibers in the wastewater by up to 74 percent, compared to devices that do not have filters.

As the dominance of plastic waste deposition in the oceans, which has become an unavoidable part of the marine food chain, highlights one of the most pressing issues for environmental protection, solutions are being sought for all sources of pollution in the planet’s marine area.

Read more:

  • Where do the thousands of tons of microplastics in national parks come from?
  • There is much more microplastic in the oceans than we thought
  • Conscientious consumerism will (not) save the (fashion) world

Microplastics stand out as one of the leading dangers for the environment because it becomes an integral part of the diet of many beings and changes the cellular structure of organisms.

It was also discovered that sand worms often eat small pieces of plastic, which prevents the accumulation of mud on the shores. However, welding plastic reduces their need for organic matter and changes the appearance of the local ecosystem. At the same time, their health and survival can also be endangered due to the potential presence of toxic substances.

Annually, about 150 million tons of plastic are lost from waste streams and end up somewhere in nature. Developing more efficient and reliable filtration systems would help prevent at least one source of ocean pollution by microplastics.

Jelena Cvetić