Plastic Free washing machines



CAMPAIGN FOR ZERO MICRO PLASTIC WASTE - The clothing industry and the oil companies that supply them have got a lot to answer for. Politicians have got to explain, as to why they let the retailers and fossil fuel industry get away with a practice that they knew to be harmful to marine life, and rebound to cause humans serious illness. The invention of artificial fibres for cheaper clothing, and the washing machine was and is a wonderful thing. Freeing us up to enjoy life more affordably and reducing time spent cleaning apparel; as with all labour saving devices.


WHAT ARE MICRO PLASTICS - Microplastics are tiny plastic pieces that are less than <5 mm in length. Textiles are the largest source of primary microplastics (specifically manufactured to be smaller than 5mm), accounting for 34.8% of global microplastic pollution [a]. Microfibres are a type of microplastic released when we wash synthetic clothing – clothing made from plastic such as polyester and acrylic. These fibres detach from our clothes during washing and go into the wastewater. The wastewater then goes to sewage treatment facilities. As the fibres are so small, many pass through filtration processes and make their way into our rivers and seas.

Around 50% of our clothing is made from plastic [b] and up to 700,000 fibres can come off our synthetic clothes in a typical wash [c]. As a result, if the fashion industry continues as it is, between the years 2015 and 2050, 22 million tonnes of microfibres will enter our oceans [d].



Almost all macro and microfibers find their way from domestic and industrial machines into rivers, obviously bypassing waste treatment plants that could not possibly cope with such small particles. The problem is so serious that many shellfish beds have had to be closed to human consumption, where microfibers in the guts of marine animals growing near outlets is so high.


It is not only plastic fibres causing a problem, but also cotton that is being treated such that it does not decompose like the natural plant material.


The main culprit though, is thought to be clothing made from artificial fibres such as acrylic, nylon, rayon, viscose, polyesters and so on. All plastics. The clothing is much harder wearing, comfortable, and far cheaper, but the fibers are alien to the marine environment. Even plankton at the bottom of the food chain are ingesting plastic fibers. They in turn get eaten, and so on, until the biomagnification effect bites on humans, as carcinogens and even impotency. Plastic being a carrier of cancerous toxins.


Carpets and curtains also release micro fibers into our homes, then into the air and refuse system via vacuum cleaners, even where they have cyclonic filtration.



The Man in the White Suit, Alec Guinness invents everlasting fabric


INDESTRUCTIBLE MATERIAL - The Man in the White Suit is an Ealing Studios film from 1951 starring Alec Guinness as an inventor who creates a suit where the yarn is virtually unbreakable and does not get dirty. If only that was a possibility. Meantime, it makes sense to bridge the research gap with simple filters on machines that at the moment exhaust to the environment, free of any precautions whatsoever.


The same ethos could be applied to tyres, where the compound would not wear out, but then a reduction in tractive grip could become an obvious issue.






There is a great deal of very valuable research going on into prevention of textiles from breaking up and fragmenting, so much so that there is significant resistance to putting any kind of safety net in place to remove the harmful macro and microfibres using filters in domestic machines. We can imagine that any requirement to filter waste water might present an insurmountable hurdle to the manufacturing process, even though it should perhaps be looked at. But there is nothing to prevent the makers of white goods from developing a useful break in the link between the end user who washes their clothes regularly, and the ocean.


We consider that it would be inappropriate to seek to stifle innovation that could provide an interim solution, while our chemists seek to invent a material that (effectively) lasts forever. We'll settle for longer lasting. For, if a thread never breaks down into smaller fibres, that is what we are looking at - an everlasting fabric. But, we stand ready to be corrected if that proves to be a realistic prospect. Not by supposition, but by research backed data. This brings to mind the brilliant 1951 Ealing Studios comedy film starring Alec Guinness: "The Man in the White Suit"


We do agree that textiles might be developed that are tougher and more resistant to breaking down - and that this research should continue apace, where there appears to be so many research concerns studying the subject. Any and all stones should be turned over.


It also appears that many of the micro fibres in the ocean include cotton that does not break down due to treatments when making fabrics. A sort of plasticized version of the natural plant material.





A first and very simple step could be the introduction of filters on domestic washing machines, that are capable of straining out the tiny fibers, much like the mesh filter used on dryers, except that a different system would be needed to cope with much smaller fibres, such that they are easily emptied into the trash for recycling, rather than flushed down our drains during the rinse cycles - itself reliant on local authority drainage and waste treatments (or at least monitoring) being stepped up, where at the moment, their filters are not up to this particular challenge - and may prove too expensive.


Whether or not a super thread is developed in the future, it would be prudent to adopt a belt and braces approach to containing the problem. We cannot conceive that any reasonable person could object to such a proposal. It is impossible to say that an everlasting thread will not become a reality, as much as it is to say that a filter cannot be developed to catch really small fibres. That is the whole point of R&D. Keeping an open mind as to the possibilities. Regardless, filters that can contain macrofibres are used every day in clothes tumble dryers. And those macro fibres soon break down into microfibres.


This of course would pre-suppose that the textile industry would be willing to work with domestic machines manufacturers to solve one of the biggest issues of the day - and that chemists are willing to work with engineers.


We believe that much of the at present uncontrolled micro plastic waste, can be contained with a little ingenuity:







1. Filters capable of catching macro and (as developed) micro fibers should be included on all new domestic machines (home appliances) vacuum cleaners, clothes dryers and washing machines, to include those machines in Laundromats providing clothes washing and drying services to the public, and automatic car washes.


2. Research into methods of making textile yarns that are resistant to breaking down over the course of a 5-10 year lifespan should be undertaken as a priority, with ongoing vigilance and knowledge transfer between nations, and that such genuine research should be state supported.


3. Research into producing ropes that do not fragment as quickly as polypropylene in sunlight or seawater, should be undertaken as a priority, especially as it affects fishing gear, with a view to identifying a product that more naturally breaks down in our oceans if lost at sea and is sustainable in production, or alternatively, that where more resilient strands are used, that they should be tagged as per Article 4.


4. In the search for environmentally friendly fishing gear, means of using natural fibres to replace synthetics should be ramped up, with a constant weather eye open to adapt traditional methods with new technological advances.


5. Cooperation and transparency between research organizations toward achieving either of Sections 1. 2., or 3., or a combination of 1., 2., 3 and 4., should be addressed as a matter of policy, especially where much of this work is grant funded from the public purse.


6. Research into producing rubber compounds that degrade within a realistic timescale in seawater should be encouraged and where state rules allow, grant supported, or where state rules do not allow, that policies should be altered to allow such genuine research to be grant supported to include funding independent inventors over giant corporations, where promising innovation is apparent. The same incentives being applied to Section 4., above. The aim being to develop automotive tyres that are marine friendly, as quickly and efficiently as practical.


7. Once commercially available, there should be a phased in ban on the sale of new domestic and commercial washing machines without any form of fibre filtration incorporated in the waste water discharge circuit, exhausting to external drains.


8. New washing machines with fibre filtration means, should be quickly empty-able, such that their operators are not faced with an onerous task in the regular and routine servicing of the filters. Emptying sensors and visual/audible indicators may go some way to assisting the operators in this regard.


9. Clothing should be responsibly recycled as part of local and national schemes, that authorities are required to engage with and implement.


10. Textile manufacturers should be required to to take reasonable steps to ensure that during the production process, fibres are not released into atmosphere or water courses.


11. That in all existing factories where retrospective capture equipment is installed, plastic credits should be awarded.


12. That in new factories, plastic taxes should be applied as negative credits, for failing to install plastic fibre capture filtration equipment.


13. That the same requirements should be placed on manufacturers of strand glass or optic fibres used in the manufacture of composites or telecommunications equipment.


14. That with reference to plastic fibres and micro particles, this should include synthetic rubber compounds used to make automotive tyres, the same incentives and penalties being applied as if the product were plastic, with reference to Article 7.




Polypropylene synthetic rope 10mm blue      




1. Supermarket packaging transformation (back) to paper predominantly
2. Glass bottles, metal cans, waxed cartons over plastic, unless genuinely biodegradable 
3. Monitoring rivers and strict enforcement against micro-fiber spillages from treatment plants
4. Trackers for fishing nets and strict enforcement for dumping, unless accidents reported
5. Recycling of plastic to 90% with controlled incineration of 5% non-reusable elements, banks
6. Filtration on domestic machines to remove microfibres from clothing
7. Introduction of a plastic credit (incentives) trading scheme to drive the clean up





This small but nevertheless important part of the proposed clean revolution could help to eradicate at least a good percentage of plastic and rubber sources, suggested as being a voluntary upgrade by manufacturers of white goods, failing which legislation would need to step in to force the pace of appliance development.

Once again, producers of domestic goods not voluntarily adapting to help protect the oceans will be identified and targeted, not making us many friends in the corporate world, but gelling with conservationists and ordinary people who care about the environment. Corporations need not see us as the enemy, where we are here to help and show examples of adaptation that works, with phasing in incentives, such as to offer commercial advantage in the long-term - with rewards for sustainable designs.


We hope by this means, that where politicians have many conflicts of interest, blinding them and making them deaf, as to the voices of the many, that such show not tell strategy, will begin to affect manufacturers as much as buyers. You will appreciate that at the moment there is very little choice for consumers, where mainstream manufacturers are not giving them that opportunity.






KEEPING UP WITH THE TIMES - A machine without an easy to empty micro fiber filter, is like an old wooden washtub in ecological terms. Make sure your new machine is ocean friendly. When washing machines were first invented - they didn't have a plastic problem. Clothes were cut from natural cloth. We're all for a return to cotton and wool, if our leaders will not regulate the system to protect marine life.





    Narendra Modi for 1st plastic free prime minister of India Could Angela Merkel be the first plastic free Chancellor of Germany ?


    Could Xi Jinping be the first plastic free President of China ?    Bojo, Boris Johnson, hanging in there by the skin of his teeth







Now that France has enacted theIR microfibre legislation, it raises the bar for other governments to also take action, but they will only do so with enough pressure from the people they represent – you!


We need tougher MARPOL like legislation and enforcement, to prevent plastic from rivers flowing into the sea. We implore you to write to your MP, Senator, Prime Minister, President, Queen or King, to ask them to agree to introduce laws and rules that make it illegal in their countries to allow river waste (including microplastics) into territorial waters - and from there into international waters. A law like this is sure to trigger the introduction of monitoring, barriers and cleaning operations with equitable rewards for any organization providing such services. So far your leaders (except France) have demonstrated that they don't give a jot, and will not tackle the monopoly enjoyed by their political backers.




Pie chart infographic global release of microplastics rubber






AFP reports on the last announcement made by French environmnent minister Brune Poirson before her diagnosis with COVID-19: the planned introduction of plastic microfibre filters in washing machines, making France the first country to introduce this regulation.

Today, the French environment minister, Brune Poirson, organised a meeting of washing machine manufacturers to discuss the inclusion of plastic microfibre filters in all new washing machines. This measure will be part of the new law on the circular economy.

From 1 January 2025, all new washing machines sold in France will have to be fitted with these filters, which are meant to prevent tiny plastic fibres in clothing from entering the sewage system during the washing cycle, explained the environment ministry.

“Washing machine manufacturers will have to innovate to comply with this new standard," stated Brune Poirson.

The plastics used in clothing manufacture (polyester, acrylic, elastane) release particles when they are washed which are too small to be filtered by sewage treatment plants and end up in the environment, specifically the oceans.

According to figures published by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), microplastics represent between 15% and 31% of the 9.5 million tons of plastic released into the sea every year.

France is the first country in the world to propose legislation on this source of plastic pollution, requiring all washing machines to be equipped with microplastic filters by 2025.

Brune Poirson’s intention, in bringing together manufacturers, technological developers and NGOs, is to draw up a road map for implementation, to show how the objective could be met.

She wants to encourage manufacturers to put filters in their appliances as soon as possible, which would enable them to receive an environmental tax credit if they did so before 2025.

This measure "puts France at the forefront of the fight against microplastic pollution and at the vanguard of innovation for ecological transition", claimed Brune Poirson, who wants inventors and researchers to see France "as a large scale laboratory for comprehensive solutions".

In France, about 2.7 million washing machines are sold every year, which equates to more than 7,000 per day, according to figures provided by Gifam, the trade association of household appliance manufacturers in France. More than 97% of French households have a washing machine, and over 5,900 French businesses, such as launderettes, use washing machines in their principal activity.






In 2016 Mojca Zupan visited a special exhibit on microplastic fibers in her hometown of Ljubljana, Slovenia. It ended up changing the course of her professional life. After learning about the severity of the pollution problem, Zupan left her job as a corporate lawyer to found PlanetCare, a company that produces a reusable microfiber filter for household use.

Microfibers are tiny plastic particles that range in size from 1 nanometer to 5 millimeters. When a garment is laundered, the churning and vibration of the washing machine, combined with the friction from other clothes, causes fibers to dislodge from the fabric and enter the wash water. While this happens to all material types, whether natural or synthetic, it's the synthetic microfibers that are of greatest concern, as they're essentially made from non-biodegradable plastic. It's estimated that an average-sized 13-pound (6-kg) load of laundry releases 700,000 microfibers.

The microfiber-filled water moves from the washing machine into the household wastewater stream and, even though it may pass through a treatment facility, most microfibers cannot filtered out at that stage; even if they are, wastewater treatment facilities generate sludge that farmers will often collect to spread on agricultural fields, thus speeding up the proliferation of microfibers in the natural environment. Meanwhile, it's estimated that 35% of all microplastics in the oceans originated in washing machines.

Enter Zupan's clever invention – the PlanetCare filter. Designed for easy installation on the outside of a washing machine, it connects to the water supply and collects up to 90% of a wash load's fibers inside a sealed cartridge. After 20 loads, the cartridge is swapped out for a fresh one, while the old one is dried and kept until the user has refilled the box that was sent to them by PlanetCare. This gets shipped back to the company, which removes the microfibers, cleans the cartridges, and refurbishes them for reuse. Each cartridge can be used up to six times.

As Zupan explained to Treehugger in an interview over Skype, it's designed to be a closed system that prevents the user from coming into contact with the fibers – similar to a Brita water filter. "We don't want people rinsing their filters in the sink," she said, as that would defeat the purpose.

What does PlanetCare do with all those fibers? Right now, because the filter is only 2.5 years old and has been adopted by 1,000 households or so, PlanetCare is just collecting the fibers and saving them for when it has enough to start experimenting with potential solutions. These solutions could include partially melting and reforming them into insulation panels for washing machines (an interesting idea that brings the fibers full-circle) or using it in car upholstery. 

As chemist and chief science officer Andrej Kržan explained, PlanetCare is avoiding incineration and landfill at all costs. He told Treehugger that they'd like to find a solution where the waste fibers have a value of their own, similar to Adidas' partnership with environmental group Parley for the Oceans, which is making running shoes from recycled ocean plastic. "We'll like to find a way for our fibers to be used and seen, while giving added value to a product and our story," Kržan said.

Not everyone supports the idea of household filtering. Eco-toxicologist Mark Browne from the University of New South Wales in Australia said there's not enough research to back up claims that domestic filters are effective. Kevin Messner, a vice-president of the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers that advises washing machine manufacturers, called it a "feel-good solution that practically won't solve the problem."

But where else is a concerned individual supposed to start? The washing machine is the one place through which all garments must pass at some point; it's a logical point at which to try to contain pollution. In Kržan's words, "At that point we have fibers not mixed with organic matter and other things, but in a relatively clean stream of water. Once you get fibers in the environment, I can't imagine any way to get them back." (via CNN)

Zupan has likened laundry filters to catalytic converters on cars, which filter harmful pollutants such as carbon monoxide out of exhaust fumes. Similar measures should be required on all washing machines – and that change is bound to come, made apparent by France's decision to outfit every new washing machine with a microfiber filter by 2025. Additionally, unless there's a consumer product on the market, how else will broader policy changes come about? Zupan told Treehugger,

"If you don't get the product out there, and you don't have people using it, then you can't move policymakers. We need to change the way we wash forever and the only way to do that is to put it on the market.

PlanetCare is scaling up, slowly but surely, aided by surging interest in the microplastic pollution problem. Right now most of its filters are used in Europe, with the highest uptake in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, and some in the United States. Once it has 3,000 users in the U.S. it plans to deploy a mobile refurbishing unit, based out of a shipping container, that would give American and Canadian customers a closer location to send used cartridges.

It's a tough problem to crack because nobody wants to take responsibility for it. As Zupan told Bloomberg recently, "Washing machine producers say they aren’t the source, which is true. But the fashion industry doesn't want to own it. Then there’s the textile industry, the chemical industry — you can go back and back." But the fact remains that it does have to be dealt with, and unless everyone is going to start buying all-natural clothing (unrealistic), it's only going to get worse. 

PlanetCare's filter is the best option we've got at this point, and both Zupan and Kržan are thinking big in terms of expansion. Bloomberg reports that the company is "expanding its retrofit business with help from a recently secured 1.6 million euro ($1.9 million) grant from the European Commission, while also seeking to close a 700,000 euro private investment round by the end of this year." 

PlanetCare, which was named best product on the market by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, is a name you're probably going to hear a lot more in years to come, so you might as well get ahead of the curve and order your own starter set of 7 cartridges (a typical six-month supply) for $112. "Those of us who can afford to [be early adopters] have an obligation to do so," Zupan said over Skype, and she is right.




La secrétaire d'Etat à la Transition écologique, Brune Poirson, réunit lundi les fabricants de lave-linge pour préparer l'application d'une mesure adoptée dans la loi pour l'économie circulaire: l'installation de filtres à microfibres plastiques dans les machines à laver neuves.

A compter du 1er janvier 2025, les lave-linge neufs devront être munis de ces filtres, qui sont destinés à empêcher le passage dans les eaux usées des fibres plastiques microscopiques libérées par les vêtements au cours du lavage, a-t-on expliqué au ministère de la Transition écologique.

"Les fabricants de machines à laver vont devoir innover pour s'adapter à ce nouveau standard", a souligné Brune Poirson.

Les plastiques utilisés dans la confection (polyester, acrylique, élasthanne) libèrent des particules au lavage qui sont trop petites pour être filtrées dans les usines de traitement, et se retrouvent dans l'environnement et notamment dans les océans.

Les microplastiques représenteraient entre 15 % et 31 % des 9,5 millions de tonnes de plastiques déversées chaque année en mer, selon des chiffres de l'UICN (Union internationale pour la conservation de la nature).

La France est le premier pays au monde à légiférer sur cette source de pollution plastique, en imposant d'équiper les machines à laver de filtres à microplastiques d'ici 2025.

En réunissant les industriels du secteur, ainsi que des porteurs de solutions technologiques de filtres et des ONG, Brune Poirson veut établir une feuille de route permettant d'atteindre l'objectif fixé.

La secrétaire d'Etat veut inciter les fabricants à intégrer les filtres dans leurs appareils dès que possible, ce qui leur permettrait d'obtenir un bonus environnemental s'ils le font avant 2025.

La mesure "place la France à l'avant-garde de la lutte contre la pollution aux microplastiques et de l'innovation pour la transition écologique", a affirmé Brune Poirson qui souhaite que les inventeurs et chercheurs voient la France "comme un laboratoire de solutions à grande échelle".

Quelque 2,7 millions de lave-linge sont vendus en France chaque année, soit plus de 7.000 par jour, selon des chiffres du Gifam, la fédération professionnelle du secteur. Plus de 97 % des foyers français sont équipés d'un lave-linge.

Aux ménages s'ajoutent 5.900 établissements professionnels en France qui utilisent des machines à laver (pressings et blanchisseries).





FASHION REVOLUTION.ORG - What impact do microfibres have on the environment and on human health?

Due to the tiny size of microplastics, they can be ingested by marine animals which can have catastrophic effects on the species and the entire marine ecosystem.

Microfibres can absorb chemicals present in the water or sewage sludge, such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and carcinogenic Persistent Organic Pollutants (PoPs). They can also contain chemical additives, from the manufacturing phase of the materials, such as plasticisers (a substance added to improve plasticity and flexibility of a material), flame retardants and antimicrobial agents (a chemical that kills or stops the growth of microorganisms like bacteria). These chemicals can leach from the plastic into the oceans or even go straight into the bloodstream of animals that ingest the microfibres. Once ingested, microfibres can cause gut blockage, physical injury, changes to oxygen levels in cells in the body, altered feeding behaviour and reduced energy levels, which impacts growth and reproduction [e][f]. Due to this, the balance of whole ecosystems can be affected, with the impacts travelling up the food chain and sometimes making their way into the food we eat! It has been suggested that people that eat European bivalves (such as mussels, clams and oysters) can ingest over 11,000 microplastic particles per year [g]. 

What can fashion brands do?


The fashion industry needs to take responsibility for minimising future microfibre releases. Brands can have the most impact if they take microfibre release into consideration at the design and manufacturing stages. Designers should consider several criteria in order to minimise the environmental impact of a synthetic garment [c]:

- Use textiles which have been tested to ensure minimal release of synthetic microfibres into the environment.

- Ensure the product is durable so it remains out of landfill as long as possible

- Consider how the garment and textile waste could be recycled, to achieve a circular system. 


During manufacture, there are several methods that can be applied to reduce microfibre shedding such as brushing the material, using laser and ultrasound cutting [e], coatings and pre-washing garments [a]. The length of the yarn, type of weave, and method for finishing seams may all be factors affecting shedding rates. However, much more research from brands needs to occur in order to determine best practices in reducing microfibres and create industry-wide solutions.

Waste-water treatment


Waste-water treatment plants (where all our used water gets filtered and treated) are currently between 65-90% efficient at filtering microfibres [f]. Research and innovations into improving the efficiency of capturing microfibres in wastewater treatment plants is essential to prevent them escaping into our environment.

Washing machine filters


Improving and developing commercial washing machine filters that can capture microfibres may allow for an additional level of filtration, whilst also educating consumers and businesses [h]. However, current filters which need to be fitted by the user, such as that developed by Wexco, are currently expensive and reportedly difficult to install. They also place a financial burden upon the consumers, rather than pressurising brands to commit to change. To tackle this, we need more industry research and legislation to ensure all new washing machines are fitted with effective filters to capture the maximum amount of microfibres possible. However, we then have the issue of what to do with the microfibres once we have caught them – an area which requires more research and industry collaboration. 

Collaboration is key


Collaboration across multiple industries is required if we are to tackle microfibre pollution. In addition to material research, waste management and washing machine research and development, there is a role for other sectors such as detergent manufacturers and the recycling industry to come together to help reduce microfibre pollution. Cross-industrial agreements could help promote collaboration between industry bodies and promote sharing of resources and knowledge.

A major issue has been a lack of a standardised measure of measuring microfibre release. However, a cross-industry group, The Microfibre Consortium recently announced the first microfibre test method. The launch will enable its members (including brands, detergent manufacturers and research bodies) to accelerate research that leads to product development change and a reduction in microfibre shedding in the fashion, sport, outdoor and home textiles industries. The Microfibre Consortium also works to develop practical solutions for the textile industry to minimise microfibre release to the environment from textile manufacturing and product life cycles.

The need for microfibre legislation


Comprehensive legislative action is needed to send a strong message and force the brands to address microfibre releases from their textiles. This is a complicated issue that will require policymakers to tackle this issue on many different levels and sectors. Currently, there are no EU regulations that address microfibre release by textiles, nor are they included in the Water Framework Directive.

However, there have been several developments in microfibre legislation in the past few years:

As of February 2020, Brune Poirson, French Secretary of State for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, is the first politician in the world to pass microfibre legislation. As of January 2025, all new washing machines in France will have to include a filter to stop synthetic clothes from polluting our waterways. This makes France the first country in the world to take legislative steps in the fight against plastic microfibre pollution. The measure is included in the anti-waste law for a circular economy.


In 2018, US states of California and Connecticut proposed legislation which would see polyester garments legally required to bear warning labels regarding their potential to shed microfibres during domestic washing cycles. However, this legislation is yet to be passed.


In 2019, the EAC urged the UK government to accelerate research into the relative environmental performance of different materials, particularly with respect to measures to reduce microfibre pollution, as part of an Extended Producer Responsibility scheme. However, the UK government rejected the proposal stating that current voluntary measures are sufficient.





700,000 plastic microfibers per washing machine load



MICROPLASTICS ARE EVERYWHERE - Washing machines are a major source of this plastic pollution. Researchers found that an average 6 kg load of laundry releases more than 700,000 microscopic plastic fibers into wastewater. These plastic fibers come from synthetic textiles like polyester. Synthetic textiles have become prevalent in our wardrobes. Over 60% of textiles are synthetic. This has opened the door for microplastic to pollute every corner of the Earth.

Microplastics have now been found at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, on remote alpine peaks, and in our food and drinking water. Due to their small sizes they are highly mobile and easily ingested by many organisms. They also have the ability to bind chemical pollutants. Studies show they cause poisoning, infertility, and genetic disruption. It is known that microplastics can enter human body through the nose or mouth and small enough particles can end up in our lung tissues.





Changing your washing practices


The easiest thing you can do to minimise microfibres releasing from your clothing is to simply wash your clothes less. Given that up to 700,000 microfibres can detach in a single wash [c] ask yourself if that item really needs to be washed or can it be worn once or twice more before you do?

While some research suggested using a liquid detergent, lower washing machine temperatures, gentler washing machine settings [c] and using a front-loading washing machine [i] can reduce microfibre shedding. Researcher Imogen Napper stated they found that there was no clear evidence suggesting that changing the washing conditions gave any meaningful effect in reducing microfibre release.

You can also use a Cora Ball, a guppy bag or a self-installed washing machine filter to capture microfibres from your clothing. The CoraBall and Lint LUV-R (an install yourself washing machine filter) have been shown to reduce the number of microfibres in wastewater by an average of 26% and 87%, respectively [j]. Although these can’t solve the problem, we still want to divert as many microplastics as we can from entering our waterways.

Should we all switch from synthetic fibres?


While many people’s first instinct is to switch from synthetic materials to natural materials to minimise microfibre release, this is not always a simple choice as there are other sustainability aspects involved. The UK’s Environmental Audit Committee in their report states ‘A kneejerk switch from synthetic to natural fibres in response to the problem of ocean microfibre pollution would result in greater pressures on land and water use – given current consumption rates’ [k]. 

Demand brands to do more to take action on microfibres

“Ultimate responsibility for stopping this pollution, however, must lie with the companies making the products that are shedding the fibres.” states the Environmental Audit Committee [k], but there are still too many major fashion brands not taking responsibility for what happens in their supply chains and in the life cycle of their products. As well as demanding action from your policymaker, we should also ask brands what they are doing to minimize the microfibre release from their products. It is clear that there is still a lot of work to do, and as their customers, we have a lot of power in influencing the impacts of the brands we buy.








More than 15 million tons of used textile waste is generated each year in the United States. The amount has doubled over the last 20 years.


In 2014, 16.2 million tons of textile waste was generated, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Of this amount, 2.62 million tons were recycled, 3.14 million tons were combusted for energy recovery, and 10.46 million tons were sent to the landfill. For 2019, the national Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) landfill tip fee average was $55.36/ton. Synthetic clothing may take between 20 to 200 years to decompose.

Consumers are regarded as the main culprit for throwing away their used clothing, as only 15% of consumer-used clothing is recycled, whereas more than 75% of pre-use clothing is recycled by the manufacturers.

The average person buys 60% more items of clothing every year and keeps them for about half as long as 15 years ago, generating a huge amount of waste. 

The average total life span of a piece of clothing is 5.4 years.

The annual environmental impact of a household’s clothing is equivalent to the water needed to fill 1,000 bathtubs and the carbon emissions from driving an average modern car for 6,000 miles. If the average life of clothing was extended by just three months, it would reduce their carbon and water footprints, as well as waste generation, by five to 10%.

The recycling of 2.62 million tons of clothing per year equates to taking 1.3 million cars from U.S. streets.

According to the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART), nearly 100% of all used clothing and household textiles can be re-used or recycled: 45% are re-used as apparel; 30% are converted into industrial polishing/wiping cloths and 20% are processed into fiber to be manufactured into new products. 95% of all used clothing is recyclable, only 5% is unusable due to mildew or other contamination.

All these facts indicate the textile recycling industry in the United States has great potential to expand, given that 84.8% of used textiles went to national landfills and 15.2% were recycled in 2017. The next steps involve increased initiatives to promote recycling, as well as harmonization of collection efforts. 




Manufacturers should look to replace single use plastic in packaging wherever practical. Supermarkets should look for alternative packaging if it would not detract from the quality of produce or make them uncompetitive. They might support a plastic-oil circular economy with recycling depositories at their stores. 


Producers of white good appliances should manufacture from recycle-able materials, indicating that such consideration has been included at the design stage, to give customers informed choices. Customers should choose their washing and drying machines with care, not to oversize - such as to save energy.


Drum (also sometimes referred to as a tub) sizes for washing machines typically range from 5kg to 12kg. The weight measurement represents the number of kilos of dry clothes the drum can hold. Normally, the larger the drum size, the better the washing machine will be at handling mountains of laundry in one go, for large families. However, big is not necessarily the best way to go. What you need to do is find a washing machine whose drum will be able to keep up with your usual load of clothes.







Many washing machines don't double up as a dryer, where stand alone dryers are commonly more efficient, if space allows. Spinning is a better way to remove water from clothes at the end of a wash. The higher the spin speed, the more water your washing machine can draw out, which means the less time the clothes will require to air or machine dry. Hence, fast spin speeds should be high on the list of priorities for your washing machine. 

Washing machine manufacturers measure spin cycles in revolutions per minute (rpm), with options usually ranging from 1000rpm to 1800rpm. You can also find models with a spin cycle of just 800rmp. Spin speeds of between 1200 and 1400 rpm are considered good enough, since delicate fabrics can be sufficiently wrung at a spin speed of just 500rpm while a spin cycle of 1000rpm will be adequate for something heavier like a pair of jeans.

One last thing to remember when shopping for a washing machine is that you will need to measure up your space beforehand.





AWW SHUCKS - The invention of the washing machine was and is a wonderful thing. Freeing us up to enjoy life more, as with all labour saving devices. In the past these machines were not the all singing and dancing affairs they are today. Humans still had to help in clothes processing. Today we just select a program, push a button and walk away.






A laundry room should be one of the most functional and workable rooms in your home. Ideally, the area should have plenty of natural or artificial light, counter space to sort and fold clothes, secure storage for laundry products, and adequate space for all laundry equipment. Whether you are building a new home or remodeling.

According to a National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB) consumer preference survey, 95 percent of new homeowners request a separate laundry room.

No matter how much you love or hate your current washer and dryer, you will replace them someday. So, don't customize the laundry room design to the appliance units you have now, unless a standard size. It's better to leave extra space beside and above appliances.

Adding extra insulation to the walls and floor of the laundry room will help reduce noise pollution in other areas of the home. A (wet room) floor drain is also great protection for the rest of the house in the event a washer hose breaks or the washer overflows. It happens all too often.

Lastly, make sure the laundry room does not ventilate airbourne micro fibres into the main living area, or you and your children will be breathing in that plastic, to (potentially) clog your lungs. Vents to outside, should have a filter that is easily removed, cleaned and replaced. Like you dryer, and (new) washing machine : )







INDIFFERENCE - Tangled in a societal maze and cemented by big business oligarchs, what chance does an oyster or muscle stand, let alone a turtle, where they cannot speak, write, or vote.


You can speak for them by not purchasing goods in packaged in plastic, unless it is responsibly recycled, and by fitting a filter to your domestic machines, where they empty to a sewage treatment system.






Governments simply don't care enough at the moment to revise their policies, because it's cheaper to take a dump in the ocean and heaven forbid, spend money on filtration for the sake of biodiversity. Politicians are reeling from climate change, they know that nobody can see them dumping waste in the oceans, and it underpins their frail economies to continue to do so - for the sake of getting re-elected. It's all about power, not lives. They will continue to slaughter defenseless animals, so long as the electorate continue to do nothing. Doing nothing is the same as agreeing with the slaughter. That is why we had World War Two, the moral world finally had to act to stop Nazi Germany invading and taking over the less able in Europe, leading to concentration camps, to eliminate political opponents and genocide on an industrial scale.


That will only change with a food crises and poisoned fish being declared carcinogenically inedible by the World Health Organization. I.e. with cancer victims falling like Covid-19 victims, taking up hospital beds. And even then that will only be because of the rising Healthcare bills. Governments actually seem to like it when elderly vulnerable patients go to the grave early. It's like ethnic cleansing, but legal. Or is it? Is it legal to engineer a situation where because human life expectancy is higher and so medical costs in later life are more of a social burden to a state, that health trusts, doctors and nurses are trained to give minimalist treatments to the elderly, so that in effect, their life expectancy is cut short - meaning that people not only die earlier, but also in considerable pain with loss of quality of life. Surely that is a form of state sanctioned murder that can only get worse if we engineer toxins into our seafood?






[a] Boucher, J. and Friot, D. (2017). Primary Microplastics in the Oceans: A Global Evaluation of Sources. IUCN. Available at: https://portals.iucn.org/library/sites/library/files/documents/2017-002-En.pdf 

[b] Textile Exchange (2019). Preferred Fiber and Material Market Report. Available at: https://store.textileexchange.org/wp-content/uploads/woocommerce_uploads/2019/11/Textile-Exchange_Preferred-Fiber-Material-Market-Report_2019.pdf

[c] Napper, I. and Thompson, R. (2016). Release of synthetic microplastic plastic fibres from domestic washing machines: Effects of fabric type and washing conditions. Marine Pollution Bulletin. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X16307639?via%3Dihub 

[d] Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2017). A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future. Available at: https://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/assets/downloads/publications/A-New-Textiles-Economy_Full-Report_Updated_1-12-17.pdf 

[e] Koelmans, A., Bakir, A., Burton, G. and Janssen, C. (2016). Microplastic as a Vector for Chemicals in the Aquatic Environment: Critical Review and Model-Supported Reinterpretation of Empirical Studies. Environmental Science & Technology. Available at: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.5b06069 

[f] Henry, B., Laitala, K. and Grimstad Klepp, I. (2018). Microplastic pollution from textiles: A literature review. Consumption Research Norway SIFO. Available at: https://www.hioa.no/eng/About-HiOA/Centre-for-Welfare-and-Labour-Research/SIFO/Publications-from-SIFO/Microplastic-pollution-from-textiles-A-literature-review 

[g] Van Cauwenberghe, L. and Janssen, C. (2014). Microplastics in bivalves cultured for human consumption. Environmental Pollution. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749114002425 

[h] Browne, M., Crump, P., Niven, S., Teuten, E., Tonkin, A., Galloway, T. and Thompson, R. (2011). Accumulation of Microplastic on Shorelines Worldwide: Sources and Sinks. Environmental Science & Technology. Available at: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es201811s 

[i] Hartline, N., Bruce, N., Karba, S., Ruff, E., Sonar, S. and Holden, P. (2016). Microfiber Masses Recovered from Conventional Machine Washing of New or Aged Garments. Environmental Science & Technology. Available at: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.6b03045 

[j] McIlwraith, H., Lin, J., Erdle, L., Mallos, N., Diamond, M. and Rochman, C. (2019). Capturing microfibers – marketed technologies reduce microfiber emissions from washing machines. Marine Pollution Bulletin. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpolbul.2018.12.012 

[k] Environmental Audit Committee (2019). Fixing Fashion: clothing consumption and sustainability. House of Commons. Available at: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmenvaud/1952/1952.pdf











































1. Greenpeace. "Black Friday: Greenpeace Calls Timeout for Fast Fashion." Accessed Nov. 6, 2020.

2. Environmental Protection Agency. "Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: 2014 Fact Sheet," Page 8. Accessed Nov. 6, 2020.

3. Environmental Research & Education Foundation. "Analysis of MSW Landfill Tipping Fees—April 2019," Page 1. Accessed Nov. 6, 2020.

4. Close the Loop. "The Loop - Phase: End of Life." Accessed Nov. 6, 2020.

5. Netherlands Enterprise Agency, Center for the Promotion of Imports. "The European Market Potential for Recycled Fashion." Accessed Nov. 6, 2020.

6. Product Lifetimes and the Environment. "Age and Active Life of Clothing." Accessed Nov. 6, 2020.

7. Waste and Resources Action Plan. "Valuing Our Clothes," Page 2. Accessed Nov. 6, 2020.

8. Environmental Protection Agency. "Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: 2014 Fact Sheet," Page 15. Accessed Nov. 6, 2020.

9. Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association. "Frequently Asked Questions," Select "How Are Textiles Recycled?" Accessed Nov. 6, 2020.

10. Environmental Protection Agency. "Textiles: Material-Specific Data." Accessed Nov. 6, 2020.





HARBOURS - The ocean washes up a small percentage of plastic flotsam to remind us of our sins. All the beach and marina cleaning is unable to keep up with the dumping in our rivers, which ends up swirling about the seven seas.







PLASTIC SNACKS - Below the waves and out of sight, marine life is eating plastic like there is no tomorrow, and there may well be, if nothing is done about it. Nets are trapping and suffocating wildlife and beaches are strewn with fishing discards and plastic flotsam. Big business is responsible, but not so much as the politicians who allowed this situation to develop.






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