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It feels nice and soft, I’d like to wear it.

Pupil, aged 8

David Luke on Microplastics

Microplastics

Microplastics have become a huge issue globally, with tiny plastic particles polluting our oceans. Experts say between 700,000 and 12m microfibres can shed during one single load of laundry. It’s not just in our oceans, microplastics have started turning up in our food chain, as well as polluting the air that we breathe. One major source found that washing our clothes is the main culprit. Even cosmetic or oral products have micro-beads/fibres in them, as well as clothing. Clothing, whether man-made or natural fibres, will give off some form of shedding. It is inevitable when exposed to a washing machine and the vigorous cycles of washing.

So what can we do to help? Well, here are a few simple changes we can make to ensure our laundry isn’t contributing to the problem.

1. Get a filter

Guppyfriend is a laundry bag that you put your clothes into which catches the tiny microplastics during the washing cycle.
Another alternative is a Coraball, which is an object you place into the washing machine, alongside your laundry, that captures the tiny microplastics within the specially designed edges on the ball. Once the washing machine has finished, simply dispose of any fibres caught and put them into the bin.
There are also filters that you can plug into your washing, which prevent microplastics from entering our waterways.

2. Cooler & faster cycles

Turning down the temperature of your wash can lead to fewer microplastics. A recent study found that washing clothes at 15c on a 30-minute cycle led to a 30% reduction of microplastics released, compared to a 40c wash. We understand that washing school uniform at 15c may not get some stains out, so we would advise washing at 30c where possible. Always check the wash care label for washing instructions and look out for the ‘not too dirty, wash at 30’.

3. A full load

A full washing machine not only reduces our water and energy consumption but is more eco-friendly. It can also lead to fewer microplastics released into the environment, as there is less friction between clothes.

4. Say no to the delicate cycle

Usually used for knitwear and lingerie, this setting uses twice as much water as typical cycles and releases on average 800,000 more microfibers. So say no to the delicate cycle!

5. Shop secondhand

Your clothing releases the most microfibres within its first 8 washes. Meaning newer clothes release more fibres than the stuff you already own. Extending the lifespan of garments and buying secondhand are positive changes you can make. When you grow out of your school uniform, why not pass it on to someone else or donate it to a charity shop. Some school uniform shops offer second-hand items, so next time you go into the shop, ask if you can donate your old school uniform to them.

Find out more information on microplastics.

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It doesn't feel rough, like you might have thought something made out of plastic would.

Pupil, aged 9

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