How to Reduce Your Microplastic Footprint

Let's talk about some little things that are doing some serious damage to the environment — microplastics! What are they? Where do they come from? What can we do about them?

The Plastics We Wear

Take a look at the label on a piece of clothing from your closet. Is it made of acrylic, polyester (check out our blog about sustainable polyester!), or nylon? How about spandex or polyamide? If so, this garment is made with plastic. As plastic fibers degrade, they shed nasty little buggers called microplastics while you’re wearing the garment and at even higher volumes when you wash it.

Sustainable Tops | The Billie Box Top

The Billie Box Top, made with sustainable and natural fibers. 

Plastic, Plastic, Everywhere

The UN reports that upwards of 60% of fabric made into clothing contains synthetic fibers. And a very necessary household chore, laundry, causes around half a million tons of microplastic to slip past wastewater treatment plants and end up in our oceans every year. A recent study published in Frontiers in Marine Science found that 73% of fish caught at mid-ocean depths in the Northwest Atlantic had microplastic in their stomachs.

Microplastics can also travel through the air we breathe, making their way into our lungs and the lungs of other animals. We even find them in the food we eat. Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam found that 80% of the meat and dairy products that were tested in a recent study contained microplastics. And to boot, microplastics absorb and carry contaminants like pesticides to their next destination as they move about the environment.

OK, we know that’s a lot of info and might feel overwhelming. But the good news is that there are solutions! 

Chennai Mini Dress, Chevron Fern Red | Wearwell sustainable, eco-friendly fashion and accessories

Chennai Mini Dress, made with sustainable and natural fibers

Major Small Steps Towards Change

Brands, like our brand partners at wearwell, are working to lower the use of microfiber pollution. If you want to personally contribute to reducing the amount of microplastic you shed, it’s as simple as changing the way you do laundry!

Fabrics shed most when there is friction, like what happens in the washing machine, so try these tips to reduce that friction:

  • Fill your washing machine to its full capacity (without overflowing!). The maximum suggested capacity will reduce extra space in the tank and therefore reduce friction.
  • Use liquid soap. The granules of detergent powder have a scrubbing effect that sets those microplastics free and out to sea.
  • Wash at cool temperatures. Already a great way to save energy, it also reduces fabric damage that would shed microplastics.
  • Wash only when necessary. Before throwing something in the machine consider wearing it again, spot cleaning, or hand washing to extend the wear time between loads.

In addition, there are plenty of products that have become available in recent years designed specifically to catch microplastics during the washing process, like microplastic-trapping ballswash bags, or washing machine filters. 

Sustainable Dresses | Arden Linen Dress

The Arden Linen Dress, made with natural fibers

We can also be mindful of the fiber content of the garments we buy, taking note of how best to care for them, and choosing natural fibers like linen, organic cotton, modal, and silk, when possible. A few of our favorite natural fiber pieces right now are the Billie Box Top, Chennai Mini Dress, and Arden Linen Dress.

For more sustainable style swaps, check out What We're Loving Now!

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