The 7 Scary Ways Microfibers Impact Our Ecosystem

When it comes to shopping for apparel, things can get overwhelming, fast. Many shoppers take into account style, fit, price, and comfort before making a single purchase. In recent years, we’re seen a growing movement of fashion-related concerns that are less about fit and much more about the clothes themselves. Shoppers are starting to wonder about just where their clothing came from, and how their outfit may impact the environment.

We’ve all probably worn microfibers, whether for our winter jackets, a cozy fleece blanket, or our extra absorbent workout socks. But recent research raises serious concerns about how healthy this is for our environment, and what possible solutions we have to replace this everyday item in our clothing. 

We’ve broken down the seven things you need to know about microfibers and how we can make healthier choices for the environment, starting with our wardrobe. 

1.Your synthetic fleeces are shedding, and it's a big problem.

Recent research suggests that on average, our synthetic fleece jackets release 1.7 grams of microfibers each time we wash them. And if you're washing an older item, you can count on it releasing as much as double the amount of fibers in each wash. This means a lot of microfibers are going into the water in our washing machines and being sent straight back to our environment. Not good. 

2. What's bad about microfibers entering our water?

To put it simply, the amount of microfibers being released into our water is seriously harming our fish. In fact, it has a negative impact on our entire underwater eco-system. 

3. How far-reaching is this problem?

The size of the microfibers makes them really easy for fish to consume and other underwater wildlife. Because larger animals often eat fish and small sea creatures, microfibers can easily bioaccumulate and end up in the bodies of the animals which consume fish. As the circle of life goes, these microfibers can end up higher up the food chain in virtually no time.

4. Yes, they’re similar to microbeads, which have already been banned in the US.

You've probably heard of microbeads before, which have already been banned in the US. Microbeeds are responsible for a huge amount of shoreline debris. Just how much is huge? Mark Browne discovered found that microfibers made up 85% of human-made debris on shorelines around the world.

6. So, how can we avoid microfibers?

One of the most common places we run into microfibers is in our outdoor clothing, such as our fleece jackets or exercise-specific tops, bottoms, and leggings. Look for outdoor clothing that comes with an anti-shed component or that you're able to coat with an anti-shed treatment. It's also desirable to avoid purchasing microfibers, period.

7. Changing the way you wash your clothes can help, too.

 There are lots of innovations happening in the world of washers and dryers. For example, there are amazing waterless washing machines which allow you to wash your clothes in pressurized carbon dioxide, no water needed. If you're not able to make that kind of commitment right now, you can always seek out washing machines with a filter.

LivingSirensong Wetsuits Bring Sustainable Splash To Surfing

The material, Yamamoto neoprene, requires less energy to process and avoids any potential oil spill risks.  

2 weeks ago
LivingEngineers Have Developed A System To Make Houses Float During Flooding

The Buoyancy Foundation Project is encouraging people in certain flood risk areas to consider retrofitting their homes with a foundation that floats, but its being met with resistance in the U.S. despite success in many communities around the world.

3 weeks ago
Living'Sponge Cities' Combat Floods By Replacing Cement With Wetlands

"Sponge Cities" are a new initiative designed to contend with climate change and rising water in cities built to reject rain water, rather than absorb or use it.

3 weeks ago
LivingThese Prefabricated 'Hobbit Homes' Are The Cutest Way To Have A Green Roof

Green Magic Homes combines the house of your fantasies with a dream for a greener Earth.

3 weeks ago
Stay Green
Sign up for our daily newsletter