Column: Life on Earth

This week’s topic: Microfibers

By Elle Storoe

While washing clothes keep us clean, it’s also very harmful to the environment. Microfibers are micro-plastics that clothing, towels, and other fabrics release every time it is washed. The microfibers are exceedingly small particles of synthetic fabric that come from fabric while the items are in the washing machine. These tiny fibers travel from the clothes, towels, etc. through water pipes, and into oceans and rivers, thus creating pollution. Since the fibers are so small, it is consumed by marine animals. Not only are microfibers bad for marine life it is bad for humans as well. We often drink water polluted with microfibers and eat marine animals with microfibers in them. BBC researchers found that one article of clothing can produce more than 1,900 microfibers in just one cycle. Considering that 60 percent of clothing is made with the synthetic materials that produce the microfibers, it is easy to say that we are letting thousands of microfibers into the oceans every week. 

How we can help:

There are a few ways we can prevent thousands of microfibers from entering the oceans and rivers. One way we can help is buy getting a device that collects the microfibers before it leaves the washing machine (like the Cora Ball). Another way we can prevent microfibers from going into the ocean is to wash clothing less often. Lastly, we can avoid fast fashion products, cheaply made products have a higher chance of producing microfibers.