Waterwise Wednesday: Dirty Laundry

Photo © Andrey Bourdioukov

Cleaning synthetic clothes dirties the environment with microfibers according to a study by UC Santa Barbara’s Bren School of Environmental Science & Management.

The microfibers shed during washing and drying then flow in the wastewater to the treatment plant. About 5% of the microfibers accumulate in the sludge which is ultimately used to make compost fertilizer. Smaller percentages are released with treated water back into waterways or landfilled.

Amazingly, that 5% has become,”5.6 million metric tonnes (Mt) of synthetic microfibers emitted from apparel washing between 1950 and 2016, with 2.9 Mt finding their way into waterbodies and a combined 2.5 Mt emitted onto terrestrial environments (1.9 Mt) and landfilled (0.6 Mt),” says the Science Daily article.

According to the researchers, simple cheap solutions can prevent microfiber release at the source. Microfiber filters in dryers, selecting a gentler wash methods, washing clothes less often, and foregoing synthetic fabrics among the list.

For more information see the full article at Science Daily

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