Bags, straws, bottles... the hunt for plastic has begun all over the world to reduce the 8 million tonnes of waste that end up in the oceans every year. Amongst those responsible for this plastic pollution, synthetic clothes are often forgotten.
Each time we wash our clothes, we release microfibres.
Many of these are not retained by the treatment plants and pollute the oceans, from the poles to the abyss. In North America, even though 95% of the fibres are intercepted during wastewater treatment, 878 tonnes end up in the sea each year.
Microplastics (less than 1mm) account for 15 to 31% of plastics dumped at sea. Ingested by marine organisms, their components accumulate throughout the food chain. France is the first country in the world to legislate on this source of pollution. From January 1st 2025, every washing machine sold in France will have to be fitted with a filter that captures microfibres.
In the meantime, there are ways to limit this pollution: wash less often and at a low temperature, use liquid detergent (less abrasive), fill the washing machine to limit friction, do not use a tumble dryer and change your wardrobe less often, as the first few washes generate more microfibres.
Figure: A synthetic garment can lose more than 1900 fibres per wash.