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Campaign Tackles Plastic Microfibre Pollution

Hubbub, the UK-based environmental charity, launched the #whatsinmywash campaign – providing tips for consumers to reduce the impact of washing their garments and calling on a range of industry sectors to take action to tackle the microfibre problem.

New research supported by The Campaign for Wool released by Hubbub reveals that 44% of the public are completely unaware that microfibres are released into our waterways when we wash our clothes and often end up in our food, meaning that we are effectively eating our own clothes.

Synthetic clothing is on the rise and now accounts for around 60% of all clothing produced, however the survey of over 2,000 people across the UK showed 44% of people don’t realise that synthetic fibres such as polyester, acrylic or nylon are actually plastic. Whilst 71% are aware of plastic microbeads and their impact on the environment, only 56% know what microfibres are and these actually pose a much bigger problem.  Half a million tonnes of plastic microfibres a year contribute to ocean pollution– 16 times more than the plastic microbeads from cosmetics.

Peter Ackroyd, IWTO President and COO of the Campaign for Wool said, “The global retail industry is undergoing an unprecedented conversation about the impact of microplastics in the environment and in our daily lives. As our Patron HRH The Prince of Wales said recently, ‘I find it sobering to think that almost all the plastic ever produced is still here somewhere on the planet in one form or another and will remain here for centuries to come, possibly thousands of years.’" 

"A return to great quality, long lasting clothing made from natural fibres can help remedy this and we would urge the public to check clothes labels when shopping and look for fabrics that don’t add to this problem.”

The Campaign for Wool is working with Hubbub on the #whatsinmywash project to raise public awareness about the impact of chemical fibres on the marine environment. Few in the textile and fashion industries were aware that the machine washing of garments made of synthetic, mainly petrochemical fibres, released toxic microfibres into our river systems and ultimately into our already polluted oceans, a growing global ecological crisis graphically illustrated in recent television documentaries.

The International Wool Textile Organisation has published a series of peer reviewed fact sheets that illustrate the seriousness of the problem and the role wool can play in reducing the damaging environmental impact of too frequent laundering.

If consumers and indeed retailers worldwide, could be persuaded to invest in wool garments, the irreparable harm being done to the marine environment would be markedly reduced.

The campaign runs through Saturday 9th June. To pledge your support for more research and industry action on the issue, visit whatsinmywash.org.uk.

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