How often do you do your laundry? Americans launder clothes way too often. And we use too much detergent, according to the Wall Street Journal
. We’ve started re-thinking our laundry scene here at home. We’re also becoming more water-conscious. Levi-Strauss Co. gets it: In an article in the New York Times
, Levi-Strauss admits to the amount of water they’ve used in the past to stonewash their jeans. And now they’re sewing tags in clothes to tell consumers to not wash their jeans so often (by the end of their life, your jeans will have consumed 919 gallons of water.) Levi’s CEO walks the walk, because he rarely washes his jeans.
But for us, the issue has become more about plastic. Yes, plastic is in your laundry
and one of our favorite scientists today, Mark Browne, has determined that on average a single garment will shed 1900 fibers of microplastic per wash into your gray water. The problem is woven in our favorite polypropylene pants or tights, or poly-wool blend sweaters. If it’s made of plastic, it’s shedding plastic, and those microfibers are showing up on every shoreline on our planet. This is a very real concern to marine biologists and toxicologists who are finding that microfibers are ingested by many marine species and are likely making their way into our own food stream.
So take a close look at your dryer lint. It’s those fibers that are making their way out of your washing machine and into our waters. If you’re a died-in-the-wool purist about your clothes and only wear organic cottons and fibers, you’re doing wonders for the planet. The Fibershed Project
is a fine example of lessons learned when you truly look at clothes, how they’re manufactured, where they come from, and the amount of energy, water, and toxins used to make them. The Fibershed folks promote looking at which fibers can be sourced in your own bioregion.
So, one thing you CAN do to reduce the amount of water you use and the microplastics your laundry is shedding, consider doing less laundry in general. The next time you see us or members of our family, you’ll know we’re stretching our standards a little, wearing those clothes just a little longer before contributing further to a growing problem in our oceans.