Still the Best Fabric for Making Activewear
Before we discuss microplastics, let’s what is recycled polyester good for. Polyester fabrics (both virgin and recycled) are still the fabrics with the best moisture-wicking properties. We know that from our own private label experience as well as from knowing the science behind the claim. The fibre structure and chemical properties of polyester yarn allow for a fast transition of sweat from a liquid into vapour. All that without dampening the clothes along the way. That’s why you’ll find them in the vast majority of sportswear. When a brand uses recycled polyester, they do make an ecological contribution. One recycled polyester t-shirt will remove 8 water bottles from the sea or a water stream or a landfill.
So Where’s the Problem?
Even though it reuses the plastic, that same t-shirt will shed after each wash. And that results in microplastics ending up in the drainage systems and later on in rivers and seas. Microplastics are becoming a greater concern the more we learn about them. The jury is still out on whether or not microplastics actually cause harm to our health, as there isn’t enough data to have a claim in either direction. But it is worrying enough that plastic has become a part of our diet, whether we like it or not. So until governments start banning plastics altogether or until washing machine companies start investing in filters that will keep the microplastics out of our water streams, we can only rely on what we as individuals can do.
Here are the 6 things you can do to reduce your microplastics contributions:
- Use a microplastics filter like the one sold by PlanetCare. It filters out all the water exiting the washing machine before it’s released into nature free from microfibers.
- Opt for cooler washing cycles (ideally 30 °C) and if you’re concerned about the odour not going away at 30 °C, there’s a workaround. Put your polyester clothes and some activated charcoal in a plastic container and leave overnight. The activated charcoal will collect a lot of that odour.
- Don’t use a drier. There are 2 perfect natural driers – air and sunshine, use them.
- If you want to, you can add a cup of vinegar in the rinse cycle. It will strengthen the fibres and reduce shedding. It may eat through seals and rubber hoses of your washer, so take this one with a pinch of salt.
- Get your hands on fibre collectors. Some companies like Guppyfriend and Cora Ball started addressing the issue at its source – the washing machine.
- Spray your polyester pieces with spray starch. Stiffer fibers = less shedding.
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