Synthetic Microfibers – Leaving a Trail of Plastic

You may have heard of the plastic soup floating in our oceans. However, have you ever heard of synthetic microfibers? They are basically very small plastic particles which shed from our synthetic clothing. Since microfibers are so small they seem relatively harmless. However, the large quantity of synthetic textiles used worldwide means microfibers have a major environmental impact.

Synthetic materials are used for all types of clothing and textile applications, especially in our outdoor gear due to its technical abilities.

The Issue

Microfibers are released during washing and regular wear & tear. The fibers which shed during washing end up in the sewage system. Sewage plants are unable to effectively filter these fibers out of the water. Which means they eventually end up in our rivers and oceans.

These plastic particles end up in our food chain. They are for example found in fish and our drinking water. The exact impact on human health is still being researched. However, it is safe to say that the microfibers are harmful for our environment.

Icon showing chemical microfibers ending up in our food chain (e.g. through fish)
Synthetic microfibers are a hidden environmental impact

What can we do?

There are some temporary things we can do to minimize the amount of fibers released into our waterways. One of these is using the Guppyfriend. The Guppyfriend is a washing bag which protects the textile and reduces the breaking of fibres by 86%, which means less shedding. Additionally, the bag retains 90% of the fibers released during washing. For all the ins and outs have a look at their FAQ section.

Guppyfriend washing bag in use to reduce shedding of synthetic microfibers
Guppyfriend washing bag in use

There are some companies trying to tackle these problems at the core. Like the Polartec Power Air which is a fabric that sheds up to 5x less microfibers than other mid-layer fabrics. Houdini and Adidas currently feature products from this material.

So, make sure to keep an eye out for other product or textile innovations and urge your favourite outdoor brand to address the issue of synthetic microfibers.         

2 thoughts on “Synthetic Microfibers – Leaving a Trail of Plastic”

    • Thanks for sharing this link, great to read that Polartec takes the environmental issues seriously and commits to 100% recycled and biodegradable materials! Do you also know when we can expect these fabrics to be commercially available?


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