Is microfiber bad for the environment? Here is all the information you need to be aware of regarding microfibers and the environment.
Synthetic microfiber is used in everything from clothing to furniture to cleaning cloths. It is well-liked for its capacity to remove dirt from surfaces more easily than other fabrics while also doing so without leaving any scratches.
While microfiber material is versatile and durable, microfibers are essentially teeny-tiny pieces of plastic. And every time you wash microfiber products, microplastics make their way into the environment.
Although avoiding microfibers and microplastics might be challenging, it is not impossible. Here is all the information you need to know about microfibers, along with suggestions for alternatives.
Is Microfiber Bad for the Environment?
Petrochemicals, which are chemicals derived from petroleum, are used to create all microfibers. As a result, they cannot be renewed and cannot decompose.
Fabrics made of microfibers disintegrate into millions of tiny microplastic particles, not into natural components.
Despite the fact that tap water and shellfish have been found to contain significant amounts of microfibers, it is still unclear what eating microfibers will do to the body.
Although we are aware that they can harm gastrointestinal tracts and pass from prey to predator through generations, more research is required to determine the full extent of the harm to both humans and wildlife.
The microfibers in microfiber make recycling the material impossible. Although microfiber material could be recycled, it will ultimately be discarded and dumped in a landfill. Microplastics will contaminate the rest of the recyclables if microfiber fabric is sent to recycling, creating even more waste!
The ability of microfiber cloths to remove bacteria and viruses from surfaces is one of their greatest advantages. They are superior to single-use disinfecting wipes and less wasteful because they can be reused. However, microfibers will disperse into the water after each wash.
The Environmental Impact of Microfibers
Microplastics are extremely small. They typically measure no more than 5 millimeters in diameter, or 0.2 inches, according to National Geographic. Therefore, even though your microfiber towels or sheets may be much larger than this measurement, the fibers inside are extremely small. They have a huge impact despite their small size.
Plastic may never completely deteriorate. Instead, it gradually disintegrates into smaller and smaller particles, polluting the air and our oceans in the process. And because microplastics are too small to decompose, they stay the same size and continue to pollute waterways.
In actuality, up to 35% of the plastic that pollutes our oceans comes from synthetic clothing particles. On the ocean floor right now, there are about 14 million tons of microplastics.
Ocean plastic pollution has a wide range of negative effects on the environment. The first effect of pollution on marine life is the transmission of diseases that endanger marine life. Consider how quickly coral reefs are vanishing: in just the past 30 to 35 years, we have lost half of all of our coral reefs. Additionally, other marine animals suffer when coral reefs are destroyed.
Moreover, microplastic pollution affects more than just coral reefs and other organisms. Ingesting these microplastics could harm our beloved but critically endangered blue whales. Currently, it is known that over 240 different wildlife species have consumed plastic pollution.
However, the decomposition process that takes place at the end of a product’s life is not the only issue with microfiber. During the entire life of the item, the issue persists. One load of laundry can release 9 million microfibers on average, which are then sent directly to wastewater treatment facilities that cannot filter these tiny plastics.
In other words, simply owning and using microfiber products has a negative environmental impact. Making some sustainable substitutions can still be done, though.
Is Microfiber Fabric Toxic?
Petrochemicals, which are derived from fossil fuels and used exclusively in synthetic production, are used to make microfiber fabrics. They never degrade into natural products as a result, and they also bind to other chemicals.
We don’t know how hazardous it is for people to breathe in or consume microfibers through the air or water. According to some studies, because of the chemicals that bind to microplastics, organisms may experience problems with reproduction, weakened immunity, lung inflammation, and reduced appetite. These include substances that cause cancer.
In addition to being flammable, microfiber textiles also release toxic gases when burned, particularly when PET is present.
The most prevalent polyester-based thermoplastic resin, PET, is also a concern for microplastics due to its widespread use in recyclable plastic bottles.
Roundworms have been shown to exhibit behavioral inhibitions as a result of multigenerational toxicity brought on by PET microfibers. Even worse, PET can absorb other pollutants, many of which are toxic or can cause cancer.
How to Reduce Microfiber Pollution?
Microplastic pollution is the main issue with microfiber. This occurs because all microfiber products have the potential to shed tiny microfibers during washing, which could then find their way to the ocean. While this is true, there are a few significant points to consider.
- Your synthetic clothing, cosmetics, and the decomposition of larger plastic items are the main sources of microplastic pollution.
- Concerns about microplastics and their effects on human health are fraught with scientific uncertainty.
- In general, 95 to 99 percent of microfibers are removed by wastewater treatment facilities.
However, there are a number of straightforward steps you can take to wash microfiber to minimize shedding. Manufacturers of microfiber clothing Patagonia and REI provide some excellent suggestions for lowering the amount of microplastics generated during washing.
- Use High-Quality Microfiber Products
- Invest in a Front-load Washer, which shed approximately 7 times fewer microfibers
- Wash on a delicate setting and with colder water when necessary
- Install a lint filter or products that collect microfiber shedding in the laundry
Final Words: Microfiber Pollution
Polyester, which is primarily made up of terephthalic acid, a dihydric alcohol, and an ester, is the main component of microfiber. Due to its inorganic nature, microfiber cannot degrade.
Don’t throw away all of your microfiber possessions—that won’t help reduce microfiber pollution! If you already own microfiber fabrics, you can use them until they need to be replaced sustainably.
Are Microfiber Towels Bad for the Environment?
Microfibers can’t be removed by waste treatment facilities due to their small size, so they end up in our waterways and oceans, where they harm the environment and marine life.
Is Microfiber Cloth Eco-friendly?
Microfibers can harm the small aquatic organisms that ingest them. Additionally, toxic chemicals that are purposefully added to textiles during production or that collect on ocean-bound plastic debris may be present in microfibers.
What is the Eco Alternative to Microfiber?
Paper is an additional option to microfiber and cotton. Paper is a natural product that decomposes even more quickly than cotton, which is good! The issue with manufacturing paper towels is that it contributes to deforestation and high-water use.