What are microplastics and why are they such a big deal?

Let’s talk about microplastics. “Microplastics” is a buzzword thrown around a lot these days, but what’s the big deal? It’s just a small amount of plastic, right?

Well… it turns out a little plastic can have detrimental effects on our planet.

The Effects of Microplastics

According to the USGS, In the United States:

  • 12% of freshwater fish have been found with microplastic particles in them
  • 90 particles of microplastics per serving of commercially-cultured mussels (and 50 particles for oysters)
  • 112,000 particles per square mile of Great Lakes water


That’s pretty gross when we consider that we’re eating plastic, BUT the biggest harm is to wildlife.

Fish, birds, and other wildlife “can experience digestive obstruction, impaired reproduction, other adverse biological effects, and even death.” says the USGS. By obstructing digestive tracts, these animals stop experiencing hunger because they feel full and they starve to death.

Additionally, contaminants including pesticides, trace metals, and pathogens accumulate on plastic particles and have been found in high concentrations. So not only are the plastics themselves harmful, but they attract and carry with them other harmful substances, chemicals, and disease-causing organisms.

Where do microplastics come from and what can we do about it?

Microplastics come from a variety of sources -- essentially anything made of plastic can and will break down into microplastics. The most common source, though, are synthetic fibers.

Synthetic fibers account for 35% of the microplastics in our oceans making them the biggest contributor to microplastics. Microplastics are released from our clothes and directly into our waterways when we put them in the wash.

4 major fibers to look out for are: polyester, nylon, acrylic, and polyamide -- all made of plastic.

Don’t throw away all your synthetic clothing just yet.

Throwing away perfectly usable clothes just to buy new ones, even if they are made of natural fibers, is still wasteful. Your synthetic clothes already exist, so use them until they’re no longer wearable or donate it to someone who could use it.

BUT, you can still stop microfibers from leaching into our waterways in the wash. For the plastic clothing you do have, use a Guppyfriend Washing Bag which will catch the plastic microfibers in the wash so you can dispose of them properly.

When you do buy new clothing, opt for natural fibers like organic cotton, hemp, and linen.

And speaking of washing your clothes, we just launched our new concentrated laundry detergent and we’d love to know what you think.

Try our laundry detergent and stock up on other essentials while you're at it.
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