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Garments shrunk in the laundry quickly end up in the trash - is it time to change how we wash?  We've all had clothes that shrink in the wash. A little tight around the middle perhaps, or with legs and arms coming up rather shorter than they were prior to entering the washing machine. When it happens to a favourite pair of jeans or expensive new outfit, it's more than just an annoyance - and once shrunk, the chances of clothes being worn again reduce significantly. The number one reason cited by people for disposing of clothes is that they don’t fit anymore, or have been damaged in the wash. So we know that if we can prevent shrinkage and other damage caused by washing, we can extend the useful life of our clothes - saving money and, crucially, reducing the environmental impact of the clothes we wear. Why Do We Wash Clothes in a Machine? For centuries, we washed fabrics and clothes by hand - gently cleaning them by soaking, and then massaging the cloth to remove dirt. Automatic washing machines have been around for a hundred years or so, and a modern machine - with its multitude of wash programmes - has mechanised and automated this laborious process. They've made our lives easier, and are typically viewed as a necessity in most households in developed countries. Unfortunately, however, machine washing just isn’t as gentle to your clothes as washing by hand. The sheer power of the machine can stress and break clothing fibres in ways that your hands simply cannot, damaging your clothes and leading to shrinkage - and ultimately, early retirement.  To understand why clothes shrink in the wash, we first need to understand a little more about what happens to them when they're made. What, Actually, is Shrinkage – and Why Does it Happen? Throughout the process of making our clothes, particularly the spinning of fibres and the knitting and weaving of textiles, materials are constantly under tension. But when we wash them in a machine they are subjected to heat, moisture and harsh mechanical action - this damaging combination causes the tension in the fibres to be lost, allowing garments to shrink and change shape. There’s actually a technical term for it - consolidation shrinkage - and it's defined as a change in the dimensions of fabrics and garments, including length, width and thickness. It can be affected by lots of things, including the type of fibres, how they've been woven or knitted into the final garment, and the harshness of the washing process. From one wash to the next, the signs of shrinkage can be subtle. But over ten washes, the difference can be enormous - changing your clothes dramatically, with waistbands no longer fitting, or trouser hems hanging some distance above your ankles. Other potential issues caused by machine washing include: Clothes sagging or changing shape ('shrinkage' can, somewhat surprisingly, also mean that clothes get bigger! Any change of shape that happens during washing is loosely defined as shrinkage) Damage to transfers, embellishments and other details Colours fading or running Pilling (sometimes known as bobbling) Shedding of fibres and microfibres Our Clothes are Harming The Environment. Collectively, we spend trillions of dollars on clothes every year - making the fashion industry one of the largest in the world. But it is also one of the most environmentally damaging - consuming vast amounts of resources and generating huge volumes of waste. Estimates suggest that more than 100 billion garments are made each year, and it’s thought that 85% of textiles are dumped into landfill yearly, instead of being recycled or reused. Fast Fashion - the culture of changing the style of clothing ever more frequently - has contributed to the growth of these numbers. Consumers are buying fashionable, inexpensive clothes and wearing them just a few times before disposal. Some surveys have even suggested that a significant number of people now see fashion as ‘throwaway’ – with millions of garments dumped after being worn just once. Wash Better. So, if we better care for our clothes, preventing shrinking and other damage that can hasten their journey to the trash, it’s likely we will wear them longer - reducing unnecessary waste. New technologies can help by significantly reducing damage caused by washing. We also need to rethink our relationship with fashion, and learn to love our clothes for longer. There are some practical steps you can take right now to reduce laundry damage and prolong the life of your clothes: Wash less often if you can. Most of us wash our clothes more than is necessary. Jeans, for example, rarely need to be washed more than once or twice a month Wash shorter. Long cycles can exacerbate damage. Short, daily wash programmes are usually sufficient to freshen up your clothes – they're better for the environment and will save you money  Wash colder. Most wash cycles are run at 40°C, but 30°C is actually hot enough to get all but the most heavily soiled items clean - and 20°C is even better! Use less water. Quick daily wash cycles typically use less water than other programmes. As a bonus, fewer microfibres - a major source of pollution in the environment - will be washed down the drain. Extending the life of a garment by just 9 months can reduce its environmental footprint by 20%-30%. This has significant benefits for the environment, saving vast amounts of water, carbon emissions and waste. In the long run, it will save you money too. [Sustainability, Blog, Garment Care, consumer]

Clothes That Shrink in the Wash are Bad for the Environment

Garments shrunk in the laundry quickly end up in the trash - is it time to change how we wash? ...
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The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals lie at the heart of everything we do. This is why. Over the course of recent history, the lives of billions of people have become immeasurably better. The living standards that many of us enjoy today are those our grandparents could only dream of. But in raising these standards we have put unsustainable pressure on our natural and human resources. Many of us now understand that we urgently need to find solutions to reduce this pressure so that everyone, both now and in the future, can live sustainably in a fair, safe and healthy world. Change Together, we must be unrelenting in our efforts to halt and reverse climate change, to stabilise erratic weather patterns and return the temperature of our planet to what it needs to be. We need to use less water and stop polluting it so there is enough to go round an increasing global population. We need Earth Overshoot Day, the point each year when we exceed the sustainable use of Earth’s resources, to happen later and later every year. Achieving these things will be a giant step towards mending the damage that has, to a large degree, been unwittingly created. Fairness The impact of behaving unsustainably is felt most often by people in the poorest parts of the world, where those already without increasingly have less. People living in countries growing cotton used to clothe the world are badly affected by persistent water shortages which are made worse by climate change. Many people do not realise that the clothes we wear have significant impacts on those who make them and our global environment. Our fashion purchases support a trillion-dollar industry but one which is the second largest consumer of water on the plant and one of its largest polluters. Thankfully, both individually and collectively, we can work to protect and nurture natural and human resources and create a better world. To some degree this can be achieved through the choices we make as individuals. But success, at scale, will mean making positive choices through system change. System change achieved by the adoption and achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. 17 Goals The UN Sustainable Development Goals are the roadmap towards a better, fairer future for everyone. They are a guide for governments, enterprises and all of us to live sustainably in the world we share. At Xeros, we believe that each and every one of the SDGs is unquestionable and have decided that the development goals should guide what we do and how we act. The technologies we and others develop directly benefit the achievement of a number of the goals, such as protecting life under water (Goal 14) and the provision of clean, safe water (Goal 6). If you would like to find out more about the Sustainable Development Goals and how we are working to support them click here. Mark Nichols, CEO, Xeros Technology Group [Sustainability, Blog, consumer]

Mark Nichols: Supporting Sustainable Development

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals lie at the heart of everything we do. This is why....
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Microfibres from natural sources, like the cotton used to make jeans, could be just as damaging Over the last few years many of us have become familiar with the word ‘microfibres’ – tiny pieces of the fabric used to make our clothes, which break off when we wash and wear them. In most cases, when we talk about microfibres we think of clothes made from synthetic fabrics like polyester or nylon, which are made from the same oil-based compounds used to make many other plastic items, like straws or carrier bags. When microfibres break off from these clothes they form a type of microplastic and are a major source of pollution, affecting the deepest parts of the ocean and the farthest reaches of the Arctic. But now scientists are beginning to ask a troubling question – could ‘natural’ microfibres, like cotton, also be a problem? Denim It’s estimated that on any given day half the world’s population could be wearing jeans. But our love affair with this wardrobe staple is having an impact on the environment. An important study by the University of Toronto has found evidence of indigo-dyed microfibres, from jeans in deep Arctic waters, sediment samples and the Great Lakes Huron and Ontario. In fact, the study found that fibres from denim jeans were so widespread that they made up between 10%-23% of ALL the microfibres found during the research. Other findings show: 1 pair of used jeans can shed 56,000 microfibres per wash More than 13 million denim microfibres could be released from laundry in just 1 Canadian household every year Breaking Down Until now, scientists studying microfibre pollution have tended to focus on synthetic fibres which present a potentially serious threat to marine environments and wildlife. Around 500,000 tonnes are released into the ocean every year from washing clothes and, once in the ocean, they last for a very long time. To date, researchers have been less concerned by the scale and impact of ‘natural’ microfibres on the assumption that, as an organic substance, they will rapidly degrade in ocean environments. But Toronto’s study suggests that may not the case. It shows that ‘natural’ microfibres can last a long time in the environment, certainly long enough to be transported great distances on Arctic ocean currents. And other research has suggested that there may actually be more ‘natural’ microfibres in the ocean than synthetic. If that is true then many of the natural microfibres shed from clothes made decades ago, before the rapid growth in the use of synthetics, could still be floating around in the oceans today. Not that ‘natural’ One of the reasons suggested by the Toronto researchers that ‘natural’ fibres do not break down in the environment, is the addition of chemicals during the manufacturing process. These include things like flame retardants or, in the case of Toronto’s study of jeans, the addition of indigo dyes. It could be these types of chemical processes that are responsible for slowing down the degradation of natural fibres in the environment. In fact, Toronto argues that these processes modify natural fibres to such an extent that they do not refer to denim microfibres as ‘natural’ at all. Instead, Toronto prefers to call them ‘AC’ microfibres or ‘Anthropologically Modified Cellulose’. All naturally sourced fibres go through a series of chemical processes whilst being turned into fabrics and garments and, just like denim, they will shed microfibres when they are washed. Should We Stop Buying Synthetic? If natural fibres like cotton shed as many (or more) microfibres than synthetics fibres like polyester, and they last a long time in the environment, should we stop buying synthetic clothes and only buy natural instead? This is an argument often put forward by some campaigners who believe that naturally sourced fibres are a more sustainable choice. But based on the latest microfibre research the short answer must be, no. There are other important environmental considerations too. Cotton, for example, takes huge amounts of water to produce, mainly due to it being such a thirsty crop to grow. Analysis by Levi, more than a decade ago, showed that a single pair of jeans consumed 3,781 litres of water across its entire lifecycle, with almost 70% of that used in just growing cotton. That’s more water than an average person will drink in more than three years – for just one pair of jeans. Further Study is Required Further research will be needed to understand just how long these ‘natural’ microfibres last in the environment, the impact they have and, crucially, what damage they can cause to delicate ecosystems, wildlife and us. But Toronto’s study of denim microfibres shows that we can no longer talk only about microplastics when we talk about microfibre pollution. Naturally sourced fibres in our clothes could present as big a problem to our rivers, oceans, wildlife and us. You can read more about the research into denim and microfibres in our Q&A with Samantha Athey, Microfibre Scientist. Or read more about the practical steps you can take to minimise microfibre pollution from your laundry. [Sustainability, Apparel, Blog, consumer]

Microfibres: The Problem is Bigger than Plastic

Microfibres from natural sources, like the cotton used to make jeans, could be just as damaging...
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Washing clothes, particularly those containing synthetic fibres, is a major source of environmental pollution. We take a look at the issue and suggest some simple steps you can take to reduce it... There is a certain irony in the fact that washing our clothes causes pollution. But every time we do the laundry, hundreds of thousands of tiny fibres - known as microfibres - are washed off our clothes, down the drain and into the environment. As many as 700,000 microfibres can be released from a single load of laundry. In the UK alone it’s estimated that at least 9 trillion microfibres are released into the waste water system every week. A significant number of these pass through water treatment facilities and flow freely into rivers and oceans - where they become marine pollution that can be ingested by all kinds of creatures, and enter our food chain and water supplies. Microfibres and Microplastics All our clothes shed fibres when they are washed, regardless of the material they are made from. This will come as no surprise to anyone who owns a tumble dryer. The ‘fluff’ that gets caught in the dryer filter is the same material – clothing fibres – that break off in the wash. A significant proportion of these are microplastics - shed from garments which are made from synthetic materials like nylon and polyester. Good examples of clothing manufactured from man-made fibres include high performance sports and outdoor garments, as well as any item with 'stretch'.  These synthetic microfibres are sometimes referred to as microplastic fibres (or microplastic fibers in the US!) and collectively they are the single biggest source of primary microplastics entering our oceans every year. Globally, it amounts to about 500,000 tonnes per annum - this is equivalent to every single person on the planet throwing 15 plastic shopping bags directly into the sea, every year. A Growing Problem In many households around the world, washing machines have become essential items. There are something like 800 million in use around the world today and an average household will use their machine about four times a week. That’s a lot of laundry releasing a lot of microfibres and, as the global population increases, more washing machines in more households will mean more microfibres are released into the environment every day - until something is done to stop it. Stopping the Flow A permanent solution will require action at many levels and include: Producing clothes and textiles that don’t shed as many microfibres Buying fewer clothes and washing them less often Developing better wastewater management systems Another obvious place for attention is our washing machines. A very significant proportion of the microfibres released during laundry cycles could be prevented from entering the environment by simply re-engineering washing machines to include filtration technology to prevent microfibre release. But today, there are no washing machines on sale that have this technology. We believe there should be. So do others. France recently passed laws that require microplastic filters in all new washing machines by 2025. But until filtration technology is standard in all new washing machines, we will continue to pollute the environment every time we do the laundry. Fortunately, there are some simple, practical steps you can take to mitigate the issue until you are able to purchase a new machine incorporating effective filtration technology... Keep Clothes for Longer New clothes are great. The first time we wear them they look and feel amazing. Sadly, that look and feel can quickly fade as a result of washing. But while they may look great, new clothes also release significantly more microfibres than older garments when they are washed. At Xeros, our own data shows that a new garment may shed as many as 8 times more microfibres than the same garment after 5 washes. After that, microfibre release stabilises at a much lower level. So, buying fewer new clothes and keeping the ones we have for longer can significantly reduce microfibre release during washing. Wash Less Often There is lot of debate around how often you need to wash different garments for hygiene purposes, and how often you should wash them to get them clean. The CEO of the denim company Levi made headlines recently by saying he rarely washes his jeans and denim aficionados actually argue you should never wash them. The chances are we all wash garments far more frequently that we need to. And if each wash produces 700,000 microfibres, it stands to reason that fewer wash cycles will reduce the number of microfibres released to the environment. Turn off the Tap! One major factor affecting microfibre release is water. The more water that is used during a wash cycle, the more microfibres are released. Studies have shown that by reducing the volume of water used during washing cycles, the number of microfibres released from garments can be reduced significantly. This simple step can reduce microfibre release by as much as 30%. But be aware that some wash cycles which may sound like they could help – like delicate cycles – can actually make matters worse. That’s because they use more water and, as a result, more microfibres are shed. Line dry or Tumble dry If you can, you should probably line dry clothes rather than tumble dry them. Our data shows that while the lint filter in a tumble dryer can capture shed fibres, the process of tumbling could lead to a higher rate of shedding as the strength of the fibres may be reduced. Although, from an environmental perspective, by far the biggest advantage of line drying is saving energy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Stop buying Synthetics? One suggestion that many support is to stop buying synthetic garments and only buy clothes made using natural fibres. But ALL fibres shed microfibres, regardless of whether they are cotton or nylon. For a long time researchers felt that natural microfibres didn’t matter because they would degrade in the environment - something synthetics don’t do. But researchers are now questioning whether this is true... Scientists are finding that natural fibres can persist in the environment for a very long time, due to chemical treatments applied during manufacture. Many of the chemicals they are treated with can also be toxic to wildlife. Additionally, ALL microfibres can attract harmful pollutants which are already present in the environment. On that basis, it makes no sense to favour natural over synthetic garments – plus, the land, water and fertiliser used to grow cotton means it is far from a sustainable choice. Lobby for Washing Machine Filters Effective in-machine filtration can make a significant difference to the sustainability of our laundry. To date, only one manufacturer has committed to installing filtration in new washing machines, but these machines are not yet available to buy. Environmental charities are lobbying for laws to be changed so ALL new domestic washing machines have filtration technology. In the UK, the Marine Conservation Society is campaigning for legislation to mandate filtration in washing machines. Supporting their campaign and spreading the word would be a great thing to do. If you’re in the process of choosing or buying a new washing machine, ask the retailer why none of the models they sell have filters fitted as standard (despite all of the models they stock having seemingly glowing environmental ratings) or even better, ask the manufacturer directly. While you're at it, why not contact your MP to ask what they are doing about this issue? Solutions built into the machine are best Recent studies by the University of Plymouth tested the effectiveness of various devices at preventing microfibre release from laundry. The results showed that the best washing machine filter, XFiltra (an in-machine filter designed to be installed by manufacturers in new washing machines), can catch almost 80% of all microfibres, Today, several companies sell filters that you can buy to plumb into your current washing machine waste pipes - assuming you have the space outside the machine to mount the equipment and the technical know-how to install it (or a good plumber on call), as well as the ability to afford them.  However, Plymouth’s peer-reviewed scientific study showed that these devices, which are not integral to the machine, caught as little as a quarter of the microfibres. The same study also looked at how effective laundry bags and balls could be in preventing microfibre release. The best example prevented just over half of microfibre release and the worst little more than 20%. But even when these products have done their job, how do you collect and dispose of the microfibres they catch? The chances are, many people will simply run them under a tap – entirely defeating the object and flushing the microfibers straight down the drain. They can also reduce machine capacity and wash performance, leaving your clothes not washed to the same standard as you normally expect, and they are only designed for use with synthetic garments. Keep it Simple Buying products like external filters and laundry bags help consumers take small, positive steps towards limiting the microfibre pollution released from their laundry. Yet in actual fact, simple steps like washing less often and using low-water cycles will probably have a far greater impact. Other ideas, like getting clothes manufacturers to perform pre-sale, filtered washing of new garments to remove the initial high level of microfibre loss, could dramatically reduce the overall release of microfibres from household laundry. Garment manufacturers already perform washing cycles before finished clothes are sold to consumers, so simply need to introduce filtration technology into their equipment. But the quickest, and cheapest step to minimise microfibre pollution from household laundry will be for all washing machines to be fitted with filtration technology as standard. France has taken a first step to making this happen with sweeping environmental legislation. If washing machine manufacturers don’t now take a lead on this, it’s likely other Governments will soon follow France’s example and force the issue. A recent statement from the UK’s environment secretary sums it up: ...manufacturers should harness the latest technology to protect our marine environment and we are keeping the compulsory fitting of microplastic filters under close review. As consumer awareness of microfibre pollution grows, support for filtration increases. A recent UK study by the Marine Conservation Society found most people (81%) support legislation to make microfibre filters mandatory in washing machines. But until the fitting of filters become widespread in the industry it is important that we all try to do what we can to minimise microfibre pollution in the ocean. Our laundry tips can help make a difference. (and of course, if you are a washing machine manufacturer or major retailer that we're not yet in talks with, please do get in touch to learn more about the benefits of our filtration technology!) [Sustainability, Filtration, Blog, consumer]

How to stop the microplastics in your clothes polluting the ocean

Washing clothes, particularly those containing synthetic fibres, is a major source of environmental...
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The in-machine filtration device from Xeros captures more microfibres than any other device XFiltra, the innovative washing machine filtration technology from Xeros - designed to prevent the release of microplastics from laundry - has been independently verified by scientists at the University of Plymouth as the leading device for reducing the number of microfibres released from washing machines. XFiltra, was tested by Dr Imogen Napper at the University’s International Marine Litter Research Unit, alongside products from other companies to measure their relative effectiveness at capturing microfibres, released from clothes during wash cycles, and preventing their subsequent release in wastewater.   The results show that XFiltra performed significantly better than all other products evaluated. The tests, which were designed to capture microfibres in a mixed wash of synthetic and synthetic/cotton blend garments, show that XFiltra captured 78% of microfibres released during each wash cycle. Similar independent tests conducted by Xeros on purely synthetic garments, show that XFiltra captures over 90% of the microplastic fibres released from them. The University of Plymouth report and test data have been peer reviewed and are published today in the journal Science of The Total Environment. Around 500,000 tonnes of microplastics flow into the world’s oceans every year from washing clothes and textiles containing synthetic fibres, accounting for 35% of all primary microplastics entering the ocean. Mark Nichols, CEO Xeros commented: The pollution of our rivers and oceans with discarded plastic waste is happening at an alarming rate. It’s harming wildlife and our precious and finely balanced ecosystems, with microplastics from washing our clothes being a significant source of contamination. XFiltra was developed with the objective of eliminating this form of pollution and with the belief that every household and commercial washing machine needs to be fitted with low cost, easy to use filtration. We’re delighted that the efficiency of our filtration technology has now been confirmed by independent researchers as a world leading solution which provides every washing machine manufacturer with the ability to make a major contribution to the sustainability of garment lifecycles and our planet. MARK NICHOLS, XEROS CEO   [Sustainability, News, Xeros Technologies, Video, consumer]

XFiltra™ Rated Best Microfibre Filter For Laundry

The in-machine filtration device from Xeros captures more microfibres than any other device...
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Over 5 years Xeros has saved 887,275,729 litres of water To mark World Water Day 2019, we have calculated how much water our XOrb™ technology has saved our commercial laundry customers. During the last five years, our near-waterless washing machines, which reduce water use by up to 80 per cent and are certified an Environmentally Preferable Product, have saved just over 887.2 MILLION litres of water – enough to keep the taps running for a year in 5,377 UK households or to power 148 million toilet flushes. A rapidly growing, increasingly urbanised population is causing extreme water-stress in many parts of the world. Globally, more than 844 million people do not have access to clean water and by 2050 one in four people will be affected by recurring water shortages. Even the UK could face water shortages within 25 years. So, it is more important than ever that we work to divert water away from industry and processes to where it is needed most, people. We are committed to creating a more sustainable planet and to protect and conserve one of our most precious resources – water. Read more about our core purpose and how we’re helping our commercial laundry customers save water.   [Sustainability, Cleaning, Xeros Technologies, Blog, consumer]

Xeros saves over 850 million litres of water

Over 5 years Xeros has saved 887,275,729 litres of water To mark World Water Day 2019, we have...
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Xeros Technology Group plc is calling on UK politicians to consider measures to lessen the environmental impact of the fashion industry. Xeros Technology Group plc is calling on UK politicians to consider implementing measures to lessen the environmental impact of the fashion industry. In a written submission to the UK Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee inquiry into the sustainability of the fashion industry, which is examining the resource use and water footprint of clothing and how levels of pollution can be reduced, Xeros is calling on MPs to consider how the company’s innovative technology could be used to support measures across the industry to lessen pollution and water consumption. Xeros is asking politicians to consider whether filters should be fitted to all new domestic washing machines, sold in the UK, to stem the flow of plastic microfibre pollution into the world’s rivers and oceans. The company also asks whether the environmental labelling used by manufacturers and retailers could be amended to include information about filtration and microfibre pollution to help consumers make better choices. Xeros has also presented MPs with evidence about how its technology can be used to significantly reduce the amount of water (energy and chemicals) used by textile manufacturers during garment production, and asked MPs to consider whether garment labelling could be amended to include information about water consumption, empowering consumers to make more informed choices. Xeros Technology Group’s written submission can be found here Full details and background to the UK Parliament Inquiry into the sustainability of the fashion industry can be found here [Sustainability, Xeros Technologies, Blog, consumer]

Xeros calls for action to lessen the environmental impact of clothing and laundry

Xeros Technology Group plc is calling on UK politicians to consider measures to lessen the...
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There is wide-spread public support to tackle the issue of plastic microfiber pollution in the world’s rivers and oceans, by fitting domestic washing machines with microfiber filters There is wide-spread public support to tackle the issue of plastic microfiber pollution in the world’s rivers and oceans, by fitting domestic washing machines with microfiber filters, according to a study commissioned by Xeros Technology Group, which specialises in making water-intensive industries more sustainable. Washing clothes containing synthetic fibres such as acrylic or polyester is now the single biggest source of microplastic pollution entering our oceans every year. Every time we wash clothes containing synthetic fibres, as many as 700,000 microscopic pieces, known as microfibers, come off and are released into the environment. Recent campaigns about microfiber pollution have focused on the fashion and textile industries, challenging them to address the issue by changing their sourcing and production processes. But a new study of more than 1,100 people in the UK by the global intelligence platform Streetbees, which was commissioned by Xeros, suggests that many people would prefer a different approach. When people were asked to say which potential solutions to microfiber pollution they would support, more people opted for fitting microfiber filters to new washing machines (82 per cent) than limiting the use of microfibers in clothing or avoiding buying clothes containing them. The survey also indicates that the majority want to see strong political direction on the issue, with 61 per cent of respondents ‘strongly agreeing’ and 29 per cent ‘slightly agreeing’ that governments should legislate to make microfiber filters mandatory in all new washing machines. Mark Nichols, Chief Executive Officer of Xeros Technology Group said: “Microfibers that come off our clothes are doing as much damage to the marine environment as plastic bags and discarded fishing gear. And every time we do a load of washing at home we are all unwittingly adding to microfiber pollution in the oceans. “Around the world, innovative companies are looking at possible solutions to microfiber pollution. Last year we made a commitment as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals to develop a microfiber filtration system for domestic washing machines. Having done so and seen what is achievable, I believe that fitting filtration to all new washing machines would go a long way to addressing this urgent issue.” The survey by Streetbees also highlights how just how concerned people have become about plastic pollution, with more people identifying it as a serious and urgent environmental issue (92 per cent) ahead of other issues such as global warming, deforestation and over fishing. However, the study also suggests a need for more public education on how microfibers are contributing to the problem because more than half of respondents (58 per cent) did not know that washing clothes containing synthetic fibres resulted in plastic microfibers being released into the environment. And only a third of respondents (31 per cent) identified microfibers as a major source of plastic pollution in the oceans, far fewer than those identifying rubbish such as plastic bottles, straws and discarded fishing gear. The survey also found low levels of knowledge of the impact microfibers are having on humans with: 53 per cent not knowing that microfibers are entering the food chain after being ingested by plankton, and 57 per cent not aware of studies showing microfibers present in drinking water Mark Nichols continues: “With so many people concerned about the impact of microfiber pollution, and our survey indicating overwhelming public support for fitting microfiber filters to new washing machines as a potential solution, it’s imperative for politicians and industry to act now to help consumers make positive choices to tackle this unseen plastic pollution.” An infographic providing more information on XFiltra™ can be found here A video about microfibers pollution and washing machine filtration can be found here [1] https://portals.iucn.org/library/sites/library/files/documents/2017-002.pdf [2] https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/news/washing-clothes-releases-thousands-of-microplastic-particles-into-environment-study-shows [News, Xeros Technologies, Blog, consumer]

Study Finds Public Support for Microfiber Filters in Washing Machines

There is wide-spread public support to tackle the issue of plastic microfiber pollution in the...
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Anyone who is yet to wake up to the issue of plastic polluting our rivers and seas must have their head in the sand. Programmes such as Blue Planet and Drowning in Plastic have done a brilliant job of showing us the terrible damage being wrought on the environment by discarded plastic. Heartrending images of whales, seals, and dolphins caught in discarded fishing gear, or sea birds dying after eating plastic bottle tops and cigarette lighters, are enough to make us all want to do something to stop it. And this is just the plastic we can see. Every year, millions of tonnes of plastic flows freely into the world’s marine environments unseen. Many of us are familiar with microplastics and the damage they can cause. But the biggest source of microplastic pollution is our clothes: tiny pieces of synthetic fibres called microfibers. Article first published in City A.M 11.10.18 http://www.cityam.com/265309/laundry-biggest-source-microplastic-pollution-heres-we Clothing companies like Patagonia and researchers at the University of Plymouth have shown how – every time we wash clothes containing synthetic fibres such as nylon, polyester and acrylic – microscopic fibres break off and are released into the environment. This amounts to hundreds of thousands of fibres from each wash. Simply by doing our laundry, we are all, unwittingly, adding to the issue of plastic pollution. But just because we can’t see microfibers, doesn’t mean we can ignore them. Scientists have shown microfibers are already entering the food chain, ingested by plankton, and then eaten by fish and shellfish before finding their way to supermarket shelves. Recent campaigns about microfiber pollution have tended to focus attention on the fashion industry, urging manufacturers to switch to more sustainable textiles. This is part of the solution. But this issue is too serious for just one industry to solve. We must work together to find the most effective long-term solutions. Perhaps one of the easiest and most effective answers could be finding a way to stop microfibers getting from our washing machines into the sea. But most water treatment plants are not equipped to filter out such small fibres, and technology enabling them to do would be prohibitively expensive. Innovative companies are looking at how you can contain microfibers in your washing machine by putting all your clothes in a bag before they go in the wash. Others have designed items that go in the machine with the clothes to try and catch the microfibers as they come off. engineers at Xeros have developed a device that filters all the dirty water from the machine before it does down the drain, capturing more than 99 per cent of microfibers from your wash. Whatever the solution is to microfiber pollution, it needs to be as simple and cost-effective as possible for consumers. I believe that fitting filtration to all new washing machines will help immensely. Meanwhile, politicians must also address the environmental labelling of all new white-goods to make it fit-for-purpose. Consumers also need to be empowered to make informed choices about the full environmental impact of the goods that they buy. This government has shown its willingness to tackle plastic pollution. I applaud it for tackling issues, such single-use plastics and banning microbeads in cosmetics. But it urgently needs to address microfiber pollution from laundry, and help us all find a simple and effective solution to this critical issue. Cleaning up the world we share, and protecting it for future generations, is everyone’s responsibility. Article first published in City A.M 11.10.18 http://www.cityam.com/265309/laundry-biggest-source-microplastic-pollution-heres-we [News, Blog, consumer]

Laundry is the biggest source of microplastic pollution – here's how we tackle the issue

Anyone who is yet to wake up to the issue of plastic polluting our rivers and seas must have their...
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