We’ve all seen the horrendous pictures, documentaries and youtube clips of plastic floating in the ocean. In one of the most salient examples during the David Attenborough documentary ‘Blue Planet II’ in which a young sperm whale tried to eat a plastic bucket, searing the problem of plastic pollution into the brains of a generation.
But what about the plastic waste accumulating in our oceans that we can’t see?
35% of marine plastic pollution comes from microfibres; synthetic fibres which were originally part of clothing. These tiny fibres are shed in the wash and flushed straight down the drain, eventually ending up in the ocean where they break into microplastics. In order to tackle this pollution epidemic we need to cut off microfibres at the source; the washing machine. Many newer models come with microfibre filters already fitted, so it’s worth checking before making a purchase (if you happen to be in the market for a new machine, check out some of our recommendations here).
Microfibre filters capture synthetic fibres from our washes before they can enter the water stream. Options include filters that can be retrofitted to your machine, or filter bags that you pop your clothes into before putting them into the machine. As a relatively easy and low cost solution to preventing oceanic plastic pollution, they’re a worthy investment. To this end, we’ve has compiled a list of recommendations for products on the market.
As ever we try to highlight companies who not only provide high quality goods, but who also have a fantastic environmental ethos and put the extra work into making the world a better place.
Our Top Picks…
Company: PlanetCare is an eco-conscious brand who are serious about protecting our oceans. Their filter boasts an independent testing process which puts it a cut above other products on the market. Not only do they provide the filters, PlanetCare also operates a ‘closed loop’ service whereby they collect used filters for free so they can recycle the fibres, saving them from simply going to landfill.
PlanetCare say they have so far stopped 500 tons of fibre from ending up in the ocean. Their filters can be retrofitted to any washing machine using either one of their kits or existing drainage.
Product: Capturing 90% of fibres, PlanetCare filters should be considered a worthy investment with a fitting kit coming in at £50 – £120. Meanwhile a monthly payment of £6.27 will see you getting a refill subscription.
Company: Taking a different approach, GuppyFriend provides specially designed bags that catch microfibres, rather than a machine fixture (although production of a fitted filter is reportedly in the pipeline). Laundry is placed in the bags prior to washing, which they guarantee won’t affect the laundering process.
GuppyFriend are active campaigners and encourage their customers to get involved in activism around beach cleaning, vegetable packaging, and chemicals in plastic wrappings. Their products are based on research in collaboration with several universities and they also collaborate with non-profit STOP! on micro-waste. This eco-conscious group is serious about their activism!
Product: We love that the GuppyFriend bags provide an affordable and simple solution to filtering microfibres for those who may be unsure about fitting a filter at present. One of their bags will set you back about £26, but can be used repeatedly until e.g. a rip occurs. The bag is fully recyclable, with just the zip needing to be removed before taking it down to your local plastic recycling depot.
Company: Set up by a hair specialist, EarthKind famously operate with a planetary focus and all their products are designed to be kind to the environment. EarthKind are known for their solid shampoo and soap products that are plastic-free and filled with stunning natural ingredients.
Their Sea Saver bag is a branch out from their usual fare, but we love that they’re working to clean up other people’s plastic pollution as well as reducing their own.
Product: Not available from their own site, the EarthKind Sea Saver bag is distributed through UK online retailers including Barbours. Sadly we have an inkling that this nifty device may be on its way out of the market, having recently been removed from the large retailer John Lewis, which we’d be sad to see as it provides an affordable alternative from a reputably planet-friendly company. The Sea Saver is a bag much like GuppyFriend’s, but comes in at around £7, although it may need replacing more regularly.
Company: ‘We are eating our fleeces. We are eating our yoga pants and we are eating our gym clothes’ – in the words of Rachel Miller, the co-founding force behind this clever little US-based start up. The Cora Ball is inspired by the ocean itself, with a design taking influence from the way in which oceanic particles are filtered by coral reefs. The Cora Ball team are on a mission to provide super-straightforward solutions to reducing plastic pollution in our oceans. While not quite at the 90% capture rate of a fitted filter, we admire the ‘lots of little make a big’ motto accompanying the nifty Cora Ball, and are excited to see further innovations and refinement of their products from Cora.
Product: Simply throw the Cora Ball in with your load and wash as normal, it’s that simple. The Cora Ball captures an independently reported 36% of microfibres, which may not sound that high but is up from the previously reported 26%, and is accompanied by its super ease of use. One Cora Ball should be sufficient for a full load, the resilience of the product means there’s no need to panic if it accidentally ends up in the tumble dryer, and it should also last you a good few years. The Cora Ball is available from online retailers Babi Pur, Rainbow Brands and Floral Fox from around £30.00.
We do our best to research and find the most environmentally-friendly companies to recommend at GoEco. However, if you have any suggestions that we might not know of, or disagree with any of our recommendations, please get in contact: email@example.com. We always want to learn more about the companies with the potential to save our future!