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What happens when two fish get angry? - The tuna is rising.

Guess who is the biggest culprit of ocean pollution? I'm spoiling for you: it's not Elon Musk, it's your washing machine. How can something that is supposed to clean actually… Get dirty?! I'll explain all that to you.

Clothing contains plastic fragments called synthetic microfibers . With each machine wash, hundreds of thousands or even millions of microfibers go into the waste system, and some will then end up in the oceans. Who says oceans also says rivers, ice floes, seabed... Several studies have shown that rainwater and even sand are affected by this disaster.

This phenomenon is increasing tenfold due to several factors, notably the increase in the world population , the number of washing machines , clothing per individual and finally synthetic clothing . You should know that the more clothes you have, the more you pollute since it is especially the first washes that spit out the most microfibers.

Two key figures to keep in mind to show off at your next dinner with friends:

  • 5 trillion pieces of plastic are already floating in our oceans.
  • Every year, at least 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the oceans.

Why is this (really) not good news?

The consequences are first and foremost for our apple, us Men. The problem manifests itself first… on our plates . To give you an idea, for 300 grams of mussel flesh, we ingest on average 300 plastic microparticles!

But still, if it was only that, we could only blame ourselves. The thing is that this pollution impacts a lot of living organisms that didn't ask anyone for anything. The fish are taking a toll and the marine plants are seriously showing off. The entire aquatic ecosystem suffers. And this causes a collapse of biodiversity : alteration of the development of corals, devastation on the behavior, on the development, on the physiology and on the reproduction of a whole range of species. In short, not tiptop.

Good. We reassure you, a good part of the particles are still intercepted in the treatment of wastewater . But not everything and not everywhere! Depending on the continent, the requirements are not the same, and above all, it is not (yet) done in all countries. In any case, remember that it remains difficult to stop the smallest particles , anywhere.

5000 billion plastics are already floating in our oceans.

Is protecting the oceans that important?

The answer is yes. Yes Yes Yes. The oceans constitute a real lung for the planet , just like the Amazon forest. They regulate our climate and temperatures . They produce around 50% of the oxygen we breathe, and absorb around 30% of global CO2 emissions . These oceans are too strong.

Solutions for washing your clothes while polluting less.

Let's get back to our subject. Or rather to our washing machines. One of the things that pollutes the oceans when we wash our clothes is laundry detergent .

Beware, laundry detergent marketing is misleading . He likes to make us believe that his product is natural or even “ecological” (if we refer to the packaging of organic detergents that we can find on the market). The reality is quite different: we sometimes find petroleum derivatives, palm oil and other junk of all kinds in the ingredients... Goops.

Lack of pot, at present there are still no regulations that require manufacturers to list all the ingredients contained in their detergent . It is therefore advisable to rely on labels rather than ingredients even if their specifications still remain insufficiently demanding. To date, it is the Ecocert label which remains the most serious.

Now for a little optimism, it will do everyone good. Everything is not ruined, and to prove it to you we are offering you small actions that can make a difference.

Small steps to take when washing your clothes.

Take the bull by the horns.

And before that, how can we act?

Let's talk a little, let's talk about clothing compositions . Did you know that synthetic fibers today represent 60.1% of global textile consumption? Natural textiles are preferred , because they will not release synthetic microfibers into the drains. Choosing natural materials such as linen, cotton, silk or cashmere therefore seems at first glance a good option. But a problem never comes alone, you should know that natural materials raise other environmental issues: linen uses a lot of water, cotton a lot of pesticides... There is no miracle solution. You have to choose your battles.

One thing is certain: the best solution is still to buy fewer clothes . The diagram is simple: new clothes are those that release the most particles, so the longer we keep our clothes, the fewer particles they spew into the oceans and the less they pollute. Unsurprisingly, fast fashion is undoubtedly the biggest culprit of this ecological disaster .

Synthetic fibers represent 60.1% of global textile consumption.

And for outdoor clothes, how do we do it?

Unfortunately the outdoors also has its share of responsibility in all this. Outdoor lovers, we have some solutions for you. We advise you to favor:

  1. Natural stuff . Yes, it is possible to combine technology and natural materials . For example, our NOSC brand manufactures its outdoor products from castor oil. It is an innovative fiber with multiple technical properties, such as 5x faster drying and anti-odor properties. Enough to add glitter to your life, Kévin.
  2. Quality gear . Choose equipment that will last over time . That's good, on we select the cream of outdoor gear, the one that will accompany you for years.
  3. Brands committed to the planet . At Muule, we measure the commitment of outdoor brands using our transparency barometer . And we give them a grade based on strict specifications. Our role is to inform you about the commitment of our brands so that you can make an informed choice when you decide to buy .

Combining technicality and natural materials, the new challenge for outdoor brands.

The end of the story.

Nothing is lost. Fish and corals are counting on you to act on two levels :

  1. When you buy your clothes. By slowing down your clothing consumption, buying quality clothing that you will keep for a long time or even by favoring second hand.
  2. When you wash your clothes. By implementing the small actions that make a difference (see the diagram), such as putting a filter in your machine, washing your clothes at 30°C or reducing the quantity of detergent used.

Nemo thanks you. Blop.

Article written by Solenn de Muule on May 14, 2024.

Sources: Futura Sciences, National Geographic, Conservation Nature, Vogue.

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