Preventing water crises
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Preventing water crises

Washing tips to reduce the quantity of microplastics

In recent years, a new concept related to environmental pollution has gained wide-ranging recognition: microplastics. The term denotes pieces of plastic smaller than 5 mm resulting from the break-up of plastic items. During washing, clothing made of synthetic fibres sheds many microfibres that pollute our waters and damage our environment.

No matter how small, microplastics pose a threat to nature: according to Austrian research, the Danube, for instance, carries 1500 tonnes of microplastics per year.

About 35% of the plastic particles originates from synthetic fabrics in garments and synthetic textiles such as nylon. The microplastics shed during washing reach the rivers, seas and oceans, because wastewater management plants are unable to filter out those tiny particles at present.

So what can we do to reduce the amount of microplastics that our clothes shed?

  1. Wash less
    Most dirty clothing needs no more than a quick rinse, while clothes that have only been worn for a few hours could be refreshed simply by airing.
  2. Wash at lower temperatures, using shorter programmes
    Say goodbye to the tradition of washing clothes at 40 degrees and bedding at 60 degrees. Temperatures of 20 to 30 degrees and shorter, 15-30 minute cycles are quite capable of dealing with milder soiling perfectly.
  3. Replace washing powder by washing gel
    Due to its texture, solid washing powder is actually quite rough on clothing, resulting in more microplastics being worn off than if we use liquid detergent.
  4. Spin-dry at lower speeds
    Spin-drying also breaks off many microfibers, so use the lower speed settings.
Microplastics have been found at a number of locations around the world from Antarctica to the deepest regions
of the oceans
Photo: Shutterstock

Source: Holy Duck!

Further information: STOP! Micro Waste

Shaping attitudes the Danish way: free kayaking in return for picking up waste

Protecting our waters against pollution is in all our interests. It is no accident that an increasing number of initiatives are trying to engage society at large in taking part in the protection of the environment. The Danish NGO GreenKayak, for instance, offers free kayaking in locations around Northern Europe and all they ask in return is that kayakers should pick up waste they find in the water along the way.

The psychology of the waters

Many studies have shown that time spent in nature, fresh air and a green environment has benefits not only for our bodies but also for our souls and minds. In addition to mountains, forests and meadows, waterfronts are particularly attractive destinations.

50 foods that could save Earth

From cacti through algae and vitamin-rich flowers to drought-resistant root vegetables, Knorr and WWF have compiled a list of 50 nutritious foods whose consumption would be more advantageous for human health, while their cultivation would benefit our planet relative to our present dominant food sources.

Climate change on the catwalk

A number of fashion designers have reacted to climate change and its consequences with their collections shown at the Paris Fashion Week.

The five steps of saving water

Clean water is a great treasure, yet we waste a lot of it for no good reason: for instance, a dripping tap can waste up to 75 litres per day. It is our obligation to save water: it leaves more for others, and we can also save money.

How to avoid polluting the Earth with our clothing

The fashion industry is one of the most harmful for the environment: it wastes water, pollutes the air, encourages overconsumption, wastefulness and also produces massive quantities of waste. The damage caused by the monthly replacement of fast fashion collections on the shelves of fashion stores would fill a very long list. But how can we counteract it?

Overeating fattens ecological problems, too

Most people are aware that any unnecessary calories we ingest are detrimental to our health, but few consider that food consumed in excess of our real needs – and the energy, water and other resources used for its production – is of little utility, it is practically wasted.

Sustainable materials for the fashion industry?

The textile industry is one of the most polluting industries of all: it produces microfibres and chemicals and uses huge quantities of water while making 150 billion new articles of clothing every year. The environmental load caused by the fashion industry causes inestimable damage, and the best way to counteract that is to choose clothing made of more sustainable textiles. But where are they?

New perspectives for the feast table – or what on earth is insect marketing?

Food waste is a growing problem in developed countries. Massive amounts of perfectly edible food is thrown away because of merely aesthetic blemishes. The psychological factor behind the phenomenon is disgust, which may apply in relation to edible insects, as well. That attitude ought to be reconsidered from a climate protection perspective.

Are drastic lifestyle changes required to protect the climate?

A BBC article suggests that people’s personal responsibility doesn’t stop at reducing car traffic: eating and shopping habits must also be rethought.