Microplastic pollution is an increasing public concern thanks to the growing evidence that they are hazardous not only to the environment, but also to our own food chain. Microfibers, a category of microplastics, are released by synthetic clothing through regular wear and washing. That means each time you wash your fleece jacket, bits of plastic eventually make their way into river, lakes, and oceans to be consumed by aquatic life.
While water treatment plants catch some of the microfibers that come from your laundry, they don’t get everything. According to research from the University of California at Santa Barbara, a city of 100,000 inhabitants releases a wash-related volume of microfibers equivalent to 15,000 plastic bags. A city the size of Berlin may be responsible for more than 500,000 plastic bags – every single day.
This means that your own washing machine is ground zero to cut down microfibers before they start their path to pollution. Switching to a front load washing machine is one way to help, but pair that with Guppy Friend and you can make a significant difference.
Guppy Friend is a mesh laundry bag that filters out the tiniest microfibers released from your synthetic clothing during washing. Big enough to fit a couple of fleece jackets at a time, the fabric bag is made of a specially-designed microfilter material and captures 99% of fibers released in the washing process. Soap and water can get in, but the fibers can’t get out. You can see the fibers trapped inside the bag after each wash — simply throw them away and you are ready to wash the next load.
A German startup, Guppy Friend already ran a successful Kickstarter campaign last fall but plans to start another one again soon. Patagonia invested in Guppy Friend and will sell the wash bag on their own website going forward for around $20-$30 — note that Patagonia plans to sell the bag at cost.