Did you know that washing harms the environment? When we wash synthetic fabrics, fibers come loose and find their way into the oceans, and most water processing plants can not catch them due to their size.
This has become a significant contributor to microplastic pollution from our washing machines
In my article “What are Microfibers?” I mentioned the Guppyfriend, a laundry bag designed to #stopmicroplastic right at the source before it can even get into the ocean.
Why you need a guppyfriend washing bag
- To stop microplastic pollution
- When washing your clothes, they can shed up to 250.000 fibers per load.
- This is no big deal with natural fibers since they will biodegrade.
- Synthetic fibers act as sponges for toxins and make their way through wastewater treatment plants into the ocean.
- They get eaten by plankton and make their way up the food chain onto our plates.
- The toxins are released into the fat tissue of the animals we eat.
- The average human consumes 70.000 pieces of microplastic per year
If you’d like to learn more about how microfibers play a role in plastic pollution, read here.
What is the Guppyfriend washing bag?
The guppy bags are washing bags designed to catch tiny plastic fragments from our clothing.
The Guppyfriend washing bag is from a nonprofit organization called STOP MICRO WASTE, initiated by Langbrett. A group of surfers and nature lovers from Germany.
This laundry bag is made of Polyamide 6.6, a recyclable plastic polymer. It is not losing any fibers from the bag itself; these are long-chain polymers that don’t break easily.
I know it’s ironic. We need a plastic bag to catch plastic fibers.
But the guys from STOP MICRO WASTE made it easy for us to send the bag back to them to turn it into a new one once yours has reached the end of its lifecycle.
I have used mine for the last 18 months, and it still looks brand-new.
How to use the Guppyfriend?
Let me tell you; it is simple. Just take it out of its pretty packaging and fill it half full with your synthetic clothes.
You will be surprised how many clothes are made from synthetic fibers like nylon, spandex, acrylic, or polyester. At least I was.
I thought my comfy socks… nope, 80% cotton and the rest were plastic. I even spend a whole day looking for nice socks on the internet only to find costly ones to be all-natural. But if you don’t want to spend $50 on socks, you must go synthetic.
However, I did across quite a few companies creating nice-looking socks and giving back to good causes, which you can find in this article.
Well, the good news is you can put them into your Guppyfriend, which is only CAD 38, and you can wash your synthetic clothes with peace of mind.
Add natural clothes to the washing machine to balance the load and wash regularly.
- The Guppyfriend is actually helping your clothes stay fresh longer.
- it helps to prevent more fibers from breaking off your clothes
- 90% of the microplastic fibers are kept in the bag
- We discovered that even though it is a big bag, size 50 x 74 cm
- it quickly filled up
- you can only fill it halfway up
- You may need two if your clothes are mainly synthetic.
The unusual reason why you need one
YOU ARE HELPING THE ENVIRONMENT TO STAY CLEAN, AND YOU ARE NOT CONTRIBUTING TO MORE MICRO WASTE IN THE OCEAN
The problem with synthetic clothes
Synthetic clothing has become a very cheap way to make clothes and also a way to be more flexible and often used in active wear. There are only very few options when it comes to activewear that is made from sustainable materials.
Check out my review on the Fioboc shirt meant to disrupt the activewear industry with a more sustainable fiber.
Synthetic clothes require oil as a natural resource, and the oil is turned into synthetic textiles like nylon, spandex and more. All of these are shedding tiny plastic fragments that threaten the environment.
I prefer natural materials on my skin, but I often find synthetic textiles start to smell much earlier than natural ones. It doesn’t matter how many times I wash my clothes. After a while, synthetic clothing ends up in the bin because I can not remove the smell anymore.
Still not convinced? Here are three more reasons why you need a Guppy bag
- I purchased my Guppyfriend from tentree, a company that plants ten trees for each product purchased. Not only do we stop micro waste from going into our oceans, but we also plant trees. You get a tracking code and can check where your trees are growing. The 10Tree Tag
- Our synthetic clothes will last longer since they shed fewer fibers in the bag.
- It doesn’t require changing any old habits. You can go on with life and know you are doing your part.
What is Guppyfriend made of?
The bag is made from the most common nylon type: 6.6 thread.
Does the bag itself lose fibers?
I called them, and this is what they answered.
The mesh is made out of monofilaments, which are more like sticks than threads, and thus do not release fibers. -guppyfriend
DOES THE GUPPYFRIEND washing bag FILTER OUT WATER REPELLENT AGENTS?
- Water-repellent agents are water-soluble; therefore, they cannot be filtered out by the bag.
HOW DO YOU CLEAN THE GUPPYFRIEND washing bag?
- You will notice the fibers accumulating in the corners of the bag. Usually, after a couple of washes, you dispose of them in the bin.
- Turn the mesh bag inside out and pick the fiber content by hand. Make sure to dispose of it in the bin, and don’t flush it down the toilet. That only adds to the problem.
HOW MANY FIBERS BREAK LESS WHEN USING THE GUPPYFRIEND washing bag?
- As a part of a test program, the Fraunhofer Institute UMSICHT has confirmed that the Guppyfriend washing bag not only reliably retains microfibers but also protects the textiles: Compared to washing without the Guppyfriend, 86% fewer fibers shed from synthetic textiles. -guppyfriend
WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THE PROFITS?
- Profits are reinvested in additional activities to address the microwaste problem and to avoid single-use plastics. We already take action to reduce microwaste and hope to extend the scope of the following activities:
- Inform about microplastic pollution: What can be done to reduce microwaste above and beyond the Guppyfriend?
- Accelerate re-engineering of textiles: With our countless and ongoing washing tests, we receive and share valuable information on improving garments to reduce microfiber shedding.
- Extend our STOP! Plastic Academy lectures on how to avoid microwaste and single-use plastics.
- Initiate local activities – so-called STOP! Stations- to actively reduce (micro)plastic pollution
- Research for innovative, pragmatic solutions to reduce microfiber pollution. – guppyfriend
Does the Guppyfriend work?
The Guppyfriend washing bag works excellently at collecting fibers and preventing microplastic pollution from your clothes. It is, however, limited in size and we found that sometimes the clothes didn’t come out as clean as we’d hoped.
We have tried different washing rituals, using the Tru Earth laundry strips and comparing them to liquid detergent, with no significant differences. Even though it takes a while to collect microplastics, they eventually gather in one of the corners of the guppy bag, where you can easily pick them out.
The other microfiber-catching device I have come across during my research is the Cora ball, which claims to imitate a coral reef and supposedly catches microplastic with its tentacle arms. I am very skeptical of this device and have to yet test it out for myself.
Does the guppyfriend washing bag work with any washing machine?
We have used it in a top and front loader, and it worked fine every time.
Don’t throw the bag in the drier. Just remove your wet clothing and hang it to dry. Collect the micro waste in the corners of the bag and discard them accordingly.
To prevent microplastic pollution, I think the guppyfriend washing bag is a step in the right direction. While it isn’t convenient having to wash your clothing in a laundry bag, it also limits the number of clothes you can wash in your washing machines.
It could actually contribute to using more water since the load isn’t complete.
So far, I am doing my bit to end micro waste and plastic pollution. I have never been so excited about doing my laundry. I recommend the Guppyfriend to everyone with a washing machine and make sure that when you empty the microfibers’ bag, do not toss them down the drain. Just saying…
If you come across some other cool ways to help our oceans from drowning in plastic, email me at [email protected] or leave a comment below.