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A large part of our clothing contains synthetic materials. During washing, tiny plastic fibres break and enter rivers and oceans via the waste water and thus harm our environment. This is exactly where the Guppyfriend washing bag comes in. According to the Fraunhofer Institute UMSICHT, on average 86% fewer fibres of synthetic clothing break when washed with the washing bag. The fibres that do break collect in the corners of the washing bag after washing and can be easily removed and disposed of.
- It reduces fiber shedding and protects your clothes.
- It filters the few fibers that do break and doesn’t lose any fibers itself.
- It’s a daily reminder to change our buying habits and washing rituals.
• German Textile Research Centre North-West, DTNW
• Fraunhofer Institute UMSICHT
• University of California at Santa Barbara as part of the Patagonia research programme.
The Guppyfriend Washing Bag prevents fibre loss during washing in two ways:
1. The Guppyfriend Washing Bag drastically reduces the number of fibres that break off.
Tests by the Fraunhofer Institute UMSICHT showed on average:
a) 79% with partly synthetic clothes
b) 86% with completely synthetic clothing. Thus, the clothing can be worn much longer.
2. Plastic fibres that break off during washing are retained in the bag and thus do not pollute the wastewater. The fibres were retained by over 90% - in most cases 100% - in all tests. Nanoparticles, mostly residues from production, which can be found especially on cheap textiles, cannot be retained by the washing bag.
Other test results:
• No toxic residues were found on the product.
• The bags can withstand 50 household washes according to ISO 6330 without damage and do not release any microplastic particles into the water themselves (Note: when used correctly, the Guppyfriend Washing Bag can also be used beyond the tested number of 50 washes).
• Cleanliness after washing: Blood, ketchup and chocolate are washed out without any problems. The washing effect of skin grease and clay is sufficient.
• The number of broken fibres depends on the washing conditions and the clothes themselves.
The Guppyfriend Washing Bag significantly reduces fibre breakage. The fibres that break off during washing are retained in the bag. The clothes become clean and - if the wash bag is used correctly - it can be used for a long time to keep microplastics out of our rivers and oceans. Click here for the test results.
• Information events and material: what can be done to avoid micro plastics beyond the washing bag?
• Making the findings from our countless washing tests available to the textile industry in order to establish better yarns and manufacturing techniques that noticeably reduce microfibre discharge from clothing.
• Expanding the Stop! Plastic Academy, lectures on microplastics at schools and universities.
• Initiation and support of local activities, so-called Stop! stations, to avoid single-use plastic.
• Research into new, pragmatic solutions to reduce microfibers.
More information about the STOP! Plastic Academy can be found at www.stopmicrowaste.com
However, clothes made of pure cotton and wool can also be washed in the Guppyfriend Washing Bag, because textiles made of natural materials also lose fibres. Washing in the Guppyfriend significantly reduces fibre breakage and thus protects your clothes from wear and tear. You can enjoy your clothes much longer - another sustainable advantage of the Guppyfriend Washing Bag.
By the way: Unfortunately, synthetic fibres may even be present in clothes if they are not indicated on the care label. The rules for listing the components on care labels vary widely, thus a jumper labelled as 100% wool may contain up to 10% of synthetic fibres.
Only natural detergents without synthetics, such as abrasive particles, gel and skin-forming agents, gums and silicones, opacifiers, acrylates and cross-polymers are not problematic. If you use washing powder, please make sure that it does not contain any liquid plastics or rubbers (xanthan gum) or abrasive particles and that the detergent is well dissolved before it gets onto the laundry.
Since liquid detergent is mainly sold in plastic packaging, you can also fill your own liquid detergent in many zero-waste shops, which of course improves the eco-balance even more.
By the way: The Guppyfriend also works with washing eggs or washing nuts. However, any solid object washed with the clothes will cause significantly more fibres to break. We can therefore not recommend the use of a wash egg or wash nuts - even if they are used with good intentions - as they lead to more plastic in the oceans.
In general, the warmer you wash, the shorter the life of your clothes. You can find more washing tips in our washing guide “Wash better”.
To avoid this, it is important to always put additional garments without any synthetic fibres into the washing drum when using the Guppyfriend washing bag. You can also add another filled washing bag. This prevents an imbalance and your washing machine should spin as usual.
The reason for this is that the electrostatic reaction of round plastic material (such as synthetic clothing and the round nylon monofilaments of the Guppyfriend laundry bag) creates a magnetic field. Broken fibres are attracted and orientate themselves at a 90° angle to the mesh of the Guppyfriend Washing Bag. Aligned in this way, they can pierce the material and go straight through the mesh. In the washing machine, there is water in and around the bag and the broken fibres lie at various angles on the net, so they cannot pierce through it.
Microfibres do not belong in recyclable waste (yellow bin, yellow bag, green dot) because they cannot be recycled.
By the way: In Germany, residual waste is used to generate electricity and does not end up in landfills. The exhaust gases from waste incineration are filtered and 99% of them are non-toxic. If you don't live in Germany, you can check the Waste Atlas here http://www.atlas.d-waste.com to see what happens to the waste in your region.
In addition, the Guppyfriend Washing Bag has been designed to prevent microfibre loss at source. Due to the smooth surface and structure of the material, fewer microfibres break off during washing. This ensures that your clothes are protected, pilling is avoided and fibre loss is reduced. According to a test series by the Fraunhofer Institute UMSICHT, synthetic clothing loses on average 86% fewer fibres compared to washing without the Guppyfriend Washing Bag. The microfibres that nevertheless break off accumulate over time. You are most likely to find them in the corners or at the hem.
By the way: The number of fibres that break during washing depends on the type of clothes and the way you wash them: very new or very old clothes tend to lose more microfibres. The higher the temperature, the more likely it is that microfibres will break off. The softer the fabrics, the fewer fibres will break off, etc.
You can find more washing tips to reduce microplastic pollution in our washing guide “Wash better”.
By the way: Recycled material cannot (yet) be used for high-tech fabrics like the material of our Guppyfriend Washing Bags. Unfortunately, old Guppyfriends cannot yet be used for the production of new Guppyfriends. Therefore, it does not make sense to return your old Guppyfriend to us - especially with regard to the resources needed for shipping. It is best to return your old Guppyfriend to your local recycling centre, where it can be recycled with identical materials.
We have developed a working prototype for a washing machine filter and other companies are also working on such solutions. However, it will take some time before these filters are effective and permanently functional. Until then, the Guppyfriend Washing Bag is a practical and effective way to reduce plastic pollution in rivers and oceans and raise awareness about the problem.
Microplastic fibres are particularly difficult to filter out. Due to their shape and floating properties, they pass through the filter systems much more frequently than other types of microplastics such as pellets, so-called microbeads from cosmetics and other plastic fragments.
But even if they are filtered out, the plastic particles often end up back in the environment with the sewage sludge. If the sewage sludge is not incinerated, it is used as fertiliser on fields. From here, the microplastic particles bound in the sewage sludge make their way back into our oceans.
So-called combined sewer overflows are another problem. They serve to relieve the sewage system in the case of heavy rain. In order to prevent backwater in households during heavy rainfall, the wastewater flows through the sewers untreated when the volume of water is high.
By the way, the wastewater from the gullies does not pass through a sewage treatment plant, but flows mostly unfiltered into our waters. The microplastic particles from tyre and shoe sole abrasion, as well as microplastic fibres found in the air and in sewage sludge, therefore pollute our environment directly.
For technical reasons, the filtering possibilities of sewage treatment plants are unfortunately not sufficient to prevent the pollution of the oceans by microplastics. However, by rethinking our buying habits and mindful washing behaviour, everyone can contribute to reducing the amount of microplastics entering the environment.