Microfibres, Macro Problem: reducing microplastics in our oceans

Did you know that more than 1 in 3 primary ocean microplastics come from washing textiles?  

Synthetic fabrics like polyester, nylon and acrylic make up the majority of our wardrobes. In fact, 60% of all clothing made contains polyester. These fabrics are actually a type of plastic and due to friction, when washed they shed tiny strands of plastic less than 5mm long, called plastic microfibres. Like microbeads, they are a type of microplastic pollution, ending up in our rivers, oceans and food.  

Microfibres are released from synthetic clothes every time they’re washed and we’ve been supporting environmental charity Hubbub to inspire and empower consumers to help reduce microfibre pollution. The #whatsinmywash campaign provides simple steps that can be taken at home to help clean up our oceans, including: 

  • Only using the washing machine when needed and alternative washing techniques 
  • Choose better quality clothes – will it get 30 wears? Check the label too and look out for clothes made from organic and well-sourced fabrics 
  • Wash clothes the gentle way by checking care labels. Softer washes will reduce friction, reducing the release of microfibres and helping keep clothes in shape for longer. This includes washing at 30°, using a full load and avoiding tumble dryers. 

The campaign generated 170 pieces of national and regional coverage, including Metro and ITV News. Reaching our target audiences where their interests lie is essential to behaviour change, so we were particularly delighted to place these important messages in the weekly fashion round up in The Sun alongside Love Island beachwear! 

Borough Market

Borough Market is London’s oldest food market, having been established over 1,000 years ago.  Today it is a vibrant, diverse market renowned for its exceptional produce, which is run as a charity for the benefit of the community.

Borough Market puts sustainability at the heart of its operations and Barley was appointed in July 2017 to support with sustainability communications. Our first goal was to raise awareness about the new drinking water fountains in Borough Market, alongside an announcement of the Market’s intention to go plastic-free over the next six months. The extensive media coverage included The Guardian, i, Sun, Metro, Telegraph and Evening Standard, BBC London, ITV London and London Live.  Borough Market has since been cited as an example to follow in follow up pieces in The Guardian, Refinery 29, Lonely Planet News, Scotland on Sunday and Mail Online.

[notebox]Borough Market is London’s oldest food market, having been established over 1,000 years ago.