While natural fibres like cotton or wool biodegrade , fleece and other synthetic materials are non-biodegradable and can be coated with chemicals to help with things like water resistance in sports performance . These synthetic materials shed plastic microfibres in the washing machine , the fibres aren ’ t filtered out at the waste treatment stage and they too reach the ocean . As an added hazard they are able to bind with molecules of harmful chemicals such as pesticides . Once again the microfibres are eaten by other small organisms and make their way up the food chain , often stunting the growth of shellfish and fish upon digestion . At present , washing machine manufacturers are unwilling to add some form of microfibre filter to their machines , as they claim customers don ’ t even clean the filters that already exist for visible fibres . While the large-scale answer eludes us , you can help as an individual by using products like special filter laundry bags in the washing machine and buying good quality sportswear that will deteriorate less rapidly .
Realistically , living plastic-free is well-nigh impossible these days , well , not unless you are a true eco-warrior ! Greenpeace has a plastics calculator which helps you estimate just how much disposable plastic you use in a year . Note , this website asks you to sign a petition to support the introduction of a deposit return scheme on plastic bottles . https :// tinyurl . com / k58gm4k The Marine Conservation Society has some great suggestions on how to be eco-aware with your product packaging : this includes buying loose fruit and vegetables in the supermarkets with paper bags ( which you then recycle ), or going to markets and other shops that sell loose dry goods like rice and nuts and bringing reusable bags . Try going back to soap bars , rather than using hand wash in plastic bottles – or get refillable pouches to reuse plastic bottles of toiletries and household cleaning products . Simple actions to help a complicated problem . The Marine Conservation Society also run the annual Great British Beach Clean which this year takes place on 15th-18th September 2017 ; why not get involved ?