Often when we think about sustainability and our impact on the environment, our thoughts turn to energy usage, recycling or reusable bags and cups. But did you know the choices you make about the clothes you buy, and how you care for them, can have an impact on our environment?  

The polyester, nylon and other synthetic fibres within your clothes are all forms of plastic. During washing these synthetic fibres break down, releasing around 600,000 microplastic fibres into our wastewater. And even with wastewater filtration, these microplastics have an impact on our drinking water and our environment.  

Dr Shima Ziajahromi, from Griffith’s Australian Rivers Institute, provides the following tips for reducing the environmental impact of the plastics in our clothes:  

  • Don’t over-wash your clothes (especially blankets and fleece). 
  • Try to use cold water on a shorter wash cycle. 
  • Air out an item rather than washing it frequently. 
  • Dry your clothes and linens naturally, where possible, instead of using a tumble dryer. 
  • Read clothing labels to make an informed decision about the clothes you are buying. 
  • Change your clothing habits slowly—slow adaption is better than none. 

Continuing the conversation 

Griffith researchers are continuing the conversation around the impact and management of plastic waste. These are just a handful of the wide variety of publications available through Griffith Research Online: 

Discover more quality, openly accessible research in Griffith Research Online.