First, the basics: Microplastics are tiny pieces of plastic that are less than five millimeters in length (think smaller than a sesame seed). A major source of these plastic bits is large plastic items that break down over time. Other microplastics are intentionally designed to be small, like microbeads, found in health and beauty products, including some cleansers and toothpastes, to give the product exfoliating or scrubbing properties.

A third source of microplastics comes from an unexpected place—our clothing. Synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, and acrylic shed “microfibers” of plastic when they’re washed.

Microplastics flow straight from our showers, sinks, and washing machines into the sewer system, passing through water treatment systems, and ending up in rivers, lakes and oceans. Aquatic life and birds mistake microplastics for food, which can be lethal to these animals. Human health can also be at risk, as these microplastics can make their way into our food!

That's why our Week Three Challenge is to Find and Eliminate Microplastics!
Don't forget! Throughout the month of May, mention you are taking Eco-Cycle's Reduce Your Plastic Use Challenge , and receive 10% off your purchase at Refill Revolution and Simply Bulk Market !
Thousands of personal care products contain microplastic ingredients (AND come in plastic packaging, too). Take some time this week to go through the personal care products in your home and watch out for ingredients that signal plastic microbeads like:
  • Polyethylene (PE)
  • Polypropylene (PP)
  • Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
  • Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) and
  • Nylon (PA)

Check out Beat The Microbead , which contains detailed lists of products that do and do not contain microplastics.
Check your tags. You may well be shocked how much your closet consists of synthetic fibers, such as polyester, nylon, and spandex. These fabrics are made with plastic. When they are washed, friction from the cleaning process causes microfibers to shed from clothing into the laundry water, which enters our waterways.

Unlike natural fibers - such as cotton, linen, and wool - synthetic fibers do not break down naturally in the environment, and even bind with molecules of harmful chemicals pollutants. Consider purchasing items that contain natural fibers moving forward. If you need to buy synthetic, invest in high-quality synthetic garments, which shed less than low-quality garments.
As you read above, microfibers from our clothing enter water systems when we wash them. Friction and hot water are the culprits that lead to more microfibers being shed. To reduce this, make sure you have a full load before you run the washer, set the temperature to cold, and use the low-spin setting. These simple steps can reduce friction and heat during the washing process, which in turn can reduce the amount of fibers shed.
Or, invest in a fiber-catching, friction-reducing laundry bag called the Guppy Friend . It was created by surfing buddies who wanted to reduce the amount of fibers shed from their synthetic clothing, and catch the fibers that are shed before they enter waterways. Look for them at Patagonia !
Try out a DIY recipe for personal care products that
exfoliate with natural ingredients!

In 2015, microbeads were banned in rinse-off cosmetic products, including face scrubs and toothpaste. However, that ban will not take full effect for another year or two. Want to avoid scrubs and toothpastes containing microplastics now? These DIY recipes will help you avoid microplastics AND plastic packaging!

P.S. – Have a favorite scrub or soap recipe to share? Join our Reduce Your Plastic Use Challenge Facebook group and share!
Meet up on Facebook!
Want to add an extra level of support and accountability during this challenge?

Join the Reduce Your Plastic Use Facebook Group ! Share your progress, ask questions, and interact with others taking on the challenge.

You can also submit questions directly to Eco-Cycle through this form . We'll try to respond within 24 hours!
Week Three Giveaway
Organic fabrics are best for reducing plastic microfiber pollution. This week, we’ll be giving away four 100% cotton t-shirts by PACT !

You're automatically entered to win giveaways each week.
Eco-Cy cle is a 501(c)(3) nonp rofit social enterprise. All revenues generated are invested in programs to advance Zero Waste communities in Colorado.
Questions? Contact us!