A collaborative campaign raising awareness on plastic microfibre pollution

Synthetic materials like polyester, nylon and acrylic contain plastic, and they make up the majority of our wardrobes. When washed, these fabrics shed tiny strands of plastic fibres, less than 5mm long, called plastic microfibres.

Half a million tonnes of plastic microfibres a year contribute to ocean pollution – 16 times more than the plastic microbeads from cosmetics - making them the largest source of primary microplastic pollution in our oceans (Ellen MacArthur Foundation).

Studies have found microfibres in our food – from mussels and table salt to honey and beer. They've even been found in our stools, though the long term impact on human health is unknown.

'What's In My Wash?' is a campaign and collaborative website that collates latest research and thinking on the issue and calls on a range of industry sectors to take collaborative action. It also shares actions people can take at home in the meantime, to extend the life of their clothes and reduce the likelihood of microfibres shedding.

Follow the campaign with #WhatsInMyWash and see what's on now.

The difference so far

'What's In My Wash?' first launched in June 2018 with the aim of raising public awareness. A pop-up installation at Old Street tube station visualised the connection between the way we buy and care for clothes and the impact this is having on the environment. We have since run another week long installation in November 2018 at Bond Street tube. A series of videos featuring researchers opened up an informative and honest conversation with the public on what we know about the issue, and where more research is needed. Finally, public polling investigated the level of public concern to encourage more collaborative action amongst government and industry.

The campaign had a reach of 1.67 million and gained over 200 pieces of media coverage including The Sun (scroll down before you think we've misdirected you to the Love island look!), The Metro, The Mail Online, The Stylist and Huffington Post. We had over 750 conversations with the public at Old Street tube station in June and the Bond Street tube installation in November 2018 and are continuing to bring together different parts of industry.

(Image of Bond Street Installation 7th November 2018)

Collaborate with us

We hope that as more people become aware about the connection between fabrics and microplastic, the greater the pressure will be to address the problem. To keep people up-to-date on latest developments Hubbub has created a new online resource at www.whatsinmywash.org.uk.

If your organisation could be part of the solution and you want to know how to get involved, please get in touch.

With thanks to The House Of Fraser Foundation and Campaign For Wool for supporting the creation of What's In My Wash?. Thanks to The Women's Institute and Plastic Soup Foundation for backing the campaign, and thanks to the microfibre research community for helping Hubbub create messages informed by science and what we know about the issue so far.