When we wash our clothes we wash away more than sweat and dirt — millions of synthetic fibers go with them. A recent study from the University of California at Santa Barbara found that microfibers from 100,000 fleece jackets were equivalent to almost 12,000 plastic bags. These fibers go down the drain, into our waterways, and out into the ocean, accounting for a major source of marine pollution.
Berlin-based outdoor brand Langbrett wants to change that with the nonprofit Stop! Micro Waste and the Guppy Friend, a washing bag that uses micro-filters to keep fibers in. Toss dirty clothes in the bag, wash the bag as usual, and when it’s done dispose of the microfiber residue. Stop! Micro Waste has launched a Kickstarter campaign to support the product.
“It’s not realistic that everybody stops wearing synthetic fibers,” Stop! Micro Waste founder Oliver Spies told Digital Trends, “but it already helps if customers are aware of alternatives.”
More: Samsung washing machines are exploding with 21 reported cases
Spies said the idea behind the Guppy Friend was inspired by an evening at a Berlin beer garden and a couple strong beverages. He and co-founder Alexander Nolte realized that, although Lanbrett’s clothing use only natural materials, some of the other brands they sell use synthetic fabrics that release microfibers. “When we realized that we are contributing to the micro waste problem, we founded the nonprofit Stop! Micro Waste,” he said.
Of course, there are other ways to limit or eliminate microfiber waste, and you don’t have to go au naturel to do it. Langbrett itself is designing mesh and functional fabrics that lose fewer fibers. These smart and sustainable technologies aren’t easy to develop though, and Spies noted that the Guppy Friend was difficult to design at a reasonable price. The product is currently available on Kickstarter for under $40.