By Catherine Somerville of Sustainable Wallingford.

Following on from the article two weeks ago about what’s in the fabrics our clothes are made from, there wasn’t room to talk about how much of an issue shedding of microfibres has now become.

You may remember that quite a few of the fabrics we wear are basically, plastic. This makes them easy to care for and long-lasting. But there is a downside.

Every time we wash these materials they shed millions of plastic microfibres – threads so small they can drain out of our washing machines and pass straight through wastewater treatment plants and into the sea. One load of washing could be shedding up to 17 million tiny plastic fibres.

Read again: The perfect way to recycle plastic waste

Once in our oceans they can absorb nasty chemicals. Scientists now know sea creatures are eating these toxic fibres, potentially passing them up the food chain. Some studies have found them in seafood, like mussels.

Most of these tiny fibres come from polyester. Your lovely, cosy fleece jacket is probably made from polyester.

Other common microfibres include nylon and acrylic. They’re hiding in our carpets, curtains and other household textiles, not just our clothes.

It sounds great reading that your fleece was made using recycled plastic bottles, but these garments shed even more microfibres.

Banbury Cake:

Microplastic pollution is cropping up all over the world. These fibres have even been found in the Arctic and Antarctic.

Our washing machines aren’t yet designed to trap these minute particles. Some even get trapped in the sludge at water treatment plants. This is sprayed over fields as fertiliser. So we are eating it.

According to Friends of the Earth, these particles absorb high concentrations of chemicals. Some are chemicals that escaped into the oceans many years ago, including chemicals now banned, like DDT.

But you can help: buy fewer new clothes where possible; choose those made mainly using natural materials.

Read again: How to garden in an eco-friendly way

It's not necessary to wash everything after only one wearing, unless they are stained or you do very dirty work.

Hung up to air, most clothes are good for at least one more wear. Washing everything less often saves water and reduces electricity bills. You also reduce the amount of microfibres flushing out to sea. I guarantee no-one will notice and you won’t smell.

That’s got to be good.

This link takes you to Friends of the Earth’s full article for further information: tinyurl.com/y9zt8tcz