Do Batoko swimsuits release microfibers?
More and more of us are learning about the affects of plastic on the environment and growing research shows us that this type of pollution can come in many unexpected forms, such as from the clothing we wear. When tiny fibres shed from our synthetic clothing and enter our oceans, this is known as microfiber pollution.
Which leads us on to an important question - do our swimsuits release microfibres? Taking into account that all fabrics shed - the short answer is yes! Our swimsuits will undoubtedly start to break down overtime thus releasing microfibers. But how much and how quickly really boils down to their quality and how they are cared for.
Before you contemplate ditching swimwear altogether, know that quality makes a world of difference.
The quality of our fabric is extremely important to us for many reasons. Our logic is this; if we're going to use recycled fabric and convince people that fabric made from rubbish really is as good as (or dare we say it better than) raw polyester, then it needs to be the highest quality. And high quality, tightly constructed fabric breaks down at a significantly slower rate.
How you look after it and wash it will either add or subtract years from it's life.
Our swimsuits can technically be machine washed, but we label them as hand wash. This isn't some cruel trick we're playing on you to load up on your laundry time - hand wash really is the best way to look after your swimwear. Not only does this keep your swimsuit in great condition, it's so much better for the environment saving a ton of energy and water wastage.
Wear more, wash less. We don't know about you but when we see hand wash on a label, we make that sucker last a lonnnnng time between washes.
How to test for microfibers at home: Enter the Guppyfriend Bag.
Microfibres are released on mass in the washing machine, so to test our swimsuits for shedding we decided to put them through some washes. We used the Guppyfriend bag by Stop! Micro Waste (a non-profit organisation from Berlin) which is designed specifically to capture microfibers from synthetic clothing whilst they get tumbled around in the washing machine. You simply put your clothes in the bag, zip it up and pop it in the machine. At the end of the wash you will see just how much your favourite clothes are shedding and how many microfibres you saved from escaping down the drain.
So without further ado, here's our test.
Wash #1 (30c standard spin)
We found a small piece of turquoise fibre hiding in the seam of the bag. It's fuzzy, so most likely a loose piece that's come away from the stitching. Other than this the bag was clear of visible fibres - not a bad start.
We decided to speed up the spin to really get it tumbling.
Wash #2 (30c rapid spin)
Not a visible microfibre in sight, including the corners or seams and no more blue fluff. We left the swimsuit to fully dry before washing it again.
After wash #5...
We thoroughly looked through the bag, covering the seams and anywhere else they'd likely be trapped, but couldn't find any visible fibers. This isn't to say there wasn't any at all, a look under a microscope in a lab may show up pieces that are invisible to the naked eye. But as far as a standard washing test goes, we are pretty happy with these results.
The comparison test.
Our swimsuits are made from polyester as are most fleeces, yet not all fabrics act the same. We did the following comparison test to show how shedding can differ between synthetic fabrics, even those that have the same name. We popped a black 100% polyester fleece through a 30c standard spin and here's what our Guppyfriend bag caught.
The difference is instantly visible. The inside of the bag was covered in black fibers that had shed from the fleece during the wash. It's important to note that the fleece isn't brand new and had been washed up to 10 times previous to this test, whereas the swimsuit has been washed 5 times during the test.
We do hope this test helps to settle any worries you may have about microfibres and our swimwear. For a closer look, open the photos in a new tab and zoom in. If you want to see the results for yourself then get a Guppyfriend bag and give it a go. But we recommend returning to hand washing the swimsuit after the test, you can even use the Guppyfriend bag to filter the waste water in your sink. How you care for your swimsuit makes a big difference!
An end note from us.
We are extremely passionate about tackling plastic pollution and have been researching and educating ourselves about this issue since we began beach cleaning over 18 months ago. Living by the Irish Sea, we see the direct effect plastic is having on our coastlines in the UK and we would not be making swimwear from recycled plastic if we weren't confident that it was making a positive difference.
Whereas we can easily swap other clothing to biodegradable fabrics such as cotton, bamboo and wool - it get's tricky when it comes to swimwear. All swimwear is made from synthetic materials (plastic); polyester, nylon, spandex and neoprene. Unfortunately there is no such thing as the perfect environmentally-friendly, zero-harm swimsuit, unless you want to rock your birthday suit of course.
Ultimately we see our swimwear as an alternative to needless new, raw materials being produced. We're spreading an important message, whilst helping to clear up the unprecedented amounts of single-use, throw-away plastics that are clogging up our oceans, waterways, streets and over-packed landfills. We are driven by passion for change, the love for our beautiful oceans and the marine life that depends on them - we can only hope that this shines through our work.
It's up to us an individuals to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages for each purchase choice we make and then to look after these choices as if our future depends on it.