As a disclaimer I’d like to mention when I first started the journey of developing this system the microfibre cloth was going to be my go to until I put it alongside my brand values.
It’s thought that the fabric microfiber first reared its very effective (but ugly) head back in the mid 1970s in Japan. It remained on the periphery of the cleaning, clothing and skin care industries for a good 20 years or so when suddenly in the 1990s it became the most popular man-made fabric particle since pleather (let’s not even go there, please). So, the skinny on microfiber is that it’s made from polyesters, polyamides and/or polypropylene. In other words, it’s a kind of nylon that mimics the look and feel of silk but has none of the crushability. This makes it great for use in clothing, as it’s easy to wear and makes weekly ironing almost obsolete. It’s also said to be a dream to clean with because it attracts dust and dirt quickly and effectively without the need for cleaning products. And being highly absorbent (it’s thought to hold up to seven times its weight in water), it’s great for removing spot spills like red wine on your new rug.
But here’s where it gets ugly. Really ugly.
Every time you rinse or wash your microfiber sponge, mop head or blouse, tiny micro-particles of plastic are released into the water and end up in our oceans, which as we know are teetering on the brink of a major ecological disaster – largely because of (you guessed it) plastic pollution. You see, the tiny plastic fibres that form the fabric are far too small to be caught and contained at our water treatment plants and they wind up in the sea. These synthetic fibres are then ingested by marine life, which are in turn ingested by beings higher up in the food chain (including humans) and the effect on our health is thought to be staggering. According to The Guardian, “A study out of the University of Exeter, in which crabs were given food contaminated with microfibers, found that they altered animals’ behaviour. The crabs ate less food overall, suggesting stunted growth over time.”* In a nutshell, while microfiber may seem like a quick, effective and perfect solution to a stress-free life, in reality it is anything but. It is destroying our planet and threatening the existence of the creatures that reside on it – including humans.
What to do?
Look for natural alternatives – it’s that simple. Silk, cotton, bamboo … all work equally as well, if not better than microfiber. In terms of fashion – nobody minds a bit of a natural looking crease here and there – in fact, it looks quite beautiful. Home cleaning products? Re-use that old T-shirt as a cleaning cloth and team it with the vast array of beautifully scented and highly effective eco-friendly cleaning product options. In terms of skin care cleansing cloths, you can’t beat a silk tufted cloth that actually exfoliates as it removes your natural cleanser and infuses goodness into your skin, rather than stealing health from our planet.