"Microfibers act like chemical sponges, and they’re everywhere – including our food and drinks"


Microfiber towels may feel like they’re made of cloth, but they’re actually made of plastic. Remember when there was so much buzz about microbeads and how bad they are for the environment a few years ago? They belong to a category called microplastics, and microfiber towels also fall under this umbrella.

Microplastics are defined as any plastic particles smaller than 5 millimeters. They often come from the breakdown of plastic debris like microfiber towels. Microfibers are the most prevalent type of microplastic found in the environment.

Microfiber is made mostly from polyester which is composed mostly from an ester and a dihydric alcohol and a terephthalic acid. This means microfiber is inorganic and does not biodegrade, like cotton or paper. It also requires nearly twice the energy to produce microfiber as it does to produce a natural fiber such as cotton.

Not only are microfiber towels not recyclable, but there’s evidence that washing these towels can introduce microplastics in water.

Microplastic pollution has been detected in human blood for the first time, with scientists finding the tiny particles in almost 80% of the people tested. The discovery shows the particles can travel around the body and may lodge in organs.

Image Source: https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2019/microplastics-crisis/


Aside from being one of the most common forms of microplastic pollution, microfibers may also be among the most dangerous form of microplastic.

For More Information:

  • For a short video explanation of the microfiber problem, see the video made by The Story of Stuff.