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I am always on the lookout for ways to live a more sustainable lifestyle, and I recently came across the Guppyfriend Washing Bag. This is a bag designed to catch microfibres that are released when we wash our clothes.
What are microfibres?
Microfibres are small strands of plastic that are released from the synthetic materials that many of our clothes are made of. The worst culprits are acrylic, nylon and polyester. Microfibres are very small, ranging from the thickness of a hair to microscopic. Our clothes constantly release them, but even more so when we wash them because the friction increases shedding. Many of these fibres are too small to be caught by the water treatment plants, so they end up being washed away into the rivers and oceans.
These microfibres may only be small, but there is increasing evidence of the catastrophic effect they are having on the environment. They are consumed by fish and other marine life, and gradually work their way up the food chain. As well as harming nature, microfibres have even made their way into our foods and our bodies. Many of the microfibres contain toxic materials that can have negative effects on our health.
This problem is explained in more detail in this short video:
How does the Guppyfriend washing bag work?
The Guppyfriend washing bag catches the microfibres that are released from our clothes. This prevents them from being washed away into the water system. Any clothes made from synthetic materials should be placed in the Guppyfriend bag, which is zipped closed and put in the washing machine. The bag catches nearly all of the shed microfibres, whilst still allowing soap and water to get inside to clean the clothes.
After washing, these fibres can be removed from the corners of the bag where they tend to accumulate. The fibres can then be disposed of in the trash. The bag itself does not release microfibres, and it can be re-used again and again.
My experience with the Guppyfriend washing bag
I decided to order a Guppyfriend washing bag when I became aware of the problem of microfibre pollution. It arrived sustainably packaged in a compact, cardboard box with no unnecessary plastic packaging. This shows the integrity of the company with its values. The box was slightly squashed but this didn’t matter to me.
Inside the box is a leaflet that explains the microfibre problem and also describes in detail how to use the Guppyfriend bag. This is a helpful addition.
The Guppyfriend bag is white and made of sturdy polyamide. It feels durable and well made with a secure zip and I think it will last for a long time. There is a message embroidered into the top of the bag that reads, ‘Stop! Micro Waste wash & care filter. do not rinse, residues must be collected and disposed of properly’.
I tried out the bag on my very next wash. Any clothes that were made of synthetic materials, I put in the bag. Clothes made of natural materials I put loose into the washing machine. The bag worked as expected. The clothes came out perfectly clean and small clumps of fibres were caught in the top corners of the bag, above the zip. I pulled these out and put them in the bin.
There were not many fibres at first, and I have found that the number of fibres collected varies quite a bit between washes. I suppose some clothes shed more than others. It may not seem as though the bag is making a huge difference. But when you think about the number of washes you do in a year, it would add up to a lot of microfibres being saved from getting into the water system.
The bag doesn’t seem to pick up colour from darker clothes, not that it would really matter if it did. The bag dries quickly on the washing line so it can be re-used very soon without having to handle a wet bag.
After the first wash, the bag gets creased, but the website states that this does not compromise its effectiveness and the creases should not be ironed out.
Is the Guppyfriend Washing Bag worth the money?
The Guppyfriend bags are quite expensive, at £25, but I felt it was worth it because after all, the wellbeing of life on Earth is priceless. Also, the profits made from the Guppyfriend washing bag go to STOP! Micro Waste, an organisation devoted to reducing microplastic waste and educating people about it. So I feel it was a good place for my money to go. I have actually bought 5 of these bags now in total (2 for myself, 3 as gifts) and I have no regrets.
The Guppyfriend bag also supposedly helps to make your clothes last longer. This is because it reduces the friction between them when they are in the washing machine. I haven’t especially noticed this with my clothes yet, but it’s another reason why the bag is worth buying because it will save you money on buying new clothes.
A few tips
I have been using the Guppyfriend washing bag for several months now and I have picked up a few tips along the way that have helped me to get the most out of my washing bag:
- I have found that it is quite hard to get the microfibre ‘fluff’ out of the corners sometimes, especially in the corner behind the zip ‘garage’. However, you don’t have to get all of the fluff out of the bag between washes, because it will stay contained in there during the next wash.
- If you are hanging your washing bag outside to dry, make sure to do up the zip so that any remaining fluff is kept inside. This will prevent the microfibres from blowing away into the environment.
- I found that at least three-quarters of the clothes I currently own are made of synthetic materials such as polyester. I could only fit so many in my Guppyfriend bag, so I had to plan my washes carefully to make sure I had enough clothes made of natural materials to fill up the rest of the machine. To solve this, I bought a second Guppyfriend bag and I’ve found that two bags are just right for the capacity I need. So, check your clothes and depending on how many are made of natural vs. synthetic materials, you might want to consider buying two.
- When I am using the Guppyfriend bag, it sometimes unbalances the washing machine and stops it from spinning properly. I’ve found that the best solution to this is to make sure the washing machine is quite full so that the load cannot all settle on one side. As mentioned, I have two Guppyfriend bags, and if I fill them both and put them both in the machine together, it usually stays balanced. Alternatively, fill the rest of the machine up with cotton towels or other natural textiles. Sometimes, this means I need to plan my washing loads more carefully than I used to.
How else can we reduce microfibre pollution?
As well as purchasing a Guppyfriend washing bag, here are some other ways we can help to reduce microfibre pollution:
- Buy clothes made of natural materials, such as cotton and bamboo. As mentioned, the majority of clothes I already own are made of synthetic materials. In the future, I am aiming to gradually replace my clothes with ones that are made of natural materials. But for now, I want to get the most use out of the clothes I already own. Therefore, the Guppyfriend bag is a good solution for me.
- Buy Guppyfriend bags for your family and friends. They make a great sustainable gift, especially for people you feel will be receptive to the idea.
- Donate to STOP! Micro Waste. Profits from the sale of the Guppyfriend bag go to STOP! Micro Waste which is a non-profit organisation dedicated to educating people about microplastic pollution and developing solutions. If the Guppyfriend washing bag is out of your budget, you might consider donating a smaller amount directly to this organisation.
- Share this post on social media to spread the word about the Guppyfriend washing bag!
Related post: Ways to Reduce your Plastic Use
Would I recommend the Guppyfriend Washing Bag?
Absolutely! I think this is a no-brainer. I have found it so satisfying to use the Guppyfriend bag and know that I am making a difference to the environment. It’s easy and effective to use, and although it is quite expensive, I think it is an investment worth budgeting for because it will last for a long time and be beneficial to the whole planet in the long-run.