Helping to End Plastic Soup

Did you know that every time you use your washing machine, thousands of microplastic fibres too small to be caught by its filters flow into the sewage system and eventually into the ocean?

Or that these tiny particles, shed from synthetic clothes when laundered, are readily ingested by aquatic life, filling up their stomachs which can eventually lead to death?

With fish, crab, shrimp and birds all having been recorded as ingesting microfibres, it’s also known that they’re ending up in the food we eat, although the long-term effects of this are yet to be made clear…

According to the End Plastic Soup campaign action pack published by the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, over 36 billion loads of clothes are washed across Europe every year. And, depending on the type of fabric those clothes are made from, the numbers of microplastic fibres released from a single load of washing are nothing short of mind-boggling :

  • 137,951 fibres released from polyester-cotton blend
  • 496,030 fibres released from polyester fabric
  • 728,789 fibres released from acrylic fabric

The End Plastic Soup campaign isn’t asking for synthetic clothing to be banned but calls on the government and industry to research and develop innovative solutions to the problem. It also offers a list of simple ways in which everyone can help make a difference by taking action at home, based on the EU Mermaids Ocean Clean Wash research project…

  • Wash less: Only wash clothes when they need it. Items that are not worn close to the skin often do not need washing after just one wear – this will also prolong the life of your clothes.
  • Fill up your washing machine to the max: Washing a full load results in less friction between the clothes and so less fibres are released.
  • Use liquid detergent rather than powder: The ‘scrub’ action of the powder grains loosens fibres more than liquid.
  • Wash at low temperature; When clothes are washed at high temperature some fabrics are damaged, resulting in the release of fibres.
  • Cleaning the dryer: Do not flush the lint down the drain, throw it in the bin.
  • Avoid long washing cycles: Long periods of washing cause more friction between fabrics, which can result in more tearing of the fibres
  • Detergent: Avoid using detergents with a high pH level and oxidising agents

Find out more about the scale of ocean plastic waste and how it’s entering the food chain in this Sky documentary…


Much more than just jam and Jerusalem

The first Nottinghamshire WI was formed in Southwell on Thursday 14 June 1917, when 45 ladies met to hear a talk on wartime cookery…

Now, as the Nottinghamshire Federation celebrates its centenary, there are 118 WI groups across the county, with over 4000 members. And, although baking and other traditional skills are still popular topics at their meetings, things have changed a lot over the last 100 years. Even Jerusalem – the WI’s anthem – is available as an iTunes download these days!

On this week’s show, Federation chairman Jane Jefferson joins the Girls Around Town to talk about some of those changes. There’ll be details of how the WI is making a real difference through its involvement in major national campaigns, helping to raise awareness of key issues such as low staffing levels on labour wards, the gender pay gap and the health and social implications of loneliness.

She’ll have news too of some of the ways members have celebrated the centenary so far, what’s planned for the next few months and, with any luck, she might be persuaded to share a recipe or two from the Federation’s brand new cookery book, which was published at the end of September…

If you thought the WI was just jam and Jerusalem, think again! Tune in or listen online between 10am and 12 noon on Sunday, when June and Tina find out more about what the WI gets up to both locally and nationally – and how you can get involved by joining a group near you.