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Are Micofiber towels Eco-Friendly?

Everyone who finds cleaning cathartic knows that microfiber towels are one of life’s little pleasures. Are microfiber towels actually better for the environment? The answer is … complicated. To start to get a sense of what the most eco-friendly option is. You first have to get to know microfiber towels a little better.



What are microfibers exactly?



Anything that’s made with recyclable materials is preferable from a sustainability standpoint than something that’s not, but that’s not the only issue with microfiber towels.


Remember when there was so much buzz about microbeads and how bad they are for the environment a few years ago? Explains more: “The concern I have is that it can be produced out of PET material — polyethylene or polypropylene material — both of which are technically recyclable.



They turn into a contaminant in recycling streams. “It ruins the batch of plastics when you have an immature plastic melt where some of it is melting at a certain temperature and some is not.



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


What environmentalists are concerned with now is microfibers ending up in marine ecosystems in some streams where fish and other aquatic species end up ingesting them.”.




And while there’s no evidence that eating fish that have consumed microplastics is dangerous for humans — “The human health impacts aren’t clear,” says Miller — the fact that these microplastics are ending up in aquatic ecosystems is enough to give environmentalists pause.


So, should you throw out all your microfiber towels? Definitely not! While there’s no clear-cut “ranking” of which cleaning rags are more eco-friendly than others, Miller says there are a few things you can do to minimize the environmental impact of your microfiber towels (particularly if you already have some, since throwing them out isn’t the most sustainable choice).


Only wash your microfiber towel when you need to. “Limiting the amount of times you put it in a washer cycle will limit how much you abrade some of these fibers.



Take heart: At least they’re better for the environment than paper towels. “You can use a microfiber towel that will be reused over and over again and save you going through many. While this still isn’t a perfect choice (Gedert says there are some concerns about the resource-intensive way cotton is produced).




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