Ocean Clean Wash is a campaign initiated by the Plastic Soup Foundation in 2016 in order to tackle one of the biggest sources of plastic pollution in our oceans: microfiber release from synthetic clothing.
Synthetic clothes make up to 60% of the whole clothing material used worldwide. When washed, and due to friction and washing conditions, clothes release microplastic particles that go down the drain and pass undetected through waste water treatment plants. Microfibers are also released in the air through wearing of clothes and household textiles such as curtains and carpets.
The problem of synthetic microfiber pollution is complex and of a considerable scale and switching from synthetic materials to organic materials comes with other substantial environmental costs.
Therefore, Plastic Soup Foundation decided to campaign to address this problem and involve all the players: washing machine manufacturers, fashion brands, environmental organizations, and consumers.
For over three years, the Plastic Soup Foundation was the dissemination partner on the Mermaids Life+ research program about synthetic fiber loss during machine washing. The scientific findings were published in Elsevier’s Environmental Pollution Journal on 13 December 2017 ‘Evaluation of microplastic release caused by textile washing processes of synthetic fabrics’. After the termination of the Mermaids Life+ project, the Plastic Soup Foundation launched the Ocean Clean Wash campaign with the goal of finding solutions to one of the biggest sources of plastic pollution in our oceans.
In 2016, Ocean Clean Wash gathered more than 100 supporters from around the world, including NGOs, scientists, and well-known individuals. In order to take the lead in this fight and to put pressure on the clothing industry in such a way that all stakeholders are involved.
In 2018, the campaign has taken a new direction and is determined to reduce up to 80% of microfiber emissions from synthetic clothing in the coming years by closing the loop of the fashion industry. In order to do this, stakeholders from all steps of the value chain have been asked to gather in a coalition that will explore, promote and find solutions in all the steps of the product life cycle.
The logo of the Ocean Clean Wash was designed by the famous graphic designer SIT from Amsterdam.
Achievements and events where Ocean Clean Wash was present
February 4 2019
Press release: Adidas, Nike, H&M and Zara products tested on microfiber loss during washing
“This is what you call fast fashion. It disappears in front of your eyes”, said Maria Westerbos, director of the Plastic Soup Foundation.
Read our press release for more information.
November 14 2018
“True Fashion Talks: How to Clean up a Dirty Industry” at Fashion For Good
To learn more about the role of water and plastics across the fashion industry, Fashion for Good gathered more than 100 fashion enthusiasts in Amsterdam to ask industry experts: “How to Clean up a Dirty Industry”. For more details about the event, read the report on Medium.
August 26 2018
Redirecting the campaign: Closing the loop on microfiber pollution
Ocean Clean Wash is redirecting its campaign in order to close the loop of microfiber pollution from synthetic clothes: we are tackling each step of the value chain and looking for solutions. We expect a reduction of 80% of synthetic microfiber release in the coming years.
In order to do this, we have gathered stakeholders from each stage of the product lifecycle that has shown interest in working on and promoting solutions. Together, they form the Coalition of the Willing.
June 5 2018
Microfiber Workshop in NYC
The workshop brought together up to 20 stakeholders in the fashion industry from all around the world. The parties involved in the workshop covered all steps of the value chain so as to discuss the current research on microfiber pollution from synthetic clothes and the solutions & opportunities to solve it through collaborative action.
May 24 2018
Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Annual Meeting, Vancouver
Maria Westerbos, director of the Plastic Soup Foundation, gave a presentation during SAC’s Annual Meeting in Vancouver. She presented the preliminary results of the tests of big four brands on microfiber loss from synthetic clothes. She also highlighted the gravity of the problem in terms of the health consequences of human contact with plastics as well as urging the fashion industry to take responsibility for the problems the clothes they produce cause.
March 15 2018
Sustainable textile value chain in Gothenburg, Sweden
Swedish EPA and Swedish Chemicals Agency hosted a dialogue meeting within the three-year initiative “Dialogue for a sustainable textile value chain with focus on environment and chemicals”, in Gothenburg, Sweden.
November 28 2017
Ocean Film Festival: A Wave of Change
Plastic Soup Foundation participated in the panel discussion organized during Ocean Film Festival: A Wave of Change, in Brussels, and discussed the issue of microfiber pollution from synthetic clothes. Plymouth University, Klean Kanteen and A Plastic Ocean also participated in the discussion.
November 14 2017
Panel Discussion WEAR 2017
Plastic Soup Foundation participated in the discussion and Q&A “Fashion’s Deep Water Impacts” at the Worth Ethical Apparel Roundtable Conference 2017.
September 26 2017
International Conference on Microplastic Pollution in the Mediterranean Sea
Meeting with scientific experts and discussion of the next steps in Capri, Italy, during the International Conference on Microplastic Pollution in the Mediterranean Sea. Maria Westerbos, director of the Plastic Soup Foundation, was the moderator of the discussion.
August 15 2017
Setting up a steering group
Generation of a steering group of organizations to lead the fight against microfiber pollution from synthetic clothes.
September 1 2016
IUCN Conference in Hawaii
Plastic Soup Foundation and Parley for the Oceans Form Alliance to end Plastic Microfiber Pollution Through “Ocean Clean Wash” Campaign. Dr. Sylvia Earle, worlds most famous Oceanographer, is present to support the campaign.
April 25 2016
G-Star RAW joins Ocean Clean Wash
Plastic Soup Foundation and G-Star RAW sign the Ocean Clean Wash Charter to stop the release of plastic microfibers from synthetic clothing.
April 1 2016
Launch of Ocean Clean Wash
In 2016, Plastic Soup Foundation launched Ocean Clean Wash campaign to fight against plastic pollution from synthetic clothes. We gathered more than 100 supporters from around the world, including NGOs, scientists, and well-known individuals, in order to take the lead in this fight and to put pressure on the clothing industry in such a way that all stakeholders are involved.