This Collaboration is Transforming Washing Machines

Washing your clothing is getting cleaner.

Getting clothing clean without hurting the environment.

(Evgeny Atamanenko /

Washing machines are one of the greatest inventions of the last few centuries. They have made life easier for so many people around the world. Unfortunately, washing machines also contribute to the environmental issues of energy use and microplastics seeping into the oceans. 

That is why the washing machine manufacturer, Samsung, and the environmentally conscious outdoors-wear company, Patagonia, are working together to make a change. The  collaboration began two years ago, according to Fast Company, with the goal of finding  a solution to the problem of micro plastics polluting the world’s oceans.

Strange bedfellows
For Patagonia, the issue of microplastics is one that has been on their minds for years. According to Future VVorld, though iconic, the company’s fleece jackets and pullovers release a lot of microfibers. 

“One problem for our company has been the shedding of microplastic fibers from our fleece jackets,” director of Patagonia philosophy, Vincent Stanley told FutureVVord. 

As for Samsung, Fast Company reports, new regulations throughout the world have induced a number of washing machine producers to start thinking about ways they can help reduce the number of microplastics seeping into the oceans. In France, for instance, new regulations state that all washing machines must come with microplastic reducing filters by 2025.

The problems and the solutions
There are currently. more than 14 million tons of microplastics floating around the world’s oceans, according to FutureVVord. These seep into the earth and drinking water, and are a huge concern for those invested in ecological health of the planet. 

Though people primarily think of things such as plastic bottles and fishing line when it comes to plastics in the ocean, according to Fast Company, thousands of microplastics are released down the drain with every laundry load. 

The issue is a sort of catch-22. On the one hand, in order to reduce energy costs, manufacturers strive to make their machines more efficient. In order to do so, machines use hotter water and are designed to create more friction between the clothing in the machine. However, both of these things lead to the release of more microplastics.

So, using Patagonia apparel as test cases, Samsung came up with a two-fold solution.  Future VVorld reported that the first is a technology charmingly called Ecobubbles. This technology creates a larger amount of bubbles to help the detergent more easily penetrate clothing. The second is an innovative water purifier that can filter out materials as small as 0.5 to 1 micrometer: that is to say, most microplastics.

The collaboration between Samsung and Patagonia is proof of how complex saving the environment can be. On the one hand, clothing that is constructed well and is durable are weapons in the fight against fast fashion and the millions of pounds of clothing that end up in landfills. On the other hand, the material used to make those clothing and the way they are washed can also add pollutants into the environment.

The same goes for washing machines. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. The fight against climate change requires creative thinking and learning how to attack a problem from many angles. This will certainly lead to even more strange and fruitful collaboration such as the one between Samsung and Patagonia.

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