A UK-based non-profit organisation that promotes environmental causes has launched a campaign aimed at making consumers more aware of how the clothes they buy might be contributing to plastic pollution.

The 'WhatsInMyWash' campaign launched by Hubbub is hoping to achieve the same amount of media exposure for textile microfibre pollution as has already been devoted to single-use plastics and wet wipes.

"The chances are that the clothes you are wearing will contain synthetic fabrics like polyester, acrylic and nylon," Hubbub says. "When washed, these fabrics shed plastic microfibres that flow down our drains and into rivers and oceans. These microfibres can end up in the food chain with studies finding their presence in food as diverse as mussels, table salt and beer. The impact on long-term public health is unknown and is the subject for a growing level of international research."

Clothing is one of the major sources of microplastic pollution with an estimated 35% of primary microplastics entering oceans from washing textiles. This is causing 16 times more plastic pollution than microbeads from cosmetics, which are now banned from products in the UK, says Hubbub.

The WhatsInMyWash campaign aims to support the growing level of collaboration between businesses, academics and NGOs, and to run engagement campaigns that help to reduce the problem based upon sound science.

"Behind the scenes, industry, NGOs and academics have started working together to find solutions," Hubbub says. "This collaboration is essential if long-lasting impactful change is to be delivered. Hubbub will work with these groups helping them to recruit more organisations to boost their impact and to communicate their findings to the public in a way that is engaging and compelling."

Hubbub's hope is that as more people become aware about the connection between fabrics and microplastics, the greater the pressure will be to address the problem.

The organisation says it will use the latest research to create campaigns encouraging people to be curious about the environmental impact of clothes, and help them play an active role in reducing microplastics.

"Research is currently at an early stage but what is clear is that taking better care of clothes and preventing them from wearing out too fast can help reduces the likelihood of microfibres shedding in the wash," it adds.