Product Review : GUPPYFRIEND™ Washing Bag

As more and more people are becoming aware of the emerging environmental #microplastics issue, there are things we can do to prevent those tiny bits of plastic from contaminating the environment. The GUPPYFRIEND ™ washing bag is one of these thing.

I suggested to my mother-in-law to give me a non-material gift for my birthday. Since it was out of the question, I asked her to buy the bag in question. This consumption momentum will at least serve to buy a product that could have a beneficial impact on the planet.

Washing synthetic garments could be the largest source of primary microplastics (35%) in the ocean. Therefore it’s important to look into the problem and find solutions.

How does it work ?

The GUPPYFRIEND™ bag filters fibers released from our garment during washing. It’s simple. Put your clothes in the bag. Put the bag in the washing machine. #Microplastic fibers are captured, but the water can still go trough.

Fibers are trapped and disposed of in the trash instead of being transported to the ocean. It seems that we’re simply moving the problem from waterways to landfills. On the contrary, the idea is to limit the propagation which is much faster and widespread by water.

Research from several different sources states that the bag filters more than 90% of the fibers. Also, it reduces the amount of fiber breaking.

Stop! Micro Waste is a non-profit organization founded by the German surfing company Langbrett. I remember seeing them on a “My Green Closet” youtube video a few years ago. The organization aims to raise awareness of (micro)plastics in the ocean while doing research to offer concrete solutions. Like the GUPPYFRIEND™ washing bag.

Product review

I do not own many synthetic fibers clothes (thanks to my job at Respecterre). A  hemp / recycled polyester jacket here, an organic cotton / recycled polyester t-shirt there. Nevertheless, by combining my my wife’s and son’s wardrobe with mine, I was able to find a dozen synthetic fiber garment. Including some fleece, the fabric that sheds the most fibers.

GUPPYFRIEND ™ Washing bag size : 74 x 50 cm (29.1 x 19.7 in)

I put everything in the bag. It was bigger than I thought. Then I put the bag in the washer.

I was under the impression that fibers were going to gather all in one place. After washing, it took me a while to understand that those were all over the place inside the bag.

What can be found in the bag after washing is similar (in lesser amount) to what is regularly removed from the dryer lint filter. After scratching the inside of the bag, I was able to “harvest” a small ball of lint about 2cm in diameter.

Fibers captured by the bag

I must admit that it doesn’t really feel like making a big difference. Especially when you remove the same lint from the dryer, it seems that there’s a hundred times more. Nevertheless, the idea is to prevent these #microplastics from spreading in the water. Every day, millions of people wash their clothes. This small lint of synthetic fibers quickly becomes a huge mountain.

I have used the bag half a dozen times now. The amounts of trapped fiber varies somewhat depending on the clothes in the bag.

Fighting plastic with plastic

As one would expect, the item is packed in a recyclable cardboard box and comes with a flyer that explains the #microplastic problem related to synthetic fibers.

It seems odd that the bag itself is made of 100% polyamide (synthetic plastic fiber) whereas it is exactly this kind of #microplastics that we try to get out of the ocean. Unfortunately, it seems necessary to fight plastic with plastic. This fiber offers superior technical performance: holes that are small enough to retain fibers while letting the water through.

Made of 100% polyamide (except the zipper)

The bag is not made of recycled materials, but it is recyclable. Guppyfriend encourages people to send back the bags to them at the end of its life cycle so they can make new ones.

The symbol of globalization

Whenever I see the words “Made in China” one after the other, I can’t help but to roll my eyes  and feel annoyed. I have nothing against China, but it has become a symbol of globalization and overconsumption.

On patagonia’s website, you can clearly read “Sewn in Portugal” behind the box. Maybe that was the case at first, and then the production was outsourced to China afterwards. Just to be clear, I did not purchase the bag from Patagonia but I couldn’t find that information anywhere else. Small disappointment. Especially since, the country of origin is not displayed on the product page of neither Guppyfriend nor Patagonia. I want to know where is made the stuff i’m getting. It’s the first thing I am looking for.

I guess nothing is perfect and you have to choose your battles, but I thought it was important to talk about it because this information is not displayed properly. I understand the higher price point related to manufacturing locally (it’s kinda what we do at Respecterre). And in this case we want as much people to use the bag as possible. It makes sens to have the lowest price possible so everyone can get one. But I wanna know where it’s made and hiding it makes it worst. If “Made in China” was properly displayed on the product page, I still would have bought the bag.

In short

All in all, I am satisfied. The bag provides one of the best solutions by filtering more than 90% of #microplastics. Though I understand why the production is outsourced. I would have liked to know where the bag is made before buying it.

You can buy it directly from Guppyfriend or from Patagonia.com

Hoping that this review will help you make an informed choice in your desire to take a step further for the environment.

Other product review like this one to come. Especially on the Cora Ball.

About the author Ugo Dutil :
I grew up at the ecovillage “La Cite Ecologique”. I decided to go back and live there when I was 25 years old. I like this way of life that allows us to prioritize human relationships, sustainable developpment and personnal groth over material possessions. I’ve been working with Respecterre since 2013. Minimalism and sustainability, especially in textiles, fascinate me