Microfiber Laundry Ball: Is it BS?
August 19, 2019 2:39 PM   Subscribe

I saw these microfiber laundry balls in a store recently and was intrigued. My question: Is this bullshit? Would it actually help the environment if I bought and used one, or would it just make me feel good? Non-PR sources preferred.
posted by bq to Science & Nature (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
If you look at the Cora Ball's FAQ they make a big deal out of the one independent review of the product. I tracked down the actual article mentioned by Forbes (Abstract here otherwise you'd need to go to a library) and what I noticed was it's not at ALL how it's represented.

What they say "The results: the Cora Ball is an effective solution for microfiber pollution!"

What the paper says "The Lint LUV-R captured an average of 87% of microfibers in the wash by count, compared to the Cora Ball which captured 26% by count."

So... that's weird, but it might be worth looking into the other option, the Lint LUV-R (much less cute-like-a-pineapple, much more expensive, much more of a hassle to install/manage) which does seem to actually work but is not a laundry ball.
posted by jessamyn at 3:14 PM on August 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


As an aside, another alternative is the guppy friend - there’s an article from here that mentions it, as well as the Cora ball and the lint luv-r. You can find a link to the study for guppy friend here, but note it was conducted by their production partner (prior to them agreeing to produce the bag, however).
posted by umwhat at 4:45 PM on August 19, 2019


I have one of those and it's lived in my washing machine for a year or so. I haven't noticed that it collects all that much -- and most of what it collects is my hair. I'm not convinced it's worth having.
posted by mcduff at 5:30 PM on August 19, 2019 [2 favorites]


I'm going to say to you the be thing I said to whoever asked whether it was unethical to decorate birthday parties with helium balloons :

There is a pattern in our society of focusing on individual actions to mitigate problems that are best or only addressed collectively.

If you care about contaminating your wastewater with microfibers, lobby to regulate their disposal.

Even if you were to eliminate all microfibers from your laundry wastewater, it would make so negligible a difference in the destruction of our environment overall, and even in the destruction of our environment by microfibers specifically, as to be, well, safely neglected.

Microfiber-collecting laundry balls are the environmental equivalent of looking where the light is good instead of where you dropped your keys.

You are, at best, paying for the service of relieving guilt. (I don't say this to mean that's not a reasonable service to provide or consume, only that it's not what you asked about.)
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 6:51 PM on August 19, 2019 [16 favorites]


What meaty shoe puppet said, plus: they want you to help the environment by buying more plastic. Hmm. Whatever possible benefits collecting about a third of the microfibers would do seems to be cancelled out by buying some big plastic balls. (Heh.)
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:57 AM on August 20, 2019 [1 favorite]


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