The Guppy Report

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Guppyfriends

Regular readers will remember that, in an attempt to further reduce the plastic pollution that I am responsible for, I decided to buy a Guppyfriend. Basically, this is a very fine mesh bag to use in the washing machine to trap fibres from manmade fabrics. In the end, I decided to buy two of them, because a single one is not big enough to contain a full load of washing. The decision was a good one, although not for the reason I initially thought. So, what did I think of them?

Pros: The bags arrived quickly and are well-made. There’s a little cover for the zip once it’s closed. to keep it in place and ensure that it doesn’t catch on anything. The opening is large, so there’s no difficulty filling or emptying the bags. Any items that I put in the bags seem to have come out as clean as without them.

Cons: If you only have one bag and you put all your washing in it for a small load, you might find that the drum of your machine becomes unbalanced and so won’t spin (this happened once when I was testing how well they worked). By splitting your wash between bags, this is less likely to be a problem. If you accidentally turn the bag inside out and reuse it, you’ll release any trapped fibres into your wash (unlikely as you’d notice before you got this far as the zip would be on the inside). If you stuffed the bag very fully, there would not be room for the items inside to move around and get washed/rinsed properly.

In fact the issues with washing distribution are probably only going to be significant if the majority of the things you are washing contain manmade fibres. Once I started carefully sorting my wash, I realised that a lot less than half of the things we wash contain non-natural fibres. Since natural fibres are biodegradable, these items (towels, bed linen, t-shirts, skirts, tea towels, dish cloths, sweatshirts, jeans, tunics, aprons…) don’t need to go in the guppy friend and go in the machine ‘naked’… thus being entirely free to circulate as the drum rotates.

Looking inside my Guppyfriends after a couple of months of use, I can’t really see any fibres and certainly no accumulation large enough to extract. I suspect that this is because of the nature of the items I’ve been washing: nothing ‘fluffy’ (no fleeces, for example) and those rare things that are 100% manmade (eg my swimming costumes) are very tightly woven. I’m sure households less focussed on avoiding manmade fibres in the first place might have a different experience, in which case the Guppyfriends would make a huge difference.

So, overall, I think they were a worthwhile purchase. They are no trouble to use and have the potential to make a real difference to microfibre pollution until we only use natural fibres for our clothes and household linens. Oh… and they are going to be really handy when I do any wet felting in the washing machine, as they will be so much more efficient than a pillowcase for stopping the filter getting clogged up with woolly fluff. This, however, is probably not a consideration for most potential users!

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20 Comments

  1. Always interesting to hear how other people get on with this kind of thing, especially as often they’re quite expensive to try out ‘blind’. And it does influence me (depending on who is doing the recommending or otherwise) – yesterday I bought a bar of solid shampoo for the first time after reading about it on a blog, and (one wash in) I’m really pleased with it. Another plastic bottle no longer required….

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  2. Ha! and now I see that it was you who mentioned the bar shampoo! – thanks. I hope you find it encouraging to hear that you are making a difference – and because of your recommendation and my use, I will now be suggesting it to others, who may, perhaps, in turn adopt and recommend. And so it goes.

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    • Several years ago I produced a design for developing my blog and one of my aims was to increase sphere of influence. It is, therefore, always lovely to hear specific examples of this happening, so thank you for telling me. I know that I have been responsible for a number of people giving up teabags… possibly because I was so reluctant to do it myself and complained mightily about it at the time!

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  3. I think one of these would also be very useful if one was still a tissue-user. At least the fluffy white bits would be trapped in just one bag instead of all over the entire wash! There’s only one thing that bothers me. What are they made of themselves? Is it something that will biodegrade in time, or will there still be Guppyfriend bags in the bowels of the earth in 2500?

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    • They are manmade fibre, but designed to be recycled at the end of their life. The company that makes them do seem to have thought through the full life-cycle of their product and address it on their web site, which is always encouraging.

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  4. Laurie Graves

     /  January 25, 2018

    That’s great about the bags! I, too, will be looking into bar shampoo.

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    • I really like the bar shampoo that I’m using now – the first one I tried didn’t suit me, but that’s not really surprising, as we all have favourite liquid shampoos and it’s only to be expected that the solid ones would be similarly variable.

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      • Laurie Graves

         /  January 25, 2018

        Right! I just checked with a local store, and it has bar shampoo. I’ll be picking up a bar to try.

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  5. Interesting to read about guppy bags – new idea to me. Reading this has provoked a family discussion about plastic usage – very topical and necessary to save the planet!

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  6. I was expecting to see a tropical fish šŸ˜¦
    I use net bags to wash my underwired bras in just in case the wires come loose and stuff up my machine – however, they wouldn’t be fine enough to keep fibres inside. I wonder if the Guppy bags would keep the dog hair inside them when I wash out my dog blankets – nothing to do with the environment and more to do with my laundry habits but thank you for the test runs and reporting your findings.

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  7. You’ve made me look at my clothes in a different light now – but it’s recommended we wash by hand where possible, to save water, so I’ll keep these ideas for another day. In the meantime, I’m now interested in the idea of bar shampoo – going to have to see if it’s available in Cape Town anywhere…. šŸ™‚

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  8. I too thought the post was going to be about fish! The bags seem a jolly good idea.

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  9. Thank you for this helpful review. You are certainly inspiring me to make small changes and realise they add up to something. I feel I got a little complacent when council re-cycling services took off. It was one huge step forward, but once they (or rather some)plastics, paper, card, batteries etc became recyclable on my doorstep, I rather lost sight of my responsibility to reduce my intake.

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  10. Thank you for the update, they sound really good šŸ™‚

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  11. I’m curious what you do with the “stuff” that collects in the bags. Are you meant to toss the “stuff” in the trash (which seems counterproductive since it will eventually get into the ecosystem), or are you supposed to throw out the entire bag after a while? This is what stumped me when I looked into the bags after your initial post on them, especially as they seemed pretty costly for something you’d have to throw out after a while. It would be great if someone could come up with an inexpensive filter to attach to your washing machine’s outlet hose to solve the problem of the weight distribution and make keeping plastics out of the ecosystem a little more affordable. Thanks for the review!

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    • You are supposed to put it into the trash – the purpose is to stop it entering aquatic systems. If I ever manage to collect any, I may burn it in our wood-burning kettle. The bags can be recycled at the end of their life, complete with any left-over fibres.

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