All wet wipes to be banned over the next 25 years …. From the UK Government last week.
This statement, along with the banning of plastic straws, plastic cotton buds, drink stirrers, tampon applicators and microbeads has created quite a lot of upset with the public.
So why has the government suddenly decided to do this? It has something to do with the fact that the UK is the 2nd biggest user of wet wipes – including face wipes, baby wipes, toilet wipes etc, and they have become a great polluter of our oceans, rivers and lakes.
Theresa May has pledged to eradicate all “avoidable plastic waste” by 2042 – which I think can only be a good thing.
What many people haven’t been aware of is that a lot of commercial wet wipes are made with some amount of plastic in the material, such as polyester, which then sheds micro particles of plastic when it’s wet. This is not something that is highlighted on their packaging or ingredient listing normally.
In December 2017 Water UK published a press release which showed that recent research found that 93% of the material causing sewer blockages came from wipes. I’m horrified by this – 93%!!!
Most of this is due to people flushing away their wipes instead of disposing of them in the bin. However, even if they go in the bin many of these end up in landfill or even being dumped into the sea anyway, and if they can’t degrade or take a very long time to do so then it’s almost as bad as flushing.
So what are the alternatives for parents, carers etc, other than carrying around a wet flannel or muslin?
There are already several firms who have produced biodegradable wipes made from cotton or bamboo, which is better for the environment. But even these should be used sparingly and never flushed down the toilet.
For the face
Why not use a flannel to clean your face, or organic cotton wool pads with a cleanser?
Still need wipes? Then brands like Neal’s Yard Remedies have strong, 100% cotton facial wipes which can even be washed and reused.
The “Yes To” brand is one that I was recommended recently, and they say that they use compostable, FSC certified fabric. I haven’t spoken to the firm directly to confirm that there is no plastic in it though.
For the house
There are lots of eco brands who do fibre cloths that can be washed and reused, such as Ecozone. A lot of the supermarkets sell good alternatives now.
The main wipes I would suggest are:
Canny Mum Bamboo wipes – The Canny Mum ones are a make your own wipe – where they provide the bamboo wipes but you add your own water.
Natracare tampons are fully plastic and chemical free
I was told that Water Wipes were good, but on looking their wipes are not biodegradable so are not recommended.
From Water Wipes:
“The material in WaterWipes is made from 20% Viscose and 80% Polyester, because of this, only 20% of the wipe material is biodegradable.”
Hopefully this warning will prompt many of the other manufacturers to start researching into making their own wet wipes biodegradable otherwise we’ll need to find alternatives.
Do you have any brands that you can recommend, please add to the comments below?
And as many of my clients will know, for my reflexology sessions I use wet wipes to clean feet before treatment. I use Naty by Nature or Earth Friendly baby wipes and never flush them. I am looking at alternatives to wipes that will be within the hygiene codes.
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