Single use wipes are the next product that has been brought to the general publics attention for its impact on the environment. Most of the attention seems to have been focused on baby wipes, but the single use wipe market is actually huge, according to Smithers Pira, the global wet wipe market is set to hit $20billion by 2021. Covering everything from baby wipes, to make up removal/cleansing wipes to kitchen and bathroom wipes, it is a large and varied market.
Conventional, commercial wipes are made mostly of polyester and can take up to 200 years to break down, which is crazy when you think that it has probably only been used for about 30 seconds!
If they were all just thrown in the bin, it is possible that they would have escaped such notice, but according to Water UK they are responsible for 93% of blocked UK sewage pipes, so a LOT of people are flushing them down the toilet. In April of this year (2018) 5,453 wipes were recovered from 116 square meters of the Thames. Whilst I believe that manufacturers need to take responsibility for the products that they are making, we as end users also have a responsibility, and how we dispose of the things we use has to be a big part of that. There is, at the end of the day no reason for these to end up in the sewers or the Thames.
A lot of the media I have read though on this seems to be focused on causing panic amongst parents. “Parents are on the war path” “what will we do without wet wipes!” and statements such as “Defra is encouraging innovation and working with industry to support the development of alternatives such as a wet wipe that does not contain plastic” Which is great, but is not doing a very good job of informing people that there are already alternatives! They are here, and perfectly available, and whilst things can always be improved, to give the opinion that there are no alternatives when there are, is very sad, and surely leaves people feeling a little helpless to do anything about it, when in fact they could.
For our children at home we seldom use wet wipes, its just a personal preference but I have always preferred to use organic cotton wool pads (which I do not flush) and warm water. And just use wet wipes when we are out and about.
Our favourite baby wipes are Beaming Baby. They are bio-degradable, they are certified organic and they have half the carbon footprint of other wipes. They also are incredible soft and gentle, free from harsh chemicals , they are actually pretty good at coming out of the packet one wipe at a time (how annoying is it when you are one handed and you can only seem to get 20 wipes out at once!!)
And come in fragranced or super sensitive non fragranced.
But what about other wipes?
For makeup removal then Faith in Nature have us covered with their 3in 1 face wipes. They are 99% natural and remove makeup, cleanse and moisturise in one step. They are hypoallergenic, fragrance free and made in the UK, cruelty free and vegan.
And for Kitchen and bathrooms you need look no further than Ecozones antibacterial multi surface wipes. Also 100% biodegradable, they are tough on grease, kill 99% of bacteria, alcohol free as well as cruelty free and vegan. Gently fragranced with Aloe Vera and cucumber they are a perfect alternative to other kitchen and bathroom wipes.
So no need to panic one and all (as if you were, right?!) The alternatives are already here!