Alternatives to plastic cotton buds

Plastic cotton buds

We live in a fast-changing era where the use of plastic became a significant problem. Companies across the world are improving their work ethic, slowly becoming greener, more aware of their products’ impact on the environment. More and more money is spent to support sustainability and lower the carbon footprint.

Ban on plastic cotton buds

In Europe and across the other continents, governments decided to act on their environmental pledges and reduce plastic waste. Thus the first on the banned list became the drinking straws, the plastic cotton buds, the coffee/tea stirrers, and glitter.

Plastic waste on the beach

On the 1st of October 2020, the UK government published the ban on plastic-stemmed cotton buds among plastic straws and stirrers.

Plastic-stemmed cotton buds are a staple item in every household. They are used for :

  • Cosmetic purposes (makeup retouches, correcting nail varnish mistakes)
  • To clean the ears
  • Cleaning household surfaces (hard to access areas like the ones behind the taps)
  • Cleaning keyboards

After their use, these everyday items end up in the bin, and in plenty of cases, down the toilet. When entering the sewage system, they quickly pass through the treatment systems and end up in the rivers, the sea or washed up on the banks. The plastic releases toxic chemicals that can affect living sea creatures and humans as well.

The decision to stop plastic waste led to the development of eco-friendly products to replace plastic alternatives.

Plastic cotton buds - plastic waste

Plastic-free cotton buds

Manufacturers replaced the plastic stem for this type of cotton buds with other materials:

  • Bamboo
  • Wood
  • Paper 

Using these materials to manufacture the stem for the buds led to these alternatives to plastic cotton buds:

The stem is made from bamboo wood, while the buds are made with organic cotton. As a result, the whole swab is entirely eco-friendly as both materials are biodegradable.

  • Paper cotton buds

These cotton buds have recycled cardboard (paper) stem.

  • Cotton buds with wooden stems

Depending on the manufacturers and the way they source their materials, bamboo wood is replaced with another sustainable type of wood to design these swabs.

  • Reusable cotton buds (using less plastic, can be used multiple times)

In Denmark, a company manufactures cotton buds with plastic stems that leave less than 0.1 % residue when disposed of. They created a product that can be used multiple times, thus becoming an alternative to the banned plastic cotton buds.

Plastic-free cotton buds

How to dispose of bamboo/paper and reusable cotton buds

Sustainability is not only related to the materials used to replace the ones that damage our environment. It needs to apply to the way users behave with these new products, especially on the way these are disposed of.

All cotton buds, regardless of the type of stem used, need to be placed in a bin and never flushed down the toilet or thrown in the sink. Although they are biodegradable, this process takes time, and everyone needs to avoid adding extra waste in the sewage, protecting our waters across the globe.

Where to buy non-plastic cotton buds

All these alternatives to plastic cotton buds can be found on the market today at very competitive prices for both quality and sustainability. You can buy online from manufacturers, beauty shop websites, Amazon,eBay, or Walmart.

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