What's wrong with wet wipes?

August 31, 2018

Well, it might be easier to discuss what's right? Which is pretty much only the convenience factor.


I used to spend summers waking up bleary eyed in hot, sweaty tents at festivals to wet wipe myself semi-studiously in some vague, languorous version of a shower. But it turns out that, like anything cleverly convenient and disposable, the sheer volume of wet wipes being bought globally is endangering animals, destroying sewer systems, causing waves of waste generally calamitous for water ways.





Most wet wipe ingredient labels only display cosmetic chemicals, but their ''non-woven'' fibrous material sheet is often made of plastics like polypropylene - the is the second-most widely produced commodity plastic. This takes decades and decades to decompose, and we apparently go through about 14,000 a second in the UK. The harder the task, the more hardcore the plastic content too - so surface-wipes are slightly worse than face wipes. 




Recently, a ginormous clump of kitchen and cosmetic fat wrapped in wet wipes and nappies was found to be dangerously clogging the overburdened underground systems of London. Unlike normal paper, wet wipes are built to be more durable, and so don't break down easily and so are now making up over 90% of the gross material causing pipe blockages nationally. 




I think it's barmy how we are sold the idea through sensational marketing that we need a barrage of items to clean everything from babies butts to kitchen sides. I even saw a device that warms wet wipes so that mothers can approach a night time nappy situation without startling a sleeping child...


But most jobs can be done with much nicer make-your-own approaches. Make-up comes off ridiculously easy with coconut oil. Honestly, try it...  Surfaces can be cleaned with white vinegar. Add bicarbonate of soda to make a foam. Toilets can be cleaned with vinegar too. Add lemon for a bit of disinfectant. Natural alternatives are better all round, and you can find lots of things fresh or in glass bottles to avoid plastic pollution.


Also, good rule - don't flush wet wipes. Put them in the bin where they can at least live out their days in a landfill corner, rather than in waters or oceans. 



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