bamboo swab

Day 18: Swap Plastic Swabs for Bamboo Swabs

A small, yet important swap you can make is to start using bamboo swabs instead of plastic swabs. These single use products may seem inconsequential, but their impact adds up. An unimaginable 1.5 million disposable swabs are produced every single day. When you consider all the resources that go into producing, shipping, and packaging swabs, you see how big their impact really is. 

Why are plastic swabs bad?

Plastic swabs aren’t great for the same reason as other plastic: it ends up as more trash that could be avoided. They may seem small, but the waste adds up. 8 million metric tonnes of plastic enters our oceans on a yearly basis. Plastic swabs are adding to that number. In fact, they account for 1-6% of ocean pollution. The UK uses 13.2 billion cotton swabs every year, according to the World Wildlife Fund – that’s more than all other European countries.

bamboo swab plastic free

Where to find bamboo swabs

Ready to make the swap to bamboo? Bamboo swabs are made from 100% cotton and bamboo. That means that they are biodegradable and can be broken down naturally once disposed of. You’ll need to steer clear of swabs that are packaged in plastic. This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many companies wrap “environmentally friendly” products in plastic packaging. The Humble Co’s bamboo swabs are made from sustainably grown bamboo and are wrapped in recycled packaging that you can recycle again, no plastic involved. 

Reusable alternatives

If you want to take it a bit further, there are reusable swabs. Bamboo swabs, though better than plastic ones, are still used just once before being disposed of. Though they are compostable, fossil fuels and natural resources are still used to make it, only for it to be thrown away almost immediately. Lucky for us, there are now reusable ear swabs. They can be used up to 1,000 times and can be washed with soap and water. The case they come in is even made from corn based materials, which makes it biodegradable. The swab itself has a beaded texture to help pick up excess wax.

Remember, though it’s popular to use plastic swabs, it’s not actually their intended use. In fact, the box even says not to insert in the ear canal. If you can adjust to avoiding using them entirely, go for it! For many people, however, they are non-negotiable and useful for touching up makeup. That’s why there are other options! No matter where you’re at in your plastic free journey, swapping out plastic swabs for bamboo swabs is a small step with a big impact.

Mia Hadrill
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