Are Cotton Wool Pads Bad for the Environment?
Are Disposable Cotton Wool Pads Bad for the Environment?
The short answer is yes. Single-use cotton pads are not that eco-friendly, despite being made from cotton, and are a great candidate to switch for reusable cotton pad alternatives if you are looking at living a more sustainable lifestyle.
While many people are getting on board with the fight against single-use plastic, switching to bamboo toothbrushes and using reusable water bottles and coffee cups on a daily basis, cotton is often overlooked despite having a significant environmental impact.
Cotton may be a renewable resource, it literally grows on trees, but it also requires huge amounts of water and high levels of pesticides and fertilizers to grow. Yet the fast fashion and beauty industries seem to view it as a disposable resource, and something that it is perfectly acceptable to use and then throw away.
Why are cotton pads bad for the planet?
Cotton may be a renewable resource, unlike oil and therefore plastic, but did you know that it can take up to 20,000 litres of water to produce 1kg of cotton. 1kg of cotton is about the amount needed to make a t-shirt or about 15-20 packs of cotton rounds. Plus all that water has to come from somewhere which often means huge amounts of environmental degradation.
As well as water useage non-organic cotton uses vast amounts of chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers, which are detrimental to humans and wildlife. Using pesticides depleats the soil, pollutes local waterways and can have horrific health impacts on the people responsible for spraying the crops.
Once the cotton has been grown further chemicals are used in the process of turning it into smooth and compact cotton rounds. The bleaching and processing also means that cotton pads don’t simply biodegrade as you might imagine they would.
What are the alternatives to cotton wool pads?
So if cotton wool pads are to go the way of cotton buds and single-use plastic bags what are the alternatives?
Are makeup wipes better than cotton wool
First of all makeup wipes, the ones that come preloaded with product in little wet wipe style packets are absolutely not the answer! Just like wet wipes they are full of plastics, don’t biodegrade, block sewers and end up in rivers and oceans. Plus, even the biodegradable versions seem to come in plastic packaging. And while we get that they are convenient they are a really bad idea if you are looking at being sustainable.
Having a packet of biodegradable wipes that are not full of harmful chemicals you can use on a camping trip might be necessary but even this should not be viewed as an environmentally sustainable option for every day. Not to mention the fact that this type of wipe often just spreads the dirt around rather than effectively removing it.
Choosing organic cotton or reusable pads
Really there are two main options when you’re looking to ditch cotton wool pads.
- Accept that you want something you can throw away and choose organic cotton pads or cotton wool to minimise the negative impact.
- Choose one of a number of excellent reusable alternatives.
Read Why you should with to reusable cotton pads today