Cotton bud ban: Best cotton bud alternatives

Looking for the best cotton bud alternatives? The cotton bud ban in England means that cotton buds or q tips with a plastic stick were banned from sale and distribution from Thursday 1 October 2020. The ban also includes single-use plastic straws and stirrers. I spoke to the BBC in April 2018 about alternatives to plastic cotton buds. In this post, there's info about various eco-friendly cotton buds which are plastic-free and biodegradable. Green alternatives to cotton buds include paper stem cotton buds or ones with sticks made from bamboo or wood.

Eco-friendly cotton bud alternatives to plastic cotton buds

The plastic stick or stem is the biggest problem with the old cotton buds or q-tips. More environmentally-friendly non-plastic alternatives have stems made of paper or bamboo. Products such as Simply Gentle Organic Cotton Buds are 100% biodegradable. You can put them in your organic waste bin or compost. These are also made from 100% organic cotton wool, certified organic by the Soil Association. They're usually packaged in a cardboard box rather than a plastic tub which is even better for the environment.

You can buy cotton bud substitutes from eco-friendly online shops such as:

or you may prefer to buy from Amazon

What to buy

Don't flush cotton buds down the toilet

Walking along a beach on the south coast one day, I was really surprised by the number of plastic lollipop sticks in the sand. When reading the Marine Conservation Society's website months later, I realised these plastic sticks actually came from cotton buds that people had flushed down the toilet!

It's really important that we don't treat our toilets like bins. Our sewerage systems are only designed to cope with the three Ps (pee, poo and paper). Anything else should go in the bin including wet wipes and sanitary products. Even if you use biodegradable cotton buds, you are best to put them in the bin rather than flush them down the toilet.

Want more plastic-free alternatives?

Don't just stop with choosing environmentally-friendly cotton buds. If you really want to reduce your plastic consumption, why not look at changing to plastic-free toiletries. You could also take a look at eco alternatives to baby and wet wipes. A really simple change to make is to use greener alternatives to cotton wool.

You may also be interested in…

Further reading about cotton buds, plastic straws and single-use plastics ban

Update: October 2020, May 2019 / Original post: April 2018

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