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The current state of plastic pollution gives a grim outlook of the health of our planet. Plastic debris in the ocean affect not just the waterways but also the hundreds of marine life species that consider them home. What’s particularly concerning is that plastic introduces toxins into the food chain. Plastic pollution not only destroys the environment, but it also endangers our health.
As consumers of plastic products, we are part of the big problem. As long as there is a huge demand for plastic products, manufacturers will continue to supply them. But it’s not all doom and gloom because there are now concerted efforts to stem the flow of plastic from land to sea to address the issue through environmental laws and policies.
The growing awareness of plastic pollution gives rise to hordes of eco-conscious consumers looking for plastic-free and tree-free products. For people to start using less plastic products, they have to find sustainable and biodegradable products as alternatives. Even small changes in purchase and consumption patterns can make a difference when large groups of people do it—even a simple switch from plastic-stemmed cotton buds to bamboo Q-tips.
Plastic Stemmed Cotton Buds
Cotton swabs have been around since the 1920s. The first Q-tips were made of cotton wool wrapped around both ends of a short wooden stick. They were originally marketed to clean babies’ ears but quickly became an all-purpose cleaning tool used in removing makeup, applying cream, cleaning small objects, and in making arts and crafts.
With technological advancements, the cotton buds applicator were changed from wooden stick to bonded paper and paperboard to plastic. Different brands use different materials for their applicator. The bonded paper variety is biodegradable when composted. Leading brands maintain that the paper materials used are sustainably sourced but it does not take away the fact that trees are used in the manufacture of cotton bud sticks. Even if they plant trees to replace what they have cut down, it will still take decades for the trees to grow. By then, the forests would have lost most of the trees.
Plastic-stemmed cotton buds entered the picture but they are clearly not an eco-friendly alternative to the paper sticks. In fact, they bring more harm to the environment because they are single-use plastics that are being flushed down into the toilet.
The high usage of plastic cotton buds, combined with improper disposal practices, has led to the pollution of marine environment. Since they are non-biodegradable, they end up littering coastlines which are accidentally ingested by marine animals. It takes many years for plastic to break down into microplastics which are toxic to wildlife.
Plastic-free and tree-free product advocates are helping to increase the consumers’ awareness of the negative effects of plastic use. Efforts have been made to use biodegradable, recyclable, or reusable materials in consumer products. Big consumer products companies are replacing the plastic in the cotton buds with materials that are more environment-friendly. Some European countries have banned or are in the process of banning plastic cotton buds to help curb plastic pollution.
While paper-based cotton buds are biodegradable and less harmful to the environment, they are still reliant on trees. Although manufacturers claim that they are using sustainable practices in acquiring raw materials for their cotton buds production, they are still using trees which are fast depleting due to commercial use.
Other companies have found a more sustainable material to replace plastic and paper cotton buds. Bamboo emerges as the most suitable alternative because it is 100% biodegradable, all-natural, and most of all, sustainable. Hence, bamboo Q-tips help address the problem of over-reliance on trees and plastic materials.
Why is bamboo a sustainable alternative?
Unlike trees that take more than 30 years to grow, bamboo matures in 3 to 5 years and are ready for harvest in just a short span of time. Some bamboo species even grow up to 4 feet every 24 hours. This means that there will always be an abundant supply of bamboo even if they are used commercially. Unlike trees, harvesting does not kill the bamboo plant, which means there’s little to no topsoil erosion.
Bamboo is also biodegradable which is perfect for single-use products such as the bamboo Q-tips. Even if you dispose of the bamboo stick, it will decompose and not leave any harmful remnants that can endanger animals. Also, people are most likely not flush the bamboo cotton buds into the toilet because it is durable and can obviously clog the toilet system. There’s less compulsion to throw a hardier material than plastic or paper stick down the toilet bowl.
As a consumer who cares about the environment, you’d want to support products and companies that provide solutions to the increasing problem of deforestation and plastic pollution. The desire to change is the first step in making this planet a much better place where humans and wildlife can thrive and co-exist in a cleaner environment.
Switching to bamboo Q-tips not only reduces plastic usage, but it also helps reduce our over-reliance on trees for paper products and materials. This is a small but significant way to help ease the plastic pollution and at the same time save the trees and the forests.
Responsibly Made Bamboo Products
Bamboo cotton bud is just one of several bamboo products that are available for consumers to try. It would be difficult to break old habits or change consumer behaviour, but if consumers see that the alternative product helps in reducing their carbon footprint and are saving the environment, they will quickly jump-ship and not look back.
Sustainably and responsibly made bamboo products like bamboo cotton swabs, bamboo straws, bamboo dental floss, and bamboo facial pads, among others, are helping save the planet in small but dramatic ways.
Even in the building and construction industry, bamboo is now being extensively used to build floorings, partitions, and walls. With more research and advancement in technology, there will be more bamboo products that will be introduced to a wider market. If everyone is on-board this eco-friendly effort, then the future will not be so bleak after all.