Sustainable Alternatives: Cotton Swabs

Updated: Dec 22, 2018


PHOTO: JUSTIN HOFMAN

It's one of those items we don't usually think too much about. That tiny little piece of plastic couldn't make that much of a difference, could it? Then this photo changed it all. Photographer Justin Hofman captured an image of a seahorse he stumbled upon in Sumbawa, Indonesia clinging to a cotton swab. It quickly went viral, shocking and saddening people around the world, many who hadn't yet realized how out of control our plastic habit has become. The truth is millions of these plastic cotton swabs are flushed down the toilet after being used every week! They're small enough to fit through sewage filters and end up in our oceans, endangering wildlife, entering the food chain, and sometimes even ending up in our seafood!

Thankfully, there is an easy alternative for this particular plastic habit! A number of brands have presented sustainable alternatives to this single-use item and groups like City To Sea have been fighting to get more to make the switch, converting Aldi, Asda, Boots, Lidl, Morrisons, Sainsburys, Superdrug, Tesco and Wilkinsons in 2016 with their campaign #SwitchTheStick! We particularly like Organyc's Cotton Swabs which are made with certified organic cotton while the stick is made of recyclable cardboard. Their packaging is also made from recyclable and biodegradable materials. If you're in the UK, we also really like the HYDROPHIL brand (a vegan, water neutral, and fair company) bamboo stick cotton swab which can be purchased online and shipped with eco-friendly minimal packaging at The Kind Store.