We Gotta Ditch the Baby Wipes

Did you know,

In the UK alone, water companies spend approximately £88 million of our customer’s money clearing something like 360,000 blockages that occur annually in the sewerage network. It is estimated that perhaps half of these blockages are avoidable and are caused by the incorrect disposal of wet wipes and other hygiene products via the toilet.

(Source: Friends of the Earth)

Flushed baby wipes have been causing a massive environmental problem locally, and within the ocean ecosystem. They create expensive clogs in city pipes called “fatbergs” and have even created an extra layer of riverbed in rivers like the Thames, disrupting the freshwater eco systems and causing major issues for wildlife in the rivers and out into the oceans. The baby wipes also create choking hazards for birds and marine life all the way down the riverways and into the oceans. Many reports are finding that even the supposedly “flushable'“ baby wipes are causing expensive and dangerous environmental issues.

For many of the even more "natural" wet wipes, there is still plastic in most, the packaging is plastic, the packaging around the packaging is often non-recyclable, each box has associated transportation and storage carbon output, not to mention how resource intensive the production of these products can be.

Wet wipes have moved beyond baby wipes and into the lifestyles of many adults. It's a 20 billion dollar industry and growing. Growing with it is the massive amount of cleanup associated with them. It's actually pretty easy to swap them -- just either stop using them like you did for most of your life, or replace them with reusable types like these flannel ones from the Life Without Plastic shop.

It can be hard to convince new parents to use reusable wipes for poo diapers, however, baby pee is largely odor and color-less, so adding these wipes can be easy-peasy. Just keep a small bag next to the changing table and in the baby bag, then toss them in with the rest of the laundry. The reusable organic flannel brands also come with the added bonus of not having unsafe chemicals or dyes being used around your or your baby’s genitals.

This set is $13.95 for 4 reusable wipes. The average family goes through 20 wipes per day, which means they'll go through a $3 pack of 80 "natural" wet wipes every 4 days. That's about $22 per month on wet wipes on the low end where 3 packs of reusable wipes will cost about $45 and last well beyond the postpartum period and can be repurposed into face wipes, rags for cleaning the house, etc. That's smart investment for your wallet and the environment!

Additionally, according to recent data, Americans use an average of 3 rolls of toilet paper per week, mostly out of non-sustainably harvested or recycled materials, most sourced from Canada’s boreal forest. Switching to reusable flannel wipes for urine can go a long way in protecting this vital natural habitat.

Will you consider helping your clients make the switch? Will you switch, too for #PlasticFreeJuly?