are wet wipes biodegradable
Wet Wipes: Are They Biodegradable?
Wet wipes have become an essential item in our daily lives, especially since the outbreak of COVID-19. We use them to wipe our hands clean, remove makeup, clean our kitchen counters, and even our babies' bottoms. However, the convenience they bring comes at a cost to the environment. Wet wipes are causing major problems for our planet, given their plastic composition that makes them last for years in the landfill. In recent years, the question that arises is whether wet wipes are biodegradable? In this article, we will answer this question and explain why it matters.
What Are Wet Wipes Made Of?
Wet wipes are made of a mix of materials, such as non-woven fabric, plastic fibers, and chemicals. The non-woven fabric is usually made of materials like polyester, rayon, and cotton. The plastic fibers give the wipe its strength and ability to cling. The chemicals added to the wipes might include preservatives, perfumes, and disinfectants depending on their intended use. Due to the mix of materials, it becomes difficult to determine whether wet wipes are biodegradable or not.
Let's Get Technical C What Does Biodegradable Mean?
Biodegradable materials refer to those that are capable of breaking down into natural elements. In simple terms, it means that the material can decompose naturally in the environment without releasing harmful substances. Biodegradation involves a complex process, where micro-organisms feed on the material, breaking it down into simpler and harmless substances that go back into the environment.
Are Wet Wipes Biodegradable?
The short answer is NO! Ninety-five percent of the wet wipes in the market are not biodegradable. As mentioned earlier, wet wipes contain a mix of materials, including plastics, which remain in the environment for hundreds of years without decomposing. The plastic in the wipes can cause harm to marine life and accumulate on beaches, polluting the ecosystem. These non-biodegradable wipes further contribute to the ever-growing global plastic pollution crisis.
Disposing of Wet Wipes
When disposing of wet wipes, one needs to think beyond the trash can. Wet wipes should not be discarded in the toilet. Even though some packages may indicate that they are flushable, they can lead to blockages in the sewer lines as they do not break down easily like toilet paper. When flushing wipes, they ultimately end up in the ocean or wash up on our beaches, affecting marine life and contaminating the environment. It is advised to dispose of them in the trash, but remember they are not biodegradable and may still be harmful to the environment.
Alternatives to Non-Biodegradable Wet Wipes
The good news is that there are eco-friendly alternatives to wet wipes that are biodegradable, including cotton pads, washcloths, and sponges. Another option is to swap to a reusable wet wipe that can easily be cleaned and disinfected between uses. These options may cost more upfront, but they are the eco-friendly way to go, will last longer, and result in less environmental pollution in the long run.
Wet wipes have become ubiquitous in our lives, but the convenience they bring should not come at the cost of the environment. It is essential to understand what materials are used in the production of wet wipes and how they affect the environment. While it might seem insignificant to toss wet wipes in the bin, its a habit that could cause significant environmental harm. The perfect solution is switching to environmentally friendly alternatives or reusable wipes. That way, you can maintain personal hygiene while taking care of the environment.