We’re flushing away or binning an astonishing 11 billion wet wipes every year in the UK. Some 9.3 million of them head down the loo every day, accounting for a staggering 93% of all sewer blockages. That’s a real problem, as they can take up to 100 years to biodegrade.
Waste management specialists BusinessWaste.co.uk, are concerned about the volume of waste being created by the number of makeup wipes and says that women and men across their country need to change their ways.
“Makeup wipes are the quickest and cheapest way to remove makeup on the market, but this doesn’t mean they’re the best option for the environment,” says Mark Hall, company spokesman.
But as global sales of all wet wipes are set to hit £16 billion by 2021, it’s time to scrub away our nation’s unhealthy habits of using makeup wipes, he says.Makeup wipes contain a mix of plastic fibres such as polyester and polypropylene which prevent them from biodegrading and BusinessWaste.co.uk warns that they break down into micro-plastics and smaller fibres which will end up polluting the oceans and entering the food chain.
“With such a high number of wipes being used, there’s a lot of single-use plastic coming into the world,” says spokesperson Mark Hall, “the only way to prevent this happening is to stop using them.”
Fortunately, several brands are leading the way, such as high street store Holland & Barrett pledging to remove all wet wipes from their stores, and brand Huggies aiming to remove all plastics from their wipes in the next five years.
With many people knowing that makeup wipes are bad news for the environment, alternative ways to remove makeup are becoming increasingly popular and we’ve put together a list of inexpensive alternatives to help people cut down on makeup wipe use.
What alternatives are there?
- Try one of the many cleansers available on the market, such as micellar water, with a flannel: a bottle can last for ages, and the flannel is washable
- Invest in a washable makeup remover cloth which only needs to be run under a tap before use. It can be chucked in your washing machine when you’ve used it, which over time will be much cheaper than restocking on makeup wipes
- Use a gentle soap and some water and little bit of arm power
- Stop wearing makeup every day. This saves on wipes and saves you money! This is also the ideal lockdown solution.
A ‘fatberg’ weighing more than an African elephant in a central London trunk sewer. The disgusting 10-tonne mass of fat, grease and other “unflushable” items like wet wipes was hauled out from the sewer in Cadogan Place, Belgravia. Photo from Thames Water.