The latest beach survey results from the Marine Conservation Society revealed nearly 4,000 wet wipes were collected by volunteers during the Great British Beach Clean - a 30% rise on the previous year and a 400% rise in a decade. With an average of 80 wipes found for every mile of beach, this a serious ecological problem that is only getting worse.
The reason wet wipes are littering our coast line is due to people flushing them down the toilet rather than throwing used wipes in the bin.
What is the problem with wet wipes?
The wet wipes industry is now worth over £500million in the UK alone. They often contain plastic, meaning they do not disintegrate like toilet paper.
Used to remove make-up, replace toilet paper and apply fake tan, wet wipes that are flushed away rather than binned can cause serious problems for our sewers.
"Wet wipe use is increasing by around 15% every year"
Sewage systems aren’t designed to cope with wet wipe waste, even if the package says ‘biodegradable’ or ‘flushable’, so they can cause blockages, get tangled in machinery and when they are released into the sea they can wash up on beaches.
The use of wet wipes is increasing by around 15% each year and this rising trend is putting a serious strain on our sewers.
"A single wet wipe could take 100 years to biodegrade"
In 2014, it was revealed that over 2,000 tons of wet wipes were removed from Southern Water’s wastewater treatment works in Kent. This massive blockage shows the damage that flushing an innocent-looking wipe down the toilet can do.
Even when put into the bin, wet wipes still pose an environmental problem. Wet wipes such as baby wipes, cleansing wipes and self-tan wipes cannot be recycled or composted and as such sit in landfill sites for a very long time without biodegrading. Experts warn that a single wet wipe could take 100 years to biodegrade as they contain polyesters which are virtually indestructible.
Tips to avoid using wet wipes
To help reduce the pressure on our sewage systems and to curb the tide of wet wipes washing up on our beautiful British beaches there are several things you can do.
Alternatives to make-up wipes
If you use cleansing wipes to remove make-up and cleanse your face of impurities and grime, not only could you be damaging the environment, you could be damaging your skin as well.
Cleansing wipes contain lots of harsh irritating chemicals such as drying alcohol (ethanol), methylisothiazolinone and triclosan, that won’t do your skin any good.
Read more about cleansing to discover how to cleanse without make-up wipes.
Alternatives to antibacterial wipes
Many of us use antibacterial wipes around the house as a convenient way to give surfaces a quick clean.
But if after using them you flush them away, they only add to the problem of wet wipe litter.
If possible try to use an eco-friendly surface cleanser with reusable cloths, but if you do use wipes remember to put them in the bin rather than down the loo.
Alternatives to self tan wipes
If using wipes to apply self-tan, you can achieve a gorgeous streak-free tan using Green People’s award-winning Self Tan Lotion, the UK’s first certified organic self tan - recommended by the Beauty Director of Harper’s Bazaar Magazine.
While using a tanning wipe may be convenient, our Self Tan Lotion is just as easy to apply and delivers streak-free results. Natural DHA derived from sugar gives an amazing, glowing tan without damaging the environment.
Alternatives to baby wipes
If you use wet wipes to clean your child’s sticky fingers on-the-go, Green People has an environmentally-friendly solution that is just as quick, easy and convenient
The Organic Children Hand Foam is an alcohol-free natural foaming hand wash that doesn’t require water to give hands a thorough clean. Simply pump directly onto the hands and rub together for a quick, foamy wash that cleans grime, germs and dirt with a squirt.
Plus with up to 200 squirts in every bottle, it’s a great ‘eco buy’ for families.
Marine-friendly sun creams
By reducing the number of wet wipes we use and by disposing of the ones we do use properly, we can turn the tide on the increasing amount of litter washing up on our beautiful British beaches.
Green People continues to support the Marine Conservation Society by donating 20p from every sale of Adult's and Children's Scent Free Sun Lotion SPF30; so far we have raised over £30,000 to help save, protect and nurture threatened marine life.
If you have any questions or concerns, please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling our friendly customer care team on 01403 740350.