Plastic Free Wipes - the dilemma facing every parent
War on Plastic - banishing plastic wipes
At Care Designs and Bibetta we are extremely keen to find ways to be more sustainable (hence our passion for quality reusable products!), and last month’s BBC programme “War On Plastic” highlighted a lot of shocking issues around the use of single use plastics, and what really happens to our recycling!
One item that was brought into focus was wipes, something that many people were unaware even contain plastic! Wipes are an essential item for many of our customers so we felt this was something we wanted to address, because, fear not, there are a variety of reusable and disposable alternatives to the average plastic containing wipe!
Here, Vaila writes about some of the options that she’s tried with her family…..
Our family and wipes
It’s tricky trying to find a balance between reducing our waste and just coping with day to day life, and one of the biggest waste culprits in our house is baby wipes. Having an 8 year old daughter with complex needs, a typically messy 5 year old and two dogs, mean that we use a LOT of wipes in our house!
I’ve gone through phases of buying wipes of all kinds (sometimes you just have to take what the nearest shop stocks!), but in the last few years I’ve settled on a combined system of washable wipes at home (most of the time!) and plastic free disposable wipes for out and about.
Re-usable and washable wipes
There are various different brands of washable wipes out there, and of course you could always create a DIY a set with old face flannels and tupperware! For ease and convenience, I went for a kit by Cheeky Wipes. The kit comes with washable wipes, essential oils and two boxes (one for clean wipes and one for used wipes). Cheeky Wipes also sell their products individually so you can top up with bits you need and they also do kits and bits for washable make-up wipes, breast pads and panty liners too!
With the kit in place, I find it really easy to slot it into our regular routine!
I like to stack my clean wipes, but you can just pop them into the fresh box more 'freestyle', then you just add some water with some of the skin calming, fresh smelling, essential oils. The 'mucky box' for the used wipes is also filled with some water and some (naturally anti-bacterial) tea tree oil and it comes with a little mesh bag that fits exactly inside, to collect the used wipes, which is then easily un-hooked and tipped into the washing machine! I tend to run the wipes in the machine on their own in a short rinse wash, then I'll add some other washing that needs a full thorough wash.
The clean wipes can then be popped straight back into the 'fresh box' still damp (although to prevent bacteria building up, it is recommended that you dry them completely from time to time)!
There is a choice of different fabrics for the wipes. I chose bamboo, as it’s really nice and soft, and great at removing everything that needs removing! In fact I find them much better at cleaning than most disposable wipes, and seem to be much kinder on the skin too, as we’re using much less Sudocrem!
I’ve also got some minky fabric wipes. They are even softer, but not quite as good for removing stubborn mess. I now keep these dry in a container on the breakfast bar and run them under a warm tap as required, for wiping face and hands at mealtimes. Basically, handy little face flannels.
Single use wipes
However I can see that washable is not for everyone, and for me, it’s certainly not suitable for all situations. At the moment, I can't see me being organised enough to use washable wipes out and about, and I don't know how you would manage on holiday without access to your own washing machine! So, some form of disposable wipes are still a necessity!
It’s not always obvious which wipes contain plastic, but there are now a number of plastic free disposable wipes available!
Some plastic free wipes are stocked by some the large supermarkets. I’ve always found it easy to get hold of Eco by Naty or Kinder by Nature by Jackson Reece in store. Mum & You, can both be bought online in boxes of 12, which helps brings the price down.
I've found them all to be really good! The plastic free wipes do feel a little different to the average wipe, and are more tricky to get out of the packet one-handed, as I guess they are not as slippery as the plastic ones! But being less slippery also makes them all the better for cleaning with!
Like most things, I'd say there needs to be a balanced approach and this combined approach seems to work well for us and helps me feel like I’ve taken a positive step to reduce our single use plastics.