Plastic Free July - Day 23 - Wipes, Tissues and Paper Towels


There were some shocking images circulating earlier this year about wet wipes clogging up our rivers; shocking because wet wipes are supposed to go into the bin, not down the toilet.

Water UK were reported by The Week in May as saying that wet wipes “are behind 93% of blockages in UK sewers, a key element of the infamous giant obstacles known as fatbergs”, costing ratepayers in the region of £100m per year. The wipes which make it through the sewage system are ending up in the UK’s rivers in such numbers that activists claim the deposits are changing the shape of riverbeds.

On a single day last month, volunteer river cleanup group 'Thames 21' gathered 5,453 wet wipes from a section of the Thames “the size of half a tennis court”, The Guardian reports - “an increase of nearly a thousand over last year’s total”. The buildup also has deadly consequences for riverlife, as the microfibres inside the tissues can be fatal when ingested by fish." (Read full feature HERE.)

Shocking, isn't it, because we don't really think of wet wipes as containing plastic. Another everyday single-use, throwaway plastic offender! Could you consider replacing your wet wipes with cloth wipes?


If we think not just of reducing our plastic usage, but reducing our waste generally, we can consider paper towels, throwaway tissues and even toilet paper here too. It is a pretty easy swap to use cotton handkerchiefs instead of throwaway tissues. You can even cut up old shirts and T-shirts and stitch into reusable tissues. These could be used when you have a cold, and ordinary cotton hankies for everyday use when out and about. These are softer on the nose, and can just be chucked in to your washing machine as necessary.

Old tea towels, old T-shirts and pyjamas make great rags and can be used to mop up spills just as well as paper towels. They're also super useful for cleaning purposes.

I have brave friends who have even eliminated toilet paper from their homes by establishing the system of the family cloth. This basically involves having a basket of cloth wipes available by the toilet, which are then put into a bag, washed and reused. This could just be used for no 1s - even then, think of the reduction in waste. And they still have paper on offer for visitors. We have not yet implemented such a change in our household, I confess. My family look at me as if I am crazy when I mention it! Maybe we need to reinstate the humble bidet ...

What alternatives to throwaway wipes and paper have you encountered?


#breakfreefromplastic #plasticfreejuly