A bit drastic perhaps, but there’s a whole heap of reasons to ditch the wipes now - and find some alternatives that are gentler on the purse, the planet and your baby’s precious skin.
Anyone who’s wrestled with a wriggling baby on the not-especially-clean floor of a cafe toilet, trying desperately to clean up the poo-nami in baby’s nappy while trying to keep her from escaping and the nappy contents from spreading to clothes, hands, walls, EVERYWHERE, knows well enough the blessings of a pack of easy-dispensed wipes… but are they literally costing you the earth?
What’s Wrong With Wipes?
The Harsh Chemicals They’re Made With
Most wipes have a list of synthetic ingredients as long as your arm, ingredients that have had to be manufactured in factories which, to a greater or lesser extent, are contributing to the load the earth has to bear in terms of pollution and environmental damage.
The Effect On Babies’ Skin
And those chemicals, even in so-called sensitive wipes, are often potentially-irritating or raise red flags for their use on the especially-sensitive skin of tiny babies. Most are there as preservatives, but it turns out that even wipes that are ‘fragrance-free’ actually contain irritant ingredients (such as phthalates) to mask the odd smell of the unperfumed lotion.
The Strain On Your Pocket
Baby wipes cost between 1-5p a wipe, which might not seem much but add up if you’re using several a day, day in, day out, for many years.
The Cost To The Earth
Not compostable, not recyclable, not flushable, wet wipes can take 100 years to degrade. And in between they’re clogging plumbing or ending up in landfill. Even the ones that claim to be biodegradable or flushable put a huge strain on our planet, polluting the seas with microplastics when they do start to break down.
Wipes are, I’m afraid, a huge and increasing environmental problem.
Here’s a video from Thames Water about the problem of flushing wet wipes!
So What Can A Parent Do?!
Life is hard enough as a parent of tiny people and far be it from us to make your life harder by forbidding the use of such a useful thing as baby wipes. But there are things you could try in order to reduce the impact of wipes on the earth.
- Use cotton wool or washable cloths with warm water or oil instead
- Take damp cloths or cotton wool with you in a zip-lock or waterproof bag
- Reduce impact by only using wipes when out and about
- Use water wipes rather than lotion wipes
- Dispose of them properly, not in the loo, even the ‘flushable’ ones!
- Lobby for an end to synthetic fibres in wipes
- Support endeavours to ban the flushing of wipes: see more from Friends of the Earth here.
- If you’re feeling creative: make your own with natural oil and natural body wash/ shampoo
Useful information about washable wipes from our friend, The Nappy Lady.
Chamomile Baby Oil
Especially suitable as a pure and natural alternative to a mineral baby oil, because its gorgeous, calming and deeply nourishing formula contains absolutely no petrochemicals, synthetic fragrances, colours or other additives, so it’s perfect for baby’s delicate skin.
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