One of my favourite things about being in a network of other ethical bloggers is that often they’ll post about a topic I’d never even thought about. My ability to then share their posts with my audience means that everyone gets more informed, and everyone gets to see who I look to for inspiration and tips myself. Leotie Lovely is definitely one such person, I’ve shared her posts on the blog a few times before because they’re just so useful! Recently she posted about converting from using cotton buds to a more sustainable alternative; I don’t really use these myself and never really have but, as a household staple for many, I realised some of you guys may find that information super handy.

Below are her words…

Let me just say, before I get started, how ridiculous it feels to shoot cotton swabs. My husfriend took off to Geneva for a proper shoot leaving me with my battered little iphone, attempting to get a ‘cool’ shot of these biodegradable cotton swabs … the least visually inspiring thing we own.

There’s basically no way to ‘capture the essence’ of a cotton swab without lining up any available cosmetics in a ‘flat lay’, which ends up looking like the looks like an ad for a zero waste serial killer, kit – or – as I went for, displaying the buds like one of the “treasures untold” from Ariel’s trove … which ends up looking like you think the things are holy.

Our newly adopted cat was so unimpressed with the kerfuffle (s)he demanded to go outside and now, 6 hours later, has yet to return.

Though I’m sure this riveting reflection has you at the edge of your seats, I shall move on and get us back to the sustainable switch business.

Most of us have been scolded by our mothers at least once about the dangers of shoving cotton topped beauties into our drums – or read the finger waggers online warning the use of cotton swabs pushes the wax further into the ear causing various health issues.

There is very little info online, on the effects these little cotton creatures have on our planet, nor the sustainable solutions offered to rectify their wrongs. I have no stats on how many ear buds reach our landfills each year, but you can guess, based on your own personal use, what that might be … Just to get your imagination running, Unilever manufactures 25.5 billion cotton swabs under the brand Q-tip each year, and that’s only one of many brands out there.

Traditionally, Q-tips / cotton swabs / ear buds stocks are made with plastic, a byproduct of the oil industry which takes a quarter of a human lifespan to breakdown, harming all sorts of wildlife along the way. It’s an unnecessary evil which can and should be vehemently avoided. The buds themselves are made of cotton, which is biodegradable but comes at a cost. All conventional cotton from your t-shirts to your cotton swabs are grown with pesticides and huge amounts of water which pollute the cotton, the farmers, the waterways, soil, and the communities which surround the farms, causing a myriad of diseases, including cancer, nervous system issues, reproductive problems, neurological disorders, Parkinson’s disease, childhood leukemia, lymphoma, asthma and more. 

I’m all for zero waste living, but I truly believe abstinence from products we use everyday for multiple reasons isn’t always the only answer. Educating ourselves and others on sustainable solutions
and allowing each individual to choose what’s right for them, helps more. Everything ever created, eco or otherwise has an impact on the planet, so choosing the zero waste option and sticking to it is hugely beneficial to our personal mindfulness and the planet’s survival. But most of us don’t use cotton swabs for ear wax management alone, so choosing a reusable or biodegradable option is for sure a gallant step in the right direction[ZERO WASTE]
Our ear wax, or “cerumen” as it’s known in medical terms, is a mixture of natural secretions and dead skin cells. It’s meant to exist in our ears and does so to prevent water, bacteria and bugs from getting into our precious ear drums. It’s there for a reason, so leaving it to do its thing is encouraged by medical practitioners.Going zero waste should always be the first choice, whether it reduces or annihilates your need for the ethically and environmentally unfriendly product. The Zero Waste solution (and also the medical solution) to the ear wax problem is doing nothing, just leave your wax alone.

Second best to that is the ORIENTAL BAMBOO EAR PICKS or mimi kaki. They’re used all over Japan and China to scrape the wax from the ear canal. Now I haven’t used one in my ears, namely, because I read that if you’re of European (which all Caucasians are) or African decent you have a wet ear wax, while if you’re not, it will be dry and flaky. While you’re not meant to put anything in your ear, these oriental bamboo ear picks are recommended (by the Japanese Times) for people who are neither European nor African decent (all humans descend from Africa, but you know what I mean).
USA on Amazon, here.
AUSTRALIA on Fishpick, here.
FRANCE from Lamazuna, here.
UK on Amazon, here.

To get your buds biodegradable you need to be looking for 100% organic cotton or 100% bamboo. Ideally NOT packaged in plastic. Sometimes the stick / stock will be made out of recycled cardboard or paper, which will biodegrade too.
USA  from Shop Naturally, here
AUSTRALIA from Going Green Solutions, here
FRANCE from Lili Nappy, here
UK from Ethical Superstore, here.

You can read more from Leotie Lovely below: