Why Cotton Swabs Should Be Something of the Past

Oct, 23, 2017

By Fredrica Syren:
It’s a sad fact that humans already have added more than 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic to the ocean. For lots of people, though, it’s hard to connect how our daily habits might be adding to this huge amount of plastic. Ok, so we already have heard lots about why we should not use beauty products with micro plastics in them, and we surely have heard about how we should avoid plastic bags. But how about cotton swabs?
For many, cotton swabs are a must as part of their daily routines. This tiny piece of plastic might not be at the front of the line of major plastic pollution, but it surely has an impact that is totally unnecessary. And it’s a fact that cotton swabs are not even that good for our health. Earwax is in our ears for a reason, so trying to remove it with a cotton swab may endanger your ear. You may run the risk of pushing the earwax further in or, worse case, break your ear drum. If you have a problem with lots of earwax, a visit to your doctor, who can safely remove the wax, might be a better option.
A picture of a seahorse with its tail wrapped around a cotton swab, taken by California-based nature photographer Justin Hofman, has been in circulation all over social media. It’s cute, but it is mostly disturbing, as the normal, healthy thing a seahorse should be wrapping its little tail around is seaweed.
Cotton swabs, as small as they might be, are yet another darned plastic pollutant in our ocean that is interfering with this delicate ecosystem. It’s hard to miss all the images of plastic waste in our oceans displayed on social media and the internet — birds that died from eating plastic, and sea turtles entangled in plastic that is floating around. It’s also hard to miss all the news about the dangers of chemicals such as BPA in plastic, which is in all our food packages and kids’ items. Reading about this and seeing the pictures should spur concern in us and make us all take a stand against plastic. Let’s get one thing straight: plastic is dangerous because it negatively impacts our health, our environment and our economy.

Fredrika Syren

Fredrika Syren is an environmental activist and writer. In 2016, she founded the website Green-Mom.com where she shared her family’s journey of living zero waste. She lives in San Diego, California with her husband James and their children Bella, Noah, and Liam. Fredrika and her family were recently featured in the documentary Zero Time to Waste. Fredrika is also the author of Zero Waste for Families - A Practical Guidebook (which you can buy on this site)

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