What's so bad about wipes and cotton balls?


Wipes and cotton balls are convenient, but they're "meh" for your skin and terrible for the planet. We don't want to guilt you, but the planet would be a lot healthier if we reduced our reliance on single-use disposables. Read on...

“When marine wildlife eat plastic debris like wet wipes or discarded plastic bags, it just stays in the stomach of the animals and quite often they … die of starvation.”
— The Marine Conservation Society’s Charlotte Coombes, The Guardian

  • Most disposable wipes contain plastic fibers which, over time, turn into microplastics that are harmful to marine life and the earth’s food chain.
  • Every year, we produce as much plastic as the weight of all humans on the planet! Approximately half of this plastic production is meant for a single/disposable use, such as face wipes.
  • 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean annually. Wipes make up a large and growing segment of this number.
  • A recent cleanup effort at Kamilo Point, Hawaii, counted 84,000 pieces of microplastic in 11 square feet.
  • A UK study showed that wipes are responsible for 93% of sewer blockages.
  • Disposable wipes require large amounts of preservatives like parabens and formaldehyde to prevent the growth of bacteria, viruses, mold, and fungus. These ingredients are toxic and carcinogenic to wildlife, and marine life, and humans.

The bottom line: They might seem like convenient all-in-one staples for the makeup lover but disposable wipes leave traces of toxins on the skin and cause massive harm to our oceans and the food chain.

“Cotton production also accounts for 18% of worldwide pesticide use and 25% of total insecticide use … Pesticides have been shown to not only harm the earth and its natural resources, but to also cause severe health problems like ADHD, weakened immune systems, and birth defects.”
— Amy Boone, This Tailored Life

  • Cotton is the world’s dirtiest crop due to its heavy use of pesticides. These pesticides and waste from processing wind up in our water supply, while some residue remains on the cotton itself.
  • In fact, the international non-governmental organization World Wide Fund for Nature lists inefficient and “dirty” agriculture as the world’s biggest environmental threat, with cotton as the number-one culprit.
  • Child labor is common in the worldwide cotton industry. Often, these child laborers are directly involved in cotton pesticide application, usually with no protection at all.
  • It takes 101 gallons of water to produce just one pound of cotton.
  • In the US, eight of the top 10 pesticides most commonly used in cotton production are classified as moderately to highly hazardous by the World Health Organization.
  • The Aral Sea in Central Asia, once the fourth largest lake in the world, is now virtually gone, mainly due to cotton cultivation. Now 43 million tons of pesticide-laden dust is blown into the air each year, resulting in the highest rates of throat cancer in the world. It has been called one of the planet’s worst environmental disasters by the UN.
  • While organic cotton is less toxic to the environment, it takes over twice as much water to produce than conventional cotton.
  • The class of pesticides used on cotton is one of the main suspects in the worldwide bee die-off. Pollinators such as bees play a critical role in pollinating the crops humans rely on for food.

The bottom line: Cotton may be a natural fiber, but it's rough on the planet. We shouldn't use it for disposables.



Why would we use a synthetic fabric like polyester if we care so much about the environment? Why not organic hemp? It's a long story, so we'll summarize:

  • Remember that ALL manufacturing (even manufacturing of organic fabrics) has an impact on the environment. Remember that reusables are practically always "greener" than disposables, even disposables made of something "green." An organic disposable, like organic cotton rounds, is going to be "dirtier" than almost any reusable fabric item.
  • Since our fabric works better than anything else we tried, we're hopeful it will "convert" more beauty fans away from disposables.
  • We actually did the math--because our fabric lasts years longer than any natural fabric we've found, it winds up having a fraction of the carbon footprint. Bottom line--we did the math, and our fabric is "greener" than any natural fabric because of its long life.