Why Wet Wipes are Bad for the Environment & What to Do About It!
Wet wipes, friend, or foe?
Designed to be thrown away the second after they are used, wipes offer an addictive level of convenience that was pioneered in the 50’s to help KFC customers clean their hands. Finger Lickin’ not Good enough, it seems!
Since then, millions have turned to wet wipes and still do. In fact, wipes provide a quick fix to most sticky problems, but the stickiest problem of them all seems to be the wipes themselves!
So, what happens to wet wipes when you throw them away?
They either end up in a landfill, where it takes up to 100 years for them to break down, or littered, as you might have noticed on camping trips and long hikes, and finally, flushed, where they end up entering sewers and our waterways. According to a study by Water UK, wipes make up more than 90% of the material causing sewer blockages, causing major headaches for local communities and costing taxpayers their hard earned money. Don’t believe us? If you have a strong stomach, Google ‘fatberg’ and see how large and impactful these blockages can be.
Even when wet wipes manage to break down, they shed fibres and those containing plastic slowly break down into microplastics, polluting land, rivers and oceans, and entering wildlife and human food chains (fancy some wet wipe with your fish and chips?).
Flushing wet wipes down the toilet is polluting, and no-one wants to be a polluter. Not only does plastic pollution pose a huge threat to the environment but the majority of wet wipes do not break down in water, causing serious trouble to the wastewater systems as well as making their way into our oceans.
Here at Wype, we're on a mission to rid the world of the nasty rags and help people switch to a more sustainable and eco-friendlier alternative.
If you’re still not convinced, here are a few more reasons to ditch wipes:
What are wet wipes made of?
Since their heyday as helpful servants to Colonel Sanders, wipes have taken over the scene, offering disposable assistance everywhere and anywhere. It is only recently that their VIP status has been tarnished by the realization that their plastic composition lets them hang around for hundreds of years like dirty little ghosts.
The wipe industry was fast to fight back, first by blaming the users for disposing of them incorrectly, and eventually by creating new blends and compositions, including biodegradable and flushable… so what are these wipes made of, anyways?
When you flip over a pack of wet wipes, you’ll find that most of the time the ingredients listed on the back only describe the composition of the liquid soaking up the fabric, but nothing about the fabric itself. Even spending a lengthy amount of time examining the package and combing through the website of most wipe brands, the material that wipes are made of seems to be quite elusive. 100% natural fibres you say? What does that even mean? A t-shirt can also be made of 100% natural fibres, can you flush that down the toilet?
Many wipes are made up of a mix of regenerated cellulose and polypropylene, which means the cellulose fibres are there to add absorbency and softness to the plastic which provides the strength.
Thankfully for those using Wype, you need not worry about strength and moisture. Our gel is designed to sit atop the toilet paper so you can apply as much, or little, as you like. The ingredients of Wype gel are certified COSMOS Organic by the UK’s Soil Association as well as being suitable for all sensitive skin (It’s hypoallergenic). You can also be sure that it won’t break the paper, so no unexpected/unwanted surprises.
‘Flushable’ doesn’t mean flushable
What about flushable wipes then, are they really flushable, or will they be haunting your pipes too? While many wipes will claim to be flushable, water companies still insist that you don’t let anything but the 3 Ps down the drain, that’s Pee, Poo, and Paper.
With the recent introduction of the ‘Fine to Flush’ standard, there is hope that wipe manufacturers will comply to the more rigorous set of tests intended to determine how hard it is for a wipe to dissolve once it’s entered your pipes. Even when certified ‘Fine to Flush’, most brands recommend to only use one at a time, which stresses us out!
Ask your plumber and depending on whether he needs the extra business or not, he might tell you to stay clear of the flushable wipes. Ask your water company, and they will always tell you to stay clear of them.
After all, wipes are designed to sit in a package while moist without breaking down, it’s not surprising that the very same item has trouble disintegrating while travelling through your pipes!
As we say, better safe than soggy!
How many elephants to block a sewer?
And soggy you will be, with sh*t up to your ankles if another fatberg like the one that occurred in Whitechapel in 2017, that was 250 metres long and weighed like 20 elephants happens in your area! You might use one or two at a time, but wipes are the gregarious sort, and while you go on your merry way up on the surface, they’ll be putting up a remake of Dumbo in your local sewer.
The ban on wet wipes isn’t really a ban
Well, if these wipes cause so many headaches, why haven’t they been banned?
We could ask the same about cigarettes. The global wet wipe market is worth more than 20 billion, and manufacturers have 20 billion reasons to try and influence the decisions of policy makers.
Back in 2018, in what feels like centuries ago, the government announced its 25-year environment plan, and within this plan there was a pledge to “eliminate all avoidable plastic waste” including “single-use products like wet wipes”. The government, when later pushed for a more concrete roadmap backtracked saying “We have not announced plans to ban wet wipes”.
But worry not, we’re here to help by pampering your nethers so much that you will never think of wipes again. Our gel paired up with a few sheets of toilet paper is designed to break down as soon as it hits the water. We are on a mission to convince people to not believe the wipe (hype) without giving up that extra clean feeling.
Wipes are washing up on our shores and riverbeds
Surely after all you’ve read you must be giving wipes the side-eye, but if you’re still thinking about that time when they helped you out from between a rock and a hard place (let’s call it that), here’s the final course to an already stomach-churning meal.
The marine conservation society stated that during the 2021 Great British Beach Clean that for every 100 metres of UK shore approximately 25 wipes were found, and that’s not only from littering. In fact, when sewerage system is overloaded thanks to things like heavy rainfall, these overflows open up to stop the sewage from backing up into the system (and potentially into your homes and businesses) and what’s not broken down in the system, ends up on our coastlines!
So do it for your pipes, do it for your sewers, do it for your very own coastlines and beaches…For whatever reason you’re doing it, think carefully before you choose single-use items like wipes, and think again before you dispose of them.
It doesn’t take much to use old rags and sponges when cleaning the house, your hands and a soft cloth when removing makeup, a toilet brush when freshening up your loo, and when it comes to the dirtiest job of them all, Wype is there to help you stay squeaky, conscience included!
So are you ready to join the toilet revolution?
Better than wipes, and more effective and gentler than toilet paper alone. Wype’s gel formula and refillable applicator are set to replace the pack of ugly wet-wipes you’re hiding in your bathroom, as well as leaving you bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.
Designed to be good to you and to the planet (and save you a few quid when you bundle up)!
Easy squeezy. Shop the full collection here.
If you have any questions regarding how Wype is made or details regarding delivery/returns of your Wype, please consult our FAQs! If you still haven’t got your answer, please do not hesitate to get in touch and one of our team will be happy to help!