According to Water UK, the throwaway cleansing tissues are behind 93 per cent of blockages in UK sewers.
Many contain non-biodegradable plastic and do not break down once flushed or thrown away. This week the Government announced plans to eliminate plastic waste, saying the ban would “include single-use products like wet wipes”.
A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it is encouraging innovation so that more and more of these products can be recycled and is supporting the development of alternatives.
But what can you use instead? We’ve rounded up the worst plastic offenders and found eco-friendly swaps.
Wipes – for removing make-up or any other use – contain plastic fibres that can’t break down. Instead choose compostable versions made from bamboo fibres. Better still, remove make-up with a cleanser and flannel that can be reused.
Faith in Nature 3-in-1 Facial Wipes, £3.25 (faithinnature.co.uk) are 100 per cent biodegradable and are manufactured in the UK from sustainable forests.
When a seahorse was photographed coiled around a cotton bud last year it showed just how far those little plastic sticks can travel once you throw them away.
In a bid to cut waste, supermarket giants such as Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Tesco have banned plastic cotton buds. Wood and paper varieties are biodegradable so are kinder to the environment.
Simply Gentle Organic Cotton Buds, £2.40 (ethicalsuperstore. com) have paper stalks and come in cardboard packaging.
Glitter is one of the worst offenders when it comes to the environment and some scientists are calling for it to be banned.
The plastic particles are so tiny they can be ingested by marine life. Choose glitter made from compostable plant-based materials instead.
Ecostardust Biodegradable Glitter, £3.50 (ecostardust.com) is made from plant cellulose and won’t damage the environment.
While singe-use products may not contain plastic, the packaging can be a different story. Choose packaging made from cardboard and paper. Stores such as Lush don’t use packaging at all for many products.
Lush The Experimenter Bath Bomb, £4.50 (uk.lush.com) uses ethically sourced ingredients and comes entirely free of packaging.
Look for masks made from cotton or paper, without sheets of plastic used to separate the parts. Even better, choose a multi-use facemark in a glass container.
Yes to Cotton Paper Mask, £3.49 (look fantastic.com) is made from natural ingredients so can biodegrade.