Q-tips—the cotton swabs people use to clean various body nooks and crannies—are harming marine life.
Scotland tackles its Q-tip problem
Scotland isn’t the only country in the UK that’s developed a plastic Q-tip pollution problem. But it is the first country to ban the tiny plastic cotton buds.
Most cotton buds sold in Scotland have a paper handle. But some imported Q-tips with plastic handles are still sold in small corner stores.
The reason behind the plastic ban
Scotland’s remaining plastic cotton swabs were banned because people have a tendency to flush them down their toilet after using them. When flushed, the plastic cotton buds end up washing up on shorelines and beaches.
“Despite various campaigns, people are continuing to flush litter down their toilets and this has to stop,” says Roseanna Cunningham, Scotland’s environment secretary.
“Scotland’s sewerage infrastructure collects and treats some 945m litres of waste water each day. These systems are not designed to remove small plastic items such as plastic buds. [Buds]… can kill marine animals and birds that swallow them.”
In addition to saving various animals who could eat the plastic cotton buds, the ban also will cut Scotland’s plastic pollution in half.
Moving the plastic ban past Scotland
If this plastic ban works, countless animals will benefit, and plastic pollution will drop. So, why not expand this ban?
Thankfully, environmentalists in Scotland are already plotting how to make the “Q-tip” plastic ban bigger.
“Following the plastic bag charge and the announcement of a deposit and return scheme for [beverage] bottles and cans, this is another good step on the way to a society which uses resources more sensibly,” says Dr. Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland. “We look forward to further initiatives when the government’s promised new group on single-use plastic containers, such as coffee cups, reports its work.”
Obviously, we’re behind this ban, and similar plastic bans. After all, things, such as plastic Q-tips, plastic cutlery, etc. are relatively useless and do more harm than good.