WHAT ARE BABY WIPES ACTUALLY MADE FROM?
Most parents and carers, who actively seek to understand exactly what is in the baby wipes they use, look at the ingredients listed on their baby wipes packaging. Baby wipes are classified as cosmetics in Australia therefore manufacturers must clearly list all ingredients, in descending order of concentration on their packaging. This ensures that shoppers can check for ingredients that their babies may be allergic to, have sensitivity to or that they as parents and carers just choose to avoid.
But what about the FABRIC in their baby wipes? Currently there is no legal requirement for brands to disclose exactly what the material in each wipe is made from.
When wipes packaging use phrases like “World’s Purest”, “Simply Water” and “99.9% Water” it’s not unreasonable for parents and carers to believe that this applies to the WHOLE WIPE. That this applies to everything that they are rubbing on their baby’s skin.
The truth is that the fabric used in most baby wipes is made from AT LEAST 70% polyester, which is a form of plastic made from petroleum. The fabric used by some brands is made from 100% polyester!
So perhaps we could ask:
- How the “World’s Purest” wipe can be made from cloth containing plastic?
- Should “Simply Water” be extended to “Simply Water & Plastic”?
- Is polyester really “Better than cotton wool and water”?
Three different brands use the above statements on their baby wipes packaging and ALL of these brands make the cloth for their baby wipes with polyester.
The wipe fabric in a packet of baby wipes made from polyester can be the equivalent to 8-10 plastic bags* and can take between 20 -200 years to break down. There is nothing “Simply”, “Better” or “Pure” about that.
ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT EXPECTED TO GROW
Baby wipes are a part of modern life for busy parents and carers. They are convenient, simple to use and readily portable.
The worldwide market for wet tissues and wipes is expected to grow at a rate of 8% annually over the next five years to over $30 billion by 2024**.
That’s a lot of wipes. That’s a lot of plastic.
With the recent growth in demand for natural and organic skincare, there are now lots of natural baby wipes alternatives on the market. Most of these brands use material made from bamboo which is one of the most environmentally friendly cloth available. Some like Wotnot All Natural Baby Wipes are designed by a savvy bunch of Aussie mums, not only to use all natural ingredients on a natural fibre cloth, but also to be extra-large so that 1 wipe will do the job of 2 conventional wipes.
There are also lots of reusable baby wipes options and many of these are now made from natural fibre like bamboo. These can be used simply with warm water or a homemade cleansing solution.
CHANGE TO LABELLING REQUIREMENTS
Should there be a change in global labelling requirements for wet wipes? Should it be mandatory for manufacturers to clearly disclose on their packaging EXACTLY what the fabric in their wipes is made from?
This is the only way consumers can make a fully informed choice, so we think so.
(co-founder Wotnot Naturals)
*Based on 5g PET plastic bags