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Yes, Cotton Is Compostable - So Why Should I Replace My Cotton Pads?


Shows cotton field with beautiful blue sky; demonstrating despite being beautiful, cotton is not sustainable as a disposable product.

^^ Beautiful right? I completely agree. Seeing something flourish naturally is gorgeous to see - but when there are viable alternatives that result in less waste, why is it the standard for most beauty routines to use something disposable?

This is not a shaming exercise. And don't get me wrong, there are certainly worse alternatives to cotton pads in your beauty routine (see face wipes - made of completely non-biodegradable plastic fibres; key in clogging sewers when wrongly flushed down the toilet...). But just because they aren't the worst option doesn't make necessarily make them a good one either. Ultimately, despite being biodegradable, (I mean yes, cotton does literally grow on trees) cotton pads are still single-use - which goes completely against any kind of sustainable lifestyle. Below, I have elaborated on why this is a problem; something in all honesty I myself hadn't fully realised till researching for this article...

It wastes water

According to the WWF, to produce just 1kg of cotton (the equivalent of one plain white tee), it requires the same amount of water that an average person drinks over three years! Madness. So imagine that in the context of a single-use cotton pad. From my experience, or rather that of my girlfriend, before finding a reusable alternative she would go through at least 20 cotton pads per week in her makeup application and removal routines. With some simple maths, that's over 1000 single-use cotton pads per year!! From one person!!

They may not be as biodegradable as you think

While cotton as a plant is biodegradable, due to the bleaching and mixing processes used to manufacture most single-use cotton pads you ultimately use on your face, they are not compostable. Lets be frank, the progression of the beauty industry left the need for these kind of disposables a long time ago, so why haven't we moved on?

Some non-recyclable packaging please...

So even though cotton itself wouldn't be the worst option when it comes to removing your makeup, it is the fact that they are ultimately single-use that makes them so harmful for the environment. Just think of what they come wrapped in...single-use plastic packaging!! For a while yet, single-use plastic will not go away but YOU can do your part to reduce your intake, by choosing reusable instead.

Check out our reusable microfibre facial cloths - our solution to the disposable problem in your beauty routine.

My interest in this topic, and consequently the reusable cloth alternatives we offer, originated from just scrolling one day through my Google discover feed. And discover I did. If you have read our story, you will know that even prior to launching ReLove, I have always been conscious of my waste (and by consequence that of anyone around me; much to their eye-rolling). So when I read that the likes of cotton, which I had never even contemplated as a non-sustainable resource, was indeed that I was pretty shocked how I had missed it. From just that article, I began to realise just how much waste must originate from cotton and facial wipes used in beauty routines across the world every day.

This is just one example of the reasons behind my drive to develop this website. To offer a product selection that is sustainable, and above all else reusable a tonne of times before you need to replace it. Changing perceptions to show people like you and I; blissfully unaware of the waste they can avoid, is just the tip of the iceberg...

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