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HomeTechAuthor AGGIE MACKENZIE writes that our daily habit of using wet wipes...

Author AGGIE MACKENZIE writes that our daily habit of using wet wipes has to stop


A few years ago, Irish comedian and actress Sharon Horgan wrote on Twitter that she cleaned her entire bathroom with baby wipes.

She said, How wonderful that was. And she was right.

We’re all limited by time, and there’s something truly satisfying about reaching for a box of tissues and getting a task done quickly, from cleaning around the sink to wiping a baby’s sticky fingers.

But the napkins have become almost too convenient. You can get it for anything. There are wipes specifically designed for polishing furniture, for cleaning car upholstery, for wiping windows or floors.

The beauty industry is now full of them. I am as guilty as anyone of using makeup remover wipes daily.

Wet wipes cause greasy clumps to build up in sewers, causing immeasurable costs to infrastructure and the environment

All of these were very expensive and were considered a luxury item, but because of their low prices, we have slipped into considering them an everyday purchase.

They are so ubiquitous on supermarket shelves that buying them seems completely natural.

However, like anything easy, it has become a bad habit. It’s not a bad thing for the government to step in to stop us.

The more we use it – and mindlessly throw it away or flush it – the bigger the fat mountains in our sewage systems or the plastic piles that accumulate in our oceans or landfill sites.

In 20 years time, I think we will look back in horror at how much we used them. We need to wake up, realize that it is not good, and change so that our children and grandchildren have a better future.

I’ve never used wipes to clean, and it’s not too difficult to whip out a cloth and the right cleaning product to tackle a household job.

Not having wipes wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world – we just count on them. And the sooner we relieve this addiction, the better.

The Miracle of Vinegar, by Aggie MacKenzie and Emma Marsden, is out now in paperback and retails for £8.99.

Agee says: We need to stop using wipes now for the sake of our children and grandchildren

Agee says: We need to stop using wipes now for the sake of our children and grandchildren

Claire Ellicott: Wet wipes containing toxic plastic could be banned under government plans to clean up rivers and seas.

Tougher labels could also be put in place to urge consumers not to flush single-use items down the toilet – even if they don’t contain plastic.

Ministers are expected to announce the crackdown in the coming days, The Mail on Sunday reveals.

Plastic-free wipes will not be affected by any ban, and many manufacturers have already begun to switch to more sustainable alternatives. However, the latest figures show that 90 per cent of the 11 billion wet wipes used in the UK each year contain plastic, says the Marine Conservation Society (MCS).

96% of respondents said they would support a ban on wet wipes containing plastic

96% of respondents said they would support a ban on wet wipes containing plastic

When rinsed off, all wet wipes help create clumps of grease—the mass of tissue, paper, cooking fat, and sewage that clogs sewers, pollutes rivers, and harms wildlife.

Although described by some as “good for flowing,” there are also concerns about how long it takes for the wipes to decompose.

Two years ago, ministers called for evidence on whether plastic wipes should face an outright ban.

When the results were published earlier this year, 96 percent of respondents to an official survey said they would support banning wet wipes containing plastic, although only 50 percent of manufacturers agreed.

The government’s response said: “Given the public desire to implement a ban on wet wipes containing plastic, we note that this is a course of action that will be carefully considered.”

Any stricter prohibition or labeling will be subject to consultation.

Wet wipes are believed to be responsible for 93 per cent of sewer blockages, and the cost of removal is £100m a year. Members of Parliament accused the companies of wrongly labeling their products as flammable. The MCS has advocated that wet wipes be labeled “fine for flow” only if manufacturers are able to prove they have fully broken down.

Alison Ogden Newton, of Keep Britain Tidy, said: “Wet wipes are the work of the devil. They are largely single-use plastics which, once introduced into the sewage system, via our overflows, cause no end of environmental damage.

‘They block Victorian plumbing which leads to more use of overflow pipes and even more raw sewage entering rivers and seas.

Manufacturing claims of being “compostable” or “biodegradable” have not been tested.

What we do know is that they are so destructive that they have formed huge mounds in our waterways, altering the course of rivers like the Thames. Then, the best we can hope for is for it to degrade into microplastics, causing further damage to the natural world and even entering our food chain.

“We need legislation to make it clear that it should never be thrown away.”

In 2021, Labor MP Fleur Anderson introduced a private member’s bill calling for a ban on plastic wipes. She said: The damage is devastating. Globally, 100 million animals die each year from plastic waste.

Major retailers including Boots and Tesco have banned wipes containing plastic.

The Mail on Sunday revealed earlier this year that single-use plastic plates, cups and cutlery will be banned by the end of December.

Its sister newspaper, the Daily Mail, has led the way in banning single-use items with its award-winning Turn The Tide On Plastic and Banish The Bags campaign.

In a further step, water companies could face unlimited fines for pollution. Environment Secretary Therese Coffey is expected to announce plans that ministers say will make polluters pay.

The latest Environment Agency figures showed there were 303,091 sewage leaks in 2022 – an average of 824 per day.

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