Sometimes I wonder how I ever survived before flushable wipes. Their versatility is just out of this world. The fact that I can use them to quickly wipe off my makeup or even wipe my sticky fingers after a meal is just amazing to me.
However, like many sustainability geeks, I often wonder if I can compost them. And after a lot of research, I finally got some answers. So if you’ve also been curious about this, scoot closer, I am here to share them.
Are flushable wipes compostable?
No, you can’t compost flushable wipes. No matter what you use them for, it is a bad idea to add them to your compost heap, even if they are labeled biodegradable.
Why can’t you compost flushable wipes?
There are several reasons you can’t compost flushable wipes.
First of all, they sometimes have synthetic fibers that can’t break down and decompose. So if you put them in your compost heap, they will just break up into tiny pieces and tarnish your soil.
Secondly, the substances you use your wipes to clean up can cause some unforeseen problems. For instance, paint or engine oil would be harmful to the environment while dairy products could attract rats. On the other hand, strong anti-bacterial products like bleach would kill all the friendly bacteria you need in your compost.
Another reason you shouldn’t compost flushable wipes is that they are usually doused with a variety of chemicals. They could have detergents, perfumes, moisturizing lotions, or even isopropyl alcohol. This is why these wipes are usually “wet”.
And while this is all good when you’re wiping your hands, it is not a good addition to your compost heap. They may disrupt your compost’s microbes or cause other unforeseen problems.
Should you flush your flushable wipes?
Even when wipes are labeled as “flushable”, they can still cause sewerage problems. In fact, in 2018 alone, New York’s City’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) had to get rid of 2,100 fatbergs; large solid waste masses made from sanitary items and cooking fats. Interestingly, a whopping 90% of which were attributed to flushable wipes.
This was an endeavor that cost the department around $19 million. And even in Canada, this is still an issue. In one study, over 100 Canadian flushable wipes were tested for flushability and none of them passed. Needless to say, many manufacturers are claiming that their wipes are flushable simply because no one is placing strict restrictions on them.
How should you get rid of your flushable wipes?
Ultimately, the best way to get rid of flushable wipes is to throw them in the trash. They can neither be recycled nor just thrown around aimlessly.
Look elsewhere for compost
If you are really looking for wipes that you can compost, you should get reusable cotton ones. After using them for the whole extent of their lifespans, just toss them into your compost heap and you’re good to go. These are hands-down the best option for anyone looking to reduce their carbon footprint.