‘Switch The Stick’ Campaigners Urging Retailers To Limit The Plastic Ending Up In Our Waterways And Seas

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cotton buds by MuLaN via flickr

A Bristol-based environmental campaign group have launched 38 degrees, a national campaign urging retailers to ‘switch the stick’ and offer only paper cotton buds in place of plastic ones to reduce the levels of plastic that finish up on beaches and rivers.

Plastic cotton bud stems are the number one item of plastic, sewage-related debris on our beaches and rivers – yet UK retailers could help prevent this by switching the stick from plastic to paper – and over 60,000 people have offered their support to the cause by signing up to the campaign.

In the marine environment, plastics can be eaten by marine life, often with fatal consequences. Plastic is found in the stomachs of Loggerhead Turtles, Seabirds and many species of UK-caught fish. And pieces that don’t get eaten break down into micro-plastics, forming part of a dangerous plastic smog in our seas.

City to sea Founder Natalie commented: “People are using plastic cotton buds and flushing them down the loo – which results in the plastic washing up on our beaches and rivers, damaging the landscape and harming wildlife.

“We want to help protect our national wildlife, beaches and river ways by calling on all retailers to stop selling plastic cotton buds and swap to paper, which is much more easily broken down and less dangerous to the natural world.

“Even paper stem cotton buds shouldn’t be flushed down the loo. But if they are, they’re less likely to pass through sewage filters and will quickly biodegrade if they escape.”

Retailers are currently reviewing their policies on cotton buds (Waitrose and Johnson & Johnson plan to make the change to paper stemmed buds, and the Co-op and M&S currently sell paper-stem buds). However, more retailers need to get on board, offer cardboard products and promote them over and above plastic stemmed cotton buds.

More information about the campaign can be found here.

‘Switch the Stick’ video is available to view here.