Thanks to the likes of Sir David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg, and Extinction Rebellion, 2019 has been the year of environmental awareness. It’s easier than ever to get clued up on how you can do a little bit more to help preserve the planet and it’s seriously changed the beauty routines of so many. Just like single use face wipes and tampons, plastic-stemmed cotton buds may be a super convenient, but they wreak havoc on the ocean. Now plastic cotton buds have been banned in Scotland in a bid to combat plastic pollution.
New legislation that proposed the banning of plastic-stemmed cotton buds was first brought to the Scottish parliament in Sept. 2019. Scotland is the first part of the UK to bring in the ban and it’s thought that England will follow in April 2020.
Speaking about the ban, the Scottish environment secretary said she is “proud that the Scottish government has become the first UK administration to ban plastic-stemmed cotton buds. Single-use plastic products are not only wasteful but generate unnecessary litter than blights our beautiful beaches and green spaces while threatening our wildlife on land and at sea.”
“This ban builds on work already underway to address Scotland’s throwaway culture, and we will continue to take action on other problematic items in the coming years as part of our efforts to reduce harmful plastics and single-use items, protect our environment and develop a thriving circular economy.”
In May 2019, the UK's then environment secretary Michael Gove pledged to ban plastic straws, stirrers, and cotton buds stating, “urgent and decisive action is needed to tackle plastic pollution and protect our environment. These items are often used for just a few minutes but take hundreds of years to break down, ending up in our seas and oceans and harming precious marine life.” In England it’s estimated that people use 1.8 billion plastic-stemmed cotton buds every year, according to gov.uk stats. Around 10% of cotton-buds end up flushed down the toilet and in waterways and oceans.
The policy change in Scotland has been welcomed by conservation and climate change groups. Catherine Gemmell, the conservation officer from the Marine Conservation Society told the Independent that the development was a big step forward. She said, “We look forward to more ambitious action from the Scottish government and to working with them on future actions needed to stop the plastic tide.”
Not only is the policy change in Scotland a big win for cutting down on single-use plastic it may do your ear health a world of good. While it might be incredibly satisfying cleaning out your ear with a cotton bud, it can cause serious issues. As Tinnitus.org explains, if you have a build up of wax, cotton buds can often push it further down the canal. Plus, "cotton buds can also irritate the ear canal, stripping it of its natural oils and causing it to feel itchy." If you're having problems with your ears, it's probably best to consult your GP and find out what options are available to you.