The plastic from cotton buds has been discovered in the stomachs of Loggerhead Turtles, Seabirds and many species of UK-caught fish
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Switch the Stick - why we need to stop buying plastic cotton buds
23rd November, 2016
A new campaign is persuading the UK's top retailers to switch from plastic to paper cotton buds. LAURA BRIGGS reports
Countless animals, birds and fish are harmed by consuming the plastic-stemmed cotton buds, often with fatal consequences
An environmental campaign group has launched a national campaign alongside 38 degrees, calling for the end of plastic cotton buds.
The campaign entitled "Switch the Stick" urges retailers to stock only paper cotton buds, rather than the plastic variety which causes so much pollution in our seas, rivers and beaches.
Countless animals, birds and fish are harmed by consuming the plastic-stemmed cotton buds, often with fatal consequences.
Environmental campaigner Natalie Fee has called for the change, and so far 60,000 have pledged their support to the cause by signing up to the campaign.
The plastic from cotton buds has been discovered in the stomachs of Loggerhead Turtles, Seabirds and many species of UK-caught fish. The bits of plastic that aren't eaten get broken down into micro-plastics - of which the dangerous effects are still unknown.
Our report on plastic pollution reaching crisis point highlighted the need for a unified approach to tackling the issue of plastic waste, and research organisation Eunomia cited the phasing out of plastic-stemmed cotton buds as one part of the solution towards cleaner oceans.
Campaign leader and City to Sea founder Natalie said: "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-stem buds, and the Co-op and Marks & Spencer 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.
Laura Briggs is the Ecologist's UK-based news reporter
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