Cotton Buds: What are the Eco Alternatives? | Ad

Pura Source eco-friendly cotton buds

Did you hear, plastic-stemmed cotton buds are being banned in the UK? Yup – it’s the next step that’s being taken by the Government in an effort to reduce unnecessary single-use plastic waste.

Thankfully, you won’t have to live a bud-less existence. Eco-friendly bud makers, like Pura Source, are here to provide an eco alternative to traditional buds. Their bamboo-stemmed cotton buds are cleaning up our environment – just like they are cleaning up our makeup mistakes and our ears!

Why Are Cotton Buds Being Banned?

The cotton-bud ban is planned to take place next year, in an effort to reduce plastic-waste from entering our waterways. This is all part of Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra)’s 25-year Environment Plan to, which I summarised earlier this year alongside revealing my ambassadorship for their Year of Green Action.

First, microbeads were banned. Now, plastic-stemmed cotton buds, alongside plastic-fibre wet wipes, plastic stirrers, and plastic straws, are planned to disappear from our shelves in 2020.

The reason these small single-use plastic items are getting the chop, ahead of things like plastic-wrap and plastic bags, is because they’re incredibly difficult to remove from waste water. This graphic by the BBC explains the process well. And after my paddle-boarding-plastic-litter-picking experience with Plastic Patrol, I can very well tell you that the level of plastic in our waterways is really, really awful.

6 of the Best Eco-Friendly Cotton Bud Alternatives

Bamboo stem cotton buds in a Pura Source box

So, in an effort to change things, I’ve been searching for the best eco-friendly cotton bud alternatives out there. So far, I’ve tried sturdy bamboo-stemmed cotton buds, slightly bendy paper-stemmed buds, and Bea Johnson‘s pinky finger technique (which I really do not recommend!)

To bring you this guide, I’ve paired up with Pura Source, the creators of what I would call the best eco-friendly cotton buds. Made using a bamboo stem, they’re sturdy, comfortable to use, and a natural swap from plastic alternatives.

Their buds come in wholly recyclable packaging – all cardboard and paper – and they also sell their buds in bulk, cutting down on carbon emissions generated from shipping.

See how they compare to the four other eco alternatives I’ve found here:

Acala*: Zero waste store’s own water-neutral cotton buds.

Bamboo Stick Masters: Organic cotton with bamboo wood stems.

Last Swab*: Reusable nylon and bio-plastic alternative to traditional buds.

MyKitCo*: Miniature buds designed for makeup, with wooden stems.

OceanSaver*: Large pack of over 600 bamboo-stemmed buds.

Pura Source: 100% natural and biodegradable bamboo cotton wool buds

Simply Gentle*: Organic cotton wool buds with paper stems

This post is sponsored by Pura Source. All views and opinions expressed remain my own. This post contains affiliate links (denoted with '*')



  1. Grace
    February 1, 2021 / 11:22 am

    Hi, is it more environmentally friendly to use the bamboo disposable cotton buds or to get a reusable one such as ‘the last swab’

    Thanks x

    • besma
      February 1, 2021 / 11:28 am

      Hi Grace, that’s a great question! As with anything reusable, it will take a number of uses before it becomes more sustainable than a disposable alternative (especially one that is made of natural materials and can biodegrade quickly, such as a bamboo cotton bud). I’ve just started using a LastSwab and it’s nice to know I won’t need to buy any more cotton buds, but I imagine it’ll take a few months before I really make an environmental saving as it’s made from plastic.

      I hope that helps!

      B x

  2. Marianne
    May 26, 2020 / 5:37 pm

    What would you say is the best ay to dispose of the bamboo biodegradable cotton buds? Flush down the loo, in the recycling bin, or in the regular waste bin?

    Thanks 🙂

    • besma
      May 27, 2020 / 12:16 pm

      Hi Marianne, that’s a great question.

      For bamboo-stem cotton buds, the best way to get rid of them is to put them in a commercial compost bin (if your council provides this service). If you don’t have that, go for the regular waste bin. Never flush cotton buds in the toilet no matter what they’re made of (or any items other than tissue really).

      While this doesn’t apply to cotton buds, another thing I always recommend is to put a recycling bin in your bathroom for any recyclable items (loo roll inners, toothpaste boxes, etc.) It makes recycling that much easier!

      B x

  3. Victoria d'Avanzo
    May 2, 2020 / 2:50 pm

    Do you know any cotton buds that are manufactured in the UK and not in China?

    • besma
      May 4, 2020 / 12:30 pm

      Hi Victoria, great question! I don’t know of any off the top of my head, but if I find some I’ll let you know (reply to this comment and add to the list)

      B x

  4. Emma @
    November 7, 2019 / 7:25 am

    Awesome initiative by the UK government. We need this everywhere!

    • November 7, 2019 / 3:23 pm

      Totally agree – and to apply to more unnecessary plastic too!

      B x

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