Disability hygiene and the environment. #EarthDay

A little thought about environmental problem is the amount of plastic and wood pulp waste that goes into essential continence and disability related hygiene products.

Two of the biggest culprits are wipes and continence pads. For many disabled people, you can not help but use these products.

Yet most carry information that they are not biodegradable/ recyclable or can’t be macerated. Millions of waterproof pull ups, chair and bed pads and generic flat pads are filling up land fill. Not only does the plastic sit there for years but the wood pulp that is often used as a filler may be using none sustainable wood sources and some contain a chemical gel to retain moisture. Those that use cotton can be hugely expensive and how do you know where the cotton was from. The last thing I want to contribute to is cotton trade enslavement.

We hear about baby nappy waste and sanitary products … but I can’t find any health companies who make products that promotes a healthier planet in the continence market.

I feel bad that I contribute over 200 chair pads and hundreds of wipes (for body washing) each year. None are biodegradable etc. The other thing is packaging – I used to buy packs of 40 chair pads in one plastic wrapper. Then the manufacturers switched to individually packing bundles of 15. The amount of plastic has significantly increased rather than decreased. This is crazy.

So how can disabled people go about damage limitation?

Well, washable continence products are not that useful – it’s not just a teaspoon of fluid or waste you may need to retain! Sanitary towel substitutes using fabric might be fine for periods but not urine or faeces. Plus, washing things constantly at high temperatures is not exactly earth friendly neither and the chemical residues from washing liquids and perfumes can damage already injured skin in those most sensitive areas.

Instead of wipes (for generic washing) I’ve switched to bamboo ‘nappy’ liners. Sadly though they are 5x the price of incontinence/body wipes and with the cost of living already being so high for disabled people, this is not always financially viable. Not many people understand that some disabled people can not use flannels/fabric cloths because of painful, sensitive or damaged skin. It’s another disability related cost we have to soak up.

Instead of wipes or toilet roll after using the loo, I have a wash/dry bidet so that’s good. It could be argued that water usage goes up but I think it’s better overall (both for health , comfort and avoiding paper/wipes).

So … how do you feel about these issues?


  1. Thanks for your insight into this

  2. AnneMarie says:

    It is an area that is never spoken if, toilet needs of the disabled. The uneco provenance of goods is another. My black bin contents majority is gloves, masks, aprons. Depending where I’m sitting it can include pads and wipes. I’ve tried sourcing degradable wipes, baby wipes, but everything medical is still single use disposable. I’d be happy to keep a separate bin if it could be collected and incinerated like hospital waste. 🤷‍♀️.

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