Green Living Goal #2: Cerumen! Cerumen!
Ear wax itself isn't a problem, but there is the potential for ear wax to build up and get compacted which can press against the ear drum, block the outside ear canal or cause hearing loss.
Since as long as I can remember I have been cleaning my ears daily with cotton swabs on a stick and before that I remember my parents cleaning out my ears the same way after a bath. It became a habit and in my adult life (18-30 years old), I've used approximately 4,500 cotton swabs just from cleaning my ears 1x/day. It's important to note that there have been days I've used more than 1 cotton swab on my ears, and I have definitely used cotton swabs for other purposes (cleaning, makeup removal, etc) so the number is probably a bit higher than my quick estimate, but it's a sufficient estimate for the purposes of this blog.
In just twelve years I have used at least 4,500 cotton swabs, and I am just ONE person. It is only once we look at the bigger picture and take a moment to imagine all the cotton swabs piling up in our trashcans and ending up in our landfills or littering oceans that we can see the enormity of the situation.
To get a clear idea of the waste that cotton swabs create we have to look beyond the one cotton swab we use and toss out daily as the end consumer. We must consider the raw materials used in the spindle, absorbent end(s), and the packaging and the manufacturing process of each component of the cotton swab. Then we must look at the end disposal of the product which effects our resources in a big way.
My Cerumen Solution
One of my green living goals this year is to at least minimize if not completely eliminate my use of disposable cotton swabs. While reevaluating my need for these cotton swabs, I discovered lots of eco-friendly alternatives. I could simply rinse around my lobes with warm water to clean away any excess wax. not quite there yet and (sad to say) have grown accustomed to poking things into my ear for a cleaner feeling so I looked at some other options and learned that There are bamboo swabs that are biodegradable, organic cotton swabs on wooden sticks, ear rinses, and even reusable machines that suck the wax right out of your ear. I could even make periodic trips to my doctor for professional syringing. Who knew there were so many ways to address ear wax?! Certainly not me.
After all this research on a topic I've actually come to find fascinating (please don't tell anyone), I realized that most of the options I considered didn't necessarily address my concern over the waste I was producing. There are still raw materials being use, wasteful manufacturing processes, and disposable end products for most of the solutions I mentioned above. I have decided that a stainless steel reusable ear wax removal tool is my best option as I am trying to eliminate waste byproduct from the manufacturing process, packaging waste, and the disposability of the products I use. The kit I purchased came with 6 various tools meant for cleaning out excess ear wax and I expect it will last a lifetime. I was so excited to use these nifty little ear wax removal tools packaged so conveniently in a compact case that I tried them all after my shower yesterday....all I can say is BYE BYE cotton swabs, you've been replaced. As a bonus the reusable option will save me money and time, conserve resources, and reduce my chance of injury by cotton swab while still meeting my ear wax removal needs.
Identify your personal ear wax removal needs, research your options and make a healthier, greener choice in the future. You can get the stainless steel set that I did here:
Stainless Steel Ear Wax Removal Kit
The type of ear wax you produce and it's odor is partly due to genetics. Scientists believe that they might be able to identify certain diseases through ear wax smell analysis one day!
Ear wax sometimes gets darker in color as we age.
Approximately 34 children are injured by cotton swabs daily.
Check out this link for some interesting facts about Q Tips http://mentalfloss.com/article/70937/15-swab-worthy-facts-about-q-tips
You can get my favorite reusable ear wax removal tools here
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