The Bandaid Boo-Boo

Author: Rachel  Date Posted:12 July 2022 

Are Bandaids the best solution for your Boo-Boo? They’re small, comforting and part of our culture. A convenient go-to for any small wound treated at home or in hospital. But the humble bandaid has a few dirty little secrets that mean it may not be the best solution for your boo-boo.


Image: toddler sitting down with a bandaid on their kneeBarely a home, school, workplace or first aid kit would be without a bandaid.

But bandaids have a few dirty little secrets lurking under that innocent exterior that go completely overlooked, and mean the humble bandaid may not be the best solution for your boo-boo.

Did you know... it's estimated that 2,300 tons of bandaids are burned in hospitals or thrown in landfill each year just in the USA?

Why is that a problem? Because bandaids are most often made with plastic - usually PVC, polyethylene, or polyurethane. The manufacturing of plastic bandaids requires industrial chemicals and fossil fuels.

Even many fabric bandaids often contain a mix of natural and synthetic fibres, or contain latex.

Did you also know... 73% of people using bandaids have had a rash or dermatitis reaction from ongoing contact with the glue-like substance on their skin, which is usually an acrylic chemical?

So not only are bandaids most often made with unsustainable materials, they also often include irritating chemicals that stick to your skin.

Once disposed of, those non-biodegradable substances and materials go on to contaminate the environment.

When bandaids end up in the anaerobic environment of the landfill (devoid of oxygen and microbes), any organic part of the bandaids like the cotton gauze, release greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane as they very slowly break down. The plastic components never biodegrade, just degrade over hundreds of years into small microplastics, leaching chemicals in the ground, which can then get washed away.

Unfortunately, they often fall off when we are out and about - at the beach, the swimming pool, playing sports... and they end up in the environment, contributing to the tonnes of microplastics and chemical waste already polluting every corner the planet.


SO WHAT CAN YOU DO ABOUT IT (this is not medical advice)

  • Leave it uncovered! If the wound is in an area that won't get dirty or rub on clothing, and it’s not bleeding after cleaning and disinfecting it, there may be no need to cover it.
  • When using plastic bandaids, use them sparingly - only when you have to.
  • Use an ointment to cover the wound instead. We like Lucas Paw Paw ointment at our place. Vaseline also is a good option to keep the wound moist and act as a barrier to germs. Make sure you clean and disinfect the wound first with Dettol or similar.
  • Cover the disinfected wound with a washable fabric wrap like cotton, or make “charpie”, an old-fashioned method of using frayed threads or scraping lint off linen as an absorbent dressing that was used historically in hospitals, and can be made at home (not your dryer lint).
  • Grow some Lamb's Ears in the garden. The leaves from this plant have been used as wound dressing for centuries. It’s a hardy low maintenance, low growing perennial. The leaves have anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibacterial properties and are soft and absorbent. You can also make a nice healing tea from the leaves, and you get a nice garden border as well! Bonus!
  • If you're like me, and maybe you also have a 6-year-old addicted to bandaids, then you'll want a more practical solution. We use Patch bamboo bandaids in our house. They're from an Aussie company and completely home compostable, from the cardboard tube to the hypoallergenic adhesive. And they've even got cute little panda designed banaids infused with coconut oil so I can feed my daughter's daily habit guilt-free. They come in various sizes, too, and are perfect for people with sensitive skin!

If we've missed any great ideas for alternatives to bandaids, comment below and let us know your tip!


Image: Baby with hypoallergenic bamboo bandaid


Further Reading:

To learn more about the life cycle and environmental harm of plastic bandaids, click here

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