When I spent an afternoon with Elizabeth Royte in February, we talked about the toiletry items that would eventually need to replaced, hopefully with plastic-free packaging: soap, shampoo, make-up, toothpaste, etc.
The thing I most feared replacing? Q-Tips. The cotton swabs with "hundreds of uses" that most people, including me, only ever use for one thing that isn't listed anywhere on the box. You know what I'm talking about. When I purchased my current box of Q-tips about a year ago I got the small box-- all cardboard except for plastic wrapping on the outside. Of the places I looked (Duane Reade, Rite Aid and Whole Foods health section) that was the least amount of packaging in cotton swabs to be found.
It must be an addiction. I know the standard advice- don't stick anything in your ear larger than your elbow. I tried breaking the habit by substituting cotton swabs with flushing the ear canals with warm water and drying them with a corner of a towel. It didn't work. Now that I was attempting to go cold turkey on disposable plastic, my dwindling supply of Q-tips had me worried.
No longer! The next week, these arrived in the mail from Elizabeth:
She had a bunch extra from a big pack purchased without plastic packaging from a 99 cent store. Eventually I'll widen my search for plastic-free cotton swabs to NYC 99 cent stores, but I should be all set for QUITE some time. She even sent them in a re-used padded envelope (that I will re-use again) and with a note on scrap paper, what looks like part of a draft page from Bottlemania. What a fantastic souvenir! Thank you, Elizabeth!
...and now I've discovered Ms. Royte has a blog of her own, on "waste, water, whatever". Here at my little blog I document a personal and local effort to reduce plastic waste and gripe about the waste I see, without delving much into the larger issues. Well, Elizabeth Royte delves into those larger issues in a BIG way, and she writes extremely well. I encourage anyone to read her books, Garbageland and Bottlemania, and visit her blog: http://www.royte.com/blog/