I’m all for cleaning small cuts and grazes with mild soap and water and leaving them to heal uncovered. But sometimes further protection helps the healing process, for example when working in soil or when wearing shoes over painful blisters. In these instances, most people reach for a packet of plastic band-aids from the medicine cabinet and later toss the used band-aids in the bin. That’s if the band-aids haven’t already fallen off somewhere unnoticed like the playground or swimming pool. So, I’ve been thinking about ways to prevent this plastic waste from ending up in our environment and to avoid using the plastic in the first place.
As I always do, I asked myself “do I already have something I can use?” And of course I do. I have heaps of scrap cotton fabric that can be cut to size and either knotted around a body part or secured with a reusable rubber band, bit of surgical paper tape or biodegradable string (or cellophane tape if you have some). I could also directly apply the surgical tape without the cloth in some instances. All of these things are compostable (except the band), but I am going to wash and reuse the cloths too.
To make things easy when I have a child screaming in pain and demanding I fix the problem IMMEDIATELY, I’ve filled a jar with fabric cut to different sizes and popped in some rubber bands, a roll of surgical tape and small scissors from our first aid kit. Going through our first aid kit made me realise there is a lot in there I could use up before I ever consider buying new products. A lot of it is wrapped in plastic but surgical tape is one thing I’m pretty sure never was. However, when I looked into buying it separately from St Johns Ambulance, I found it comes in a plastic bag, so I think we’ll be using alternatives when we run out.
The other thing I already have which can be turned into a band-aid is kombucha SCOBY. Just dry it out, cut to size and apply. Check out the full process here. I found it sticks to itself really well but I’d obviously have to have a supply of dried SCOBYs stored somewhere. Kombucha Kamp says the pH of the culture inhibits the growth of harmful organisms which is a bonus. And of course, it can go in the compost after use.
So that’s solved band-aids for my family for now but I have come across two other options which may interest you. The first is using the leaves from the Lambs Ear plant which is outlined here by The Society Co. And the second is a biodegradable bandages from the Melbourne based social enterprise, Everyday Good Co. If scraps of cloth and kombucha SCOBY band-aids don’t work out for us, I will probably use this product. They sound pretty good for anyone who just wants to use a typical band-aid. After receiving an email from the company Director, Cassandra Carbone, introducing the product, I queried it’s biodegradability and she said she has certification from the supplier and that she is hoping to test it herself next year. So, these band-aids should break down into pieces within two years and then biodegrade completely in around four years. They’re also made from 15% recycled materials and the packaging is made from 100% recycled material. Lastly, fifty percent of the profits go to The Hunger Project Australia.
I’d love to hear your thoughts or if you have any more ideas for replacing plastic band-aids. Maybe you have questions about these biodegradable bandages, let me know.