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Are Band-Aids Sustainable? Why to Switch to Compostable Bandages

Even Band-Aids are made of plastic. Here's why most bandages aren't planet-friendly, plus biodegradable and compostable alternatives to try.

are band aids sustainable
Written by
Angelica Pizza
Published
One of the best parts of going to the doctor as a kid was the themed Band-Aid you got after getting a shot. (The shot itself? Not so fun.) Even though many of us have grown out of the cartoon characters and fun patterns, adults aren't immune to boo-boos—we still use bandages all the time.
Whether you have a paper cut or you're trying to prevent blisters on your ankles, Band-Aids are your go-to. When we're done with them, we simply
toss them
in the trash without a second thought. But even though they help your injuries heal, they're not healing the planet. Most options on store shelves contain materials that are anything but eco-friendly.
Here's everything you need to know about the environmental impact of bandages and where to find
sustainable swaps
.

Are Band-Aids Eco-Friendly?

sustainable band aids
Most adhesive bandages are made of either plastic or a soft, flexible fabric with a cotton square that's meant to cover your wounds. The underside of the adhesive strip contains a glue-like substance, usually an acrylic chemical, to ensure it sticks to your skin and protects your minor injury.
If your bandage box says the bandages are plastic, it usually means the adhesive sheet is made of PVC, 
polyethylene
, or polyurethane. If the bandages are woven fabric, they could be made of a number of different fabrics, both natural and synthetic. Bandage fabrics may contain
rayon
and cotton, and sometimes, these fabrics are still woven with plastics or contain latex.
Not only do bandages contain unsustainable materials, but they're also single-use and must be disposed of after use. That means non-
biodegradable
waste and potentially toxic chemicals get
sent to landfills
. When we send waste to landfills, it decomposes at slower rates and releases greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane. These gases get trapped in the atmosphere, contributing to
global warming
and
climate change
.

Sustainable Bandages

These bandages are made from 100% natural bamboo fiber and are free from irritating chemicals.
Shop Bandages
The thing about Band-Aids is that we can't really avoid them. While we may have washable and reusable bandage wraps, we don't have reusable bandages. Thus, we can't avoid the waste that comes with bandages.
However, you can
recycle
the box your bandages come in. The cardboard box containing the adhesive strips can be recycled with paper waste. And when you recycle the box, you keep it
out of the landfill
.
If you're looking for a way to decrease the amount of waste you produce, you're in luck: biodegradable bandages are a great alternative that's great for you and the planet.

What Are Biodegradable and Compostable Bandages?

sustainable band aids
Biodegradable bandages are exactly like your traditional adhesive bandages... except they're made with organic, sustainable materials and ditch the harsh chemicals. So when these bandages get thrown away, they'll decompose more naturally and have a lower environmental impact.
For example, Patch's
biodegradable bandages
are made with organic bamboo fiber, coconut oil, and a hypoallergenic Pressure Sensitive Adhesive (PSA) gauze. They're plastic-free, vegan, and—because they avoid harsh chemicals—are also great for sensitive skin.
And good news: Kids don't have to say goodbye to those beloved prints. Patch also has
Coconut Oil Kids Bamboo Bandages
that are decorated with an adorable
panda
print. You can't beat fun and planet-friendly.