skip the q-tip

Cotton swabs. Little plastic sticks with cotton on the ends that come in packs of three billion.

Which means that you're throwing away three billion one-time use items that can't be recycled.

There's gotta be a better way!

For starters, you really shouldn't be using cotton swabs to clean your ears. Doctors have advised against it for years. And many people have been ignoring it for years.

There are two more eco-friendly options for cleaning your ears without a pile of cotton swabs in the trash can.

Ototek makes a reusable ear cleaning tool that helps to get the gunk out, and also safeguards against poking too far. I haven't personally tried them yet, but I might just have to! The struggle of your ear itching is real.

Similasan makes a homeopathic ear cleaning solution that removes the gunk. Dispense a couple drops in your ear and hold your head sideways for about 30 seconds or so, then rinse and repeat on the other side. Personally, it leaves my ears feeling super clean (moreso than a cotton swab would leave it.)

Plus, imagine the amount of waste you create...60 cotton swabs in the trash or one tiny jar of ear cleaning drops that can be rinsed and put in the recycling bin?

Whatever you choose, I would not suggest using ear candles to clean your ears. It just seems like a disaster waiting to happen and I don't think burning off your ear hairs will accomplish much. Plus, doctors warn against the safety dangers of sticking a burning candle in your ear.

Now, to tackle the other issue. Cotton swabs have many purposes at home, from cleaning up messy nail polish jobs to dusting in tight spots. What should you do in those situations?

Get creative with items you already have at home. Use a spare rag on the edge of a chopstick to mimic the function of a cotton swab. Bonus points for using a ratty old t-shirt as a cleaning rag!

Now, if you're currently looking at me like I'm crazy, and thinking, "Girl, I still want to keep cotton swabs in my home!", look for ones made with organic cotton and/or cardboard spindles. If you've got cardboard swabs, pull the cotton off to throw away, and recycle the cardboard. Something is better than nothing!

The Whole Foods store brand also has a box of organic cotton swabs.

If you only use one side at a time, cut the swabs in half to make sure you use everything before throwing it away.

Make it your goal to use and throw away as few cotton swabs as possible!

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