Most band-aids are made of plastic. The adhesive sheet of a band-aid is usually made from either PVC, polyethylene, or polyurethane. It is a single-use plastic item, but unlike other single-use plastics, band-aids can’t be replaced by a reusable item. Polyurethane is, like all plastics, petroleum-based and is the same toxic compound found in chemical-laden mattresses. While polyethylene is considered a “safe plastic,” the process of manufacturing it requires industrial chemicals including butane, benzene, and vinyl acetate, making the process less than eco-friendly. PVC, or polyvinyl chloride or vinyl, it’s the most toxic plastic for both our personal health and environment. Vinyl releases many dangerous chemicals, including dioxins, phthalates, lead, and more. So, band-aids are not sustainably-made, they are not biodegradable and they are bad for our health. And while we aim to throw them all in the bin, sometimes they fall off and end up in the environment.
Some band aids are made from rubber latex and while this is a natural, renewable source, they take a long time to break down, and for people with latex allergies, they aren't a feasible option. Although not many, there are some sustainable/biodegradable options out there.
Wooly Lamb's Ear (Stachys byzantina) band aids. The leaves of this plant have been used for centuries as band aids. The plant has both antiseptic and antibacterial properties, and has anti-inflammatory qualities. The leaves are soft and absorb blood really well. Just layer some leaves on the wound and put some surgical tape to keep it in place. You can grow them yourself in your garden. How convenient is that!
Kombucha SCOBY. A SCOBY (Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast) is a sugar-tea solution, fermented by bacteria and yeast, crucial to the fermentation process of creating kombucha. Take the dried-out kombucha SCOBY, cut to size, and wrap it on the wound. The pH of the SCOBY reduces the growth of bacteria, speeding up the heal time of the wound.
Cotton bandage. Wrap a piece of cotton around the wound.
Biodegradable bandages from Everyday Good Co. They break down in 2 years and decompose completely in around 4. They’re made using 15% recycled materials and the packaging is made of 100% from recycled material.
PATCH strips. They are made from 100% certified bamboo fiber and are 100% biodegradable. The cardboard packaging is recyclable and biodegradable. These adhesive bandages can be thrown in the compost after use and will break down in our natural environment within 10 weeks.