July 13, 2024

Innovation & Tech Today


Buyer’s guide: The Top 50 Most Innovative Products
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Sustainability in … Cotton Swabs?

We’ve all seen the heartbreaking image of the seahorse clinging to a Q-tip, taken by environmental activist and wildlife photographer Justin Hofman, underscoring the desperate need to reduce plastic waste from winding up in the ocean. But you’re not in charge of where your trash goes, right? What can one person do to ease the steady stream of garbage from polluting oceans worldwide? Not your problem?

But what if you inadvertently consume fish that consume discarded plastic? Do we throw away plastic to have it find its way back in our stomachs? No.

While a radical change of lifestyle from consumer to environmental warrior might not be practical or easy to achieve, there is one small step you can take to reduce your trash output and feel proud of yourself for making a difference — stop using Q-Tips or generic cotton swabs. I don’t mean stop cleaning your ears (eww gross.) I mean, stop wasting hundreds, if not thousands, of disposable plastic cotton swabs in your family’s and your lifetime, by using LastSwab instead. 

The World’s First Reusable Cotton Swab

LastSwab is an alternative to the regular, ubiquitous daily cotton swab. While this sustainable Qtip isn’t literally the last swab you will ever use –you should replace it eventually– it can be used for a few months, saving the oceans and baby seahorses from thousands of disposable cotton swabs polluting the environment. And it will prevent your body from ensuring the linty threads that often unravel off cotton swabs and stick to you, including the ones that you have to patiently pick off your eyelashes while cleaning up your flaky mascara.

LastSwab provides an eco-friendly alternative to the many uses of single-use Q-tips without a detrimental environmental footprint.

Thermoplastic elastomers (TPE), sometimes referred to as thermoplastic rubbers, are a class of copolymers or a physical mix of polymers (usually plastic and rubber) consisting of materials with both thermoplastic and elastomeric properties. While most elastomers are thermosets, thermoplastics are, in contrast, relatively easy to use in manufacturing, for example, by injection molding. Thermoplastic elastomers show advantages typical of both rubbery materials and plastic materials. The benefit of using thermoplastic elastomers is the ability to stretch to moderate elongations and return to its near original shape creating a longer life and better physical range than other materials. The principal difference between thermoset elastomers and thermoplastic elastomers is the type of cross-linking bond in their structures. Crosslinking is a critical structural factor that imparts high elastic properties.

LastObject photo
LastObject photo

One plastic Qtip is better than 1,000 disposable cotton swabs.

Polypropylene, also known as polypropene, is a thermoplastic polymer used in a wide variety of applications. It is produced via chain-growth polymerization from the monomer propylene. Polypropylene belongs to the group of polyolefins and is partially crystalline and non-polar PP and stored in an ocean-bound plastic carrying case. One LastSwab replaces approximately 1000 single-use cotton swabs.

Reduce Waste 

Switching to reusable alternatives reduces massive amounts of waste impacting our environment.

The LastSwab is easy to clean and store conveniently in a compact (and cute!) carrying case. This reusable Q-tip comes in two different models for different applications. LastSwab Original is for general use (such as ear cleaning, obviously). LastSwab Beauty is for more beauty-oriented purposes, such as cleaning up that smoky eyeliner or feathery lipliner. Both models are made from durable yet flexible, high quality, and non-toxic materials, which are gentle on the skin and super easy to clean. Easily toss both of them in your travel kit or cosmetics case along with your compact toothbrush.

No Planet B

LastSwab, above all, is an opportunity to transform our complacent routines for the benefit of the planet while also simplifying and decluttering our lives. Also, if the pandemic has made you more OCD than before, these versions are ultimately more sterile than their cotton contemporaries. 

Every year, trillions of single-use plastic products are consumed and thrown away – often ending up on the beaches and in the oceans harming or killing marine life, which we may consume, eventually harming ourselves! By purchasing LastSwab, you are helping reduce harmful waste from impacting our environment.

Picture of By Sara Brittany Somerset

By Sara Brittany Somerset

Sara Brittany Somerset is a United Nations & cannabis correspondent based out of New York, NY.

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