The hidden truth behind hand sanitiser

Before March this year (pre Covid-19), hand sanitiser was not even on my radar. To be honest, I hated the stuff. Bringing up two kids without it was, in fact quite easy. We just used the trusty old sink. 

Now, in the current climate, I am forced to use this stuff when I go out every day. When I walk through the school gates, before I walk into a shop and when I get back into my car from the supermarket. The sticky residue not only reeks, but it stings my hands. I know I’m not alone. But, it’s safe, right? Unfortunately not. 

During lockdown, one of my tasks was to look at hand sanitisers for our beach cleaning and litter picking stations. We wanted to ensure that when our stations were put back out again, it would be safe to handle the litter pickers and the reusable bags. So, we got to work on a concept to prevent cross contamination.

We did the product research, we overcame obstacles, we trialled a product, we shared it on our socials and thanks to a follower on Twitter, we were asked for the ingredients list. We checked it. We were horrified. The hand ‘gels’ that we looked into have an ingredient called ‘carpobol aqua’, which is a, wait for it, MICRO PLASTIC. It means that 99% of the gel-based products are likely to contain plastics or ingredients that harm the environment.  This is serious. We can’t accept that. 

Remember those pesky micro beads that were in our toothpaste and facewash? They were abolished, and they were visible, but it’s heart-breaking to know that hidden microplastics such as carpobol aqua, part of the acrylates copolymer family, still exist in our everyday products. These polymers (plastics made up of two or more monomers like acrylic acid and methacrylic acid for example) are used to make products look transparent, shiny, smooth looking, ‘bedazzling’ and give products their elasticity. 

We asked plastics expert, Professor Richard Thompson his opinion. He suggested we could “minimise the risk by introducing control measures to limit the extent of a spill”.  We concluded that if a spill occurred, and usage was not monitored, finding an eco-friendly sanitiser was our only option. 

We at The 2 Minute Foundation are programmed to be ingredient aware and we push this mindset onto others via our #2minutesolution campaign. I want to know what goes into my shower gel, my washing up liquid, my soap, so when buying hand sanitiser, it’s no different.

Let’s ask for clearer labelling. Let’s change our thinking and heighten our awareness on what actually goes into the products we so rely on during this pandemic in particular, and everyday life. Join us in making this a #2minutesolution right now.  Just because a label says ‘vegan’ and ‘biodegradable’, does not mean that it’s eco-friendly. The eco-friendly options are out there – we know. 

We hope that we can be the driving force behind banning microplastics in hand sanitiser and other household products for that matter. It’s a big ambition, but we know this can be done. 

What’s next? We are working on finding a planet positive brand to recommend to all of our station guardians. We are going to be trialling eco-friendly options and help drive change by persuading manufacturers to eradicate the micro plastic element. We’ll keep you informed. In the meantime, watch this space for our homemade hand sanitiser recipes. It’s the perfect #2minutesolution. You never know, we may even start manufacturing our own eco friendly brand – anyone got a spare factory?

We’d love to have some feedback, so get in touch and start the conversation. 

Keep washing your hands!

Nicky and The 2 Minute Foundation team

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