The 5 Best Biodegradable Bandages of 2021

Take care of your booboo with biodegradable bandaids.

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When you’re thinking of reducing plastic in your life, bandages probably aren’t the first product that comes to mind. Yet most of the bandages on the market today are made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyethylene (PE), or polyurethane (PUR) with polyester gauze pads and acrylic adhesives. PVC, also known as vinyl, releases many dangerous chemicals as it degrades, including dioxins, phthalates, lead, and more. So it makes sense that you wouldn’t want it in prolonged contact with your skin, let alone on top of a wound.

Some bandages also contain latex. Although sourced from natural rubber, many people struggle with latex allergies. Many patients also report irritation from bandages, a condition called contact dermatitis, which can sometimes result from allergic reactions to the chemical adhesives used in some bandages.

When evaluating a bandage brand, check the materials used to make the bandage, gauze pad, and adhesive, as well as the type of packaging. Most biodegradable bandages are made from sustainably-sourced bamboo fabric mesh. Some use recyclable cardboard packaging.

Bandages are also a single-use item, so for the future of our planet, switching to sustainably-made, biodegradable alternatives just makes sense. Although there are only a few brands currently available, several companies are developing new types of biodegradable bandages. We’ll look forward to the day when the sales of biodegradable alternatives outstrip their plastic competition.

Each of our picks for the best biodegradable bandages are fully biodegradable and compostable.

The Rundown
Organic, sustainable bandages made from fast growing bamboo.
Affordable, flexible, functional bandages in recyclable packaging.
Fully compostable latex- and plastic-free bandage from a Canadian company dedicated to sustainability and climate.
The activated charcoal in these bandages eliminates odors and may even aid in healing.
The cute panda design delights while the coconut oil soothes.

Best Overall: Patch Natural Bamboo Bandages

Patch Natural Bamboo Bandages

An Australia-based company, Nutricare was founded by a father whose son was reacting negatively to standard bandages. It developed a range of Patch brand bandages made from soft, 100% organic, sustainable and fast-growing bamboo fiber, combined with hypoallergenic, pressure-sensitive adhesive. Nutricare sources bamboo that is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and OEKO-TEX standard 100 certified, so you can trust that the bamboo has come from environmentally-sound and well-managed sites.

Patch Natural Bamboo Bandages are now distributed by over 35,000 retailers in 41 countries around the world. Each bandage is vegan, cruelty-free, latex-free, and suitable for those with sensitive skin. Bamboo is naturally antibiotic, without added chemicals, and breathes well to promote healing and discourage bacterial growth.

Each bandage is also 100% compostable, so when you’re through you can bury it in the garden or toss it in a compost bin.

Nutricare is also thoughtful about its packaging. Bandage wrappers are made from plastic-free rice paper. You’ll get 25 compostable bandages in a recycled (and recyclable) cardboard tube in one size, 3.3 inches by 0.75 inches. The tube is printed with natural dyes.

Nutricare is a Certified B Corp, which legally obligates it to maintain high environmental and labor standards. To offset global shipping and other emissions, Nutricare supports organizations such as Trees For The Future. Nutricare has also donated its products to countries struggling with natural disasters, like East Timor and Haiti, as well as to COVID-19 medical workers and those affected by Australian Bushfires.

If you like Patch’s Natural Bandage Strips, check out its other options, including healing aloe vera, activated charcoal (see Best Large) and coconut oil panda bandages for kids (see Best for Kids).

Best Budget: FEBU Organic Bamboo Strip Bandages

FEBU Organic Bamboo Strip Bandages

Increased costs can feel overwhelming when you’re trying to green your home, but switching to biodegradable bandages doesn’t have to break the bank. For Earth. By Us. (FEBU) Organic Bamboo Bandages can be purchased for about $0.20 each. FEBU’s mission is to create sustainable and affordable alternatives to single-use products.

A pack of 75 bandages includes three convenient sizes to meet standard household needs. Each bandage is free of latex and plastic, in addition to being cruelty-free and vegan-friendly. The soft, flexible organic bamboo fabric is gentle on your skin and breathable to allow healing, but durable enough to avoid fraying. The bamboo itself is FSC Certified sustainably sourced. 

FEBU bandages use hypoallergenic, pressure sensitive adhesive that customers say holds bandages on well without pain on removal.

FEBU bandages can fully decompose within about 10 weeks when composted. The packaging is also 100% recyclable and plastic free.

Best Organic: Essence of Life Organics Natural Bamboo Bandages

Essence of Life Organics Natural Bamboo Bandages

Since you’re placing it directly on a wound and wearing it on your skin for a few days to a few weeks, it makes sense that you’d want a bandage made from organic materials. Essentials of Life Organics 100% Biodegradable Bamboo Bandages are made with sustainable and organically-grown bamboo, so they’re plastic- and latex-free. Each single-use sterile bandage is safe for sensitive skin and 100% compostable after use. 

One cardboard box includes 20 sterile strips with ten each of two sizes: 3 x 0.7 inches and 2.25 x 0.6 inches.

Essence of Life Organics is a family-owned and operated small business based in the Toronto, Canada area. It offers a wide range of 100% biodegradable, plastic-free, zero waste products made and curated with sustainability and climate objectives in mind. 

Best Large: Patch Large Bamboo Bandages with Activated Charcoal

Patch Large Bamboo Bandages with Activated Charcoal

Combining several small bandages to cover a larger wound isn't only inadequate, but also not very cost effective. Nutricare’s Patch Large Bamboo Bandages with Activated Charcoal come in a ten-pack with two sizes: 3-inch by 2-inch rectangles and 3-inch squares.

Patch Large Bamboo Bandages are also available plain, with aloe vera, or with coconut oil (with little pandas printed on it!). We picked the activated charcoal version of Nutricare's large bandage in part because of strong evidence that absorbent carbon in bandages helps control odors. There is also some limited research indicating that activated charcoal may aid in healing.

Nutricare’s Patch brand is one of the first zero waste bandages on the market. It's also environmentally friendly and socially conscious (see Best Overall).

Best for Kids: Patch Coconut Oil Kids Bandages

Patch Coconut Oil Kids Bandages

Kids are the largest consumers of bandages, so it makes sense that we’d want only the best for them. Sometimes, a fun bandage can distract young children from the pain of their injury. Nutricare’s Patch Coconut Oil Kids Bandages were designed especially for kids, although adults may love the cute panda design too.

Coconut oil in the gauze helps soothe minor abrasions, prevents itching and provides moisture for sensitive skin. If you like the Coconut Oil Kids variety, these large bandages are also available in aloe vera and activated charcoal varieties, or without any additives.

Final Verdict

Patch's Biodegradable Natural Adhesive Bandage Strips (view on Package Free) have all the characteristics you need, without the toxic and plastic materials of a typical bandage. Customers note that they work just as well as the major bandage brands. But if you’re on a tight budget, don’t let that stop you from going biodegradable. Try FEBU Organic Bamboo Bandages (view on Amazon). They are a bit more affordable and equally well rated.

What to Look for in Biodegradable Bandages

Materials

It is often difficult to determine what bandages are made from since manufacturers are not required to disclose materials on packaging or websites. However, most biodegradable bandages available today are made from bamboo that has been woven into a flexible fabric. Look for bamboo that has been certified by a third party for sustainable sourcing.

Also important are the materials used to cover the adhesive part of the bandage during transport and to wrap each individual bandage. There are environmentally-friendly paper materials that are much better than the typical strips of plastic, which contribute to our global microplastics problem.

Packaging

Thankfully, even plastic bandages are often packaged in recyclable cardboard or tin containers. But even better is cardboard made from post-consumer recycled cardboard, which re-uses materials multiple times.

Choose bandages that are individually packaged in recyclable paper or other materials and avoid any packaging that uses plastic or other non-recyclable materials.

Company Ethics

A product can be offered very cheaply and on a global scale, but that convenience sometimes involves the exploitation of a company’s workers. Whenever possible, spend your hard earned dollars with companies that pay their workers a living wage, provide a safe working environment and give back to the communities that help them grow and succeed. The term “fair trade” often encompasses these ideals. Some third party organizations independently verify and certify fair trade practices, so look for certifications from organizations like Fair For Life on packaging and websites. Not all third-party certifications are the same however, so a little extra research can help ensure you're shopping fair trade.

Check out the “About” section of a company’s website for clues to their environmental and social responsibility. That’s where they’ll often list fair trade practices and any third party certifications, as well as charitable programs in which they participate such as 1% for the Planet, through which companies pledge to give a percent of their revenue to environmental nonprofits.

FAQs

Are biodegradable bandages sanitary?

Almost all commercially manufactured bandages are made to be sterile and wrapped individually so that the bandage you place on your wound is free from infectious agents. However, if you purchase bandages that aren’t individually wrapped it is unlikely that they will stay sterile once the package is opened.

Although bamboo plants have evolved some natural resistance to bacteria and fungi, products made from processed bamboo tend to lose that resistance. So while bamboo bandages start out sterile, they won’t remain that way. Those that seal completely around the wound along all their edges will keep out germs longer than those that have open sides.

To keep wounds sanitary, change bandages regularly—either on a daily basis, or as recommended by your healthcare provider.   

Do biodegradable bandages last as long as plastic bandages?

The short answer is no, though it shouldn't matter. Biodegradable bandages can last for weeks. Since it's important to change bandages regularly, biodegradable bandages will be just as effective as plastic ones.

However, when discarded after use, there is a huge difference between biodegradable and plastic bandages.  

Biodegradable bandages have several advantages over typical plastic bandages, including that they are compostable. Although there is a connection between biodegradable and compostable, they aren’t the same thing. While objects can naturally biodegrade over time, the process of composting involves human intervention. Some products can be labeled compostable but then actually only turn into compost when placed under conditions of high heat and pressure found in a municipal compost facility.

A biodegradable bandage buried in the garden or sent to a compost facility might last up to 10 weeks. PVC plastic bandages left in the sunshine might degrade into several toxic chemicals within a hundred years, but buried in a landfill, without light and oxygen, they could take over a thousand years to fully decompose.

Why Trust Treehugger?

Lorraine Wilde has only the highest standards for what goes on her family’s skin. She also holds a Master’s degree in environmental science with an emphasis on toxicology. Lorraine is a firm believer that consumers can make healthy, informed and sustainable choices to protect their families and our planet.

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