Disposable wipes not just for baby bums anymore

The season of spring cleaning is upon us, and for many Americans that means taking to dirty surfaces with a few — or a few million — disposable wipes. With varieties specially made for scrubbing, dusting, disinfecting, and buffing everything from microwaves to granite countertops to leather goods, it’s estimated that North Americans used some 83,000 tons of disposable wipes last year. Cleaning-wipe manufacturers, including Proctor & Gamble, 3M, and SC Johnson, say they are just giving consumers what they want — quick and easy cleaning products. But these throwaway goods are not just adding to landfills, says solid-waste specialist P. Aarne Vesilind; pollution is spewed and fossil fuels are squandered as ever-growing heaps of wipes and other dumb disposables are hauled away from homes to far-off dumps.