Let’s talk #PeriodsWithoutPlastic!

What’s in my pad?

Mainstream menstrual pads (not “sanitary pads” – periods aren’t dirty!) can contain up to 90% plastic.  Tampons have plastic in them too – even in the string and of course those candy coloured plastic applicators.  We hear a lot about single use plastic – straws, plastic bottles, coffee cups and the list goes on – but disposable menstrual products are adding to the plastic epidemic, made worse by incorrect disposal.  Flushing pads and tampons cause sewer blockages and worse many end up in the sea and washed up on beaches. Not really the bucket and spade family beach holiday one would hope for!


Paint stripper?

But that’s not the half of it.  Last week a study from the USA found that non organic rayon based tampons contained some pretty nasty chemicals – paint stripper to name just one. Then there’s the chemical absorbers, fillers, lubricants, and chemical and pesticide residues from the bleaching of cotton and the manufacturing process. Rather nasty!

Did you talk to your dad about periods?

That was a twitter discussion recently.  And that’s the point - Periods aren’t your usual dinner party conversation and for many not even within the family.  Not talking about periods means it’s difficult to discuss all the issues openly and honestly. Even at schools the conversation is not quite as transparent as it could be.  WEN has been contacted by parents concerned that menstrual education is being led by the major manufacturers, like Tampax and Lilets, and are in fact marketing ploys by huge commercial enterprises that do not give a balanced education.  

Viva #PeriodsWithoutPlastic!

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Reusable menstrual products have been around for decades but have been left in the shadows by their plastic disposable counterparts – not surprising when it’s the big consumer conglomerates that have the huge marketing budgets to push their wares. The fact that the cheapest options are those with the most potential to damage our health and the planet makes this a social and environmental justice issue: those with the least power have the greatest exposure to dangerous products.

So what are the options?

Menstrual Cups are not only eco-friendly but can be a real money saver too.  Yes, there is an initial upfront cost, which could be a barrier for many – but the savings over a 10-year period are significant.  Of course, this isn’t right for everyone – washable pads and period underwear is another option. For some, though, tampons and disposable pads are preferable and that’s where organic and plastic free options come in to play. These aren’t bleached, no nasties and are biodegradable.

#PeriodsWithoutPlastic Environmenstrual Campaign is taking the conversation of reusables and organic biodegragable disposables out there - in to schools and universities via interactive Environmenstrual workshops, by building a coalition of activists, organisations and businesses – there are 29 members to date and organizing an Environmenstrual Week of Action in October this year.

Want a piece of the action?

  • Check out the crowdfunder – help bring independent period education in to schools and universities.  Ends 8am Monday 25th June.

  • Take the pledge to try #Periodswithoutplastic – get top tips and money off vouchers from Ruby Cup, Wuka period pants, Natracare

  • Take part in the Week of Action

  • Watch Julia Bradbury, TV Presenter & Co-Founder The Outdoor Guide explain why she is supporting the campaign

Article by Heidi Ringsha
Women’s Environmental Network