That’s the minimum number of disposable tampons, pads and panty liners the average woman will use over her lifetime. These personal hygiene products made our BAN List 2.0 as some of the world's worst plastic items—from both an environmental and toxic chemicals perspective.
For years, organizations like Women’s Voices for the Earth have campaigned for disclosure of the risks posed by the presence of petrochemical components in feminine hygiene products. The organization won a huge victory in 2017, when two of the largest feminine care manufacturers—Procter and Gamble and Kimberly Clark—agreed to disclose ingredients in pads and tampons after previously arguing that this step was unnecessary as the products weren’t medical devices. This win was also a boon for the Robin Danielson Act, named for a woman who died of Toxic Shock Syndrome, which seeks to create a research program on the health risks associated with ingredients in conventional personal care products.
But few are talking about the problem with plastics and femcare. Single-use plastic wrappers and applicators cannot be recycled and end up in landfills, and many “natural” tampons and pads are made with plastic microfibers that escape water filtration systems. Even certified organic cotton products are often packaged with a “bioplastic” applicator, which will persist in landfills and can pollute our oceans.
The thing to remember about plastic femcare products is: You can avoid them. Pledge to go #plasticfree:
- Choose pads that aren’t wrapped in single-use plastic.
- Refuse to buy tampons with plastic applicators.
- Seek reusable solutions like period panties or a menstrual cup.
- If you have to use a plastic applicator, please don’t flush it—dispose of it in the wastebasket, instead.
Take the pledge today!
Photo: Earth Respect