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.
1.4 million pads get flushed down the loo every day. The average pack of pads contains as
much plastic as four carrier bags.
2.5 million tampons and 700,000 panty liners get flushed down the loo every day. Most
conventional tampons or liners contain plastic.
The average woman will dispose of 11,000 menstrual products. If 11,000 sanitary towels were
lined up end-to-end, they would be the equivalent of 26 Big Bens in London.
On average, litter pickers record 6 pieces of period waste for every 100m of beach, which
equates to almost 2 million items when mapped against the UK coastline.*
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 2015, when two of the largest feminine care manufacturers—Procter and Gamble and Kimberly Clark—agreed to disclose ingredients in pads and tampons. 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. 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 USDA Certified organic cotton pads that aren’t wrapped in single-use plastic.
Refuse to buy tampons with plastic applicators.
Seek reusable solutions like period panties made from natural fabrics or a silicone menstrual cup.
If you have to use a plastic applicator, please don’t flush it—dispose of it in the wastebasket, instead.
If you use reusable pads or panties made from synthetic fabrics, make sure to hand rather than machine wash to minimize the shedding of plastic microfibers, which escape filtration systems.