Technology

How many plastic bags are in your tampon?

Think you know what’s in your period products? Think again!

This week is Environmenstrual Week - a week of action hosted by Wen from 19-25th October - with more than 60 organisations uniting to spread the word about plastic-free, toxic-free period products for all.

Through City to Sea’s award-winning Plastic Free Periods campaign you may be aware of the horrifying amount of plastic in period products, but what about the chemicals associated with- or added to these products? This Environmenstrual Week City to Sea are joining forces with Women Engage for a Common Future (WECF), to uncover the hidden ingredients in our period products.

A shocking new WECF report released during Environmenstrual Week has found some non-organic tampons and pads contain not only pesticide residues but also fragrances and plasticizers. What exactly are these things, and are they harmful for our health?

  • Pesticide residues originate from non-organic cotton (and other non-organic plants) where potentially harmful chemicals are sprayed on crops to kill insects.
  • Fragrances are perfumes added to period products to make them ‘smell nice’, but often have the opposite effect. Chemical fragrances can interfere with the pH balance in the vagina, as well as the balance between good and bad bacteria which help the vagina to stay clean. This can lead to irritation and infection, which in turn may produce more odour! Often the ‘smell’ we associate with periods is actually due to the mixture of oxidised blood (blood out of the body) mixing with these perfumes.
  • Plasticizers are materials that are added to other materials to make them more soft and flexible. Bisphenol A (BPA), parabens and Phthalates are common plasticisers which are known to mimic hormones, especially oestrogen. Bisphenol A (BPA), parabens and Phthalates are common plasticisers which are known to mimic hormones, especially oestrogen. With one pack of pads containing the same amount of plastic as 5 carrier bags, and even a tampon being 6% plastic, that is a lot of plasticizer being used next to, or inside our bodies…

All of these chemicals are known to disrupt the endocrine system (EDC’s), which is instrumental in regulating mood, growth and development and reproduction. So should we be putting them in- or close to a highly absorbent area of our body?

What’s even more outrageous is that whilst food and cosmetic manufacturers are required by law to state what the ingredients of their products are on packaging, this is not the case for period product manufacturers. So as you can see from City to Sea’s new video, this information comes as a big shock to most of the population…

Health Adviser for Wen and Independent researcher Helen Lynn said:

“Its staggering to think we still do not know exactly what menstrual products are made of or what toxic chemicals they might contain. Independent research has detected the presence of toxic chemicals which can mimic our hormones ie Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) or are linked to cancer or reproductive disorders. And detected plastics which can leach toxic chemicals and ultimately pollute our environment and harm wildlife. They have no place in products used daily in one of the most absorbent of places, our vaginas.”

Whoever you are, wherever you live, City to Sea believe that you deserve to have access to- and education about period products that don’t harm your health or the planet.

This may all sound very depressing, but the good news is that they’re on a mission to raise awareness about the problems with outdated products, and make modern alternatives more accessible to all. And luckily it’s now easier than ever before!

Since the start of 2019 at least thirteen new plastic-free period products have been added across nine major retailers, including period pants, washable pads, menstrual cups, reusable tampon applicators and organic tampons and pads.

And the cherry on top – by switching to a reusable period product people can save up to 94% of what would have been spent on single-use tampons and pads over your menstruating lifetime!

  • To learn more about eco-friendly, health-friendly period products check out City to Sea’s FAQ’s page here.
  • To access exclusive Environmenstrual Week discount codes on eco-friendly, health-friendly products, click here.
  • To find out what ingredients are in the full range of period products check out City to Sea’s new guide here.
  • If you get your shopping online from one of the major retailers, use City to Sea’s guide to see who’s offering what.
  • And since the manufacturers won’t do it, please share their video to spread the word and help empower others to make informed decisions about their health and the planet.

Whilst it’s early days for extensive research into menstrual health and the effects of plastic on the human body, one thing is for sure. There are now better ways to have a period than we were told as kids – less risky for our health, easier on the wallet and far better for the planet.

Three cheers for #PlasticFreePeriods!

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