A study published in 2018 by the EU found that sanitary products were the fifth most common item found on Europe’s beaches, with over 200,000 tonnes ending up in UK landfill every year. Unbelievably, millions of sanitary products are still being flushed down the toilet daily, and it takes a tampon longer to degrade than the lifespan of the woman who wears it. When you add up how many tampons you might use in your lifetime, that’s a lot of single-use sanitary waste you’re producing every year.
The lowest-waste option is a menstrual cup. Costing around £20 and with an average lifespan of a decade, your monthly cost equates to pennies in the long run. Many options are latex, BPA and phthalates free, available in three sizes and are soft and flexible, making them easy to insert and remove. They can generally be worn for up to 12 hours, holding up to three tampons worth, and can be worn at night. But they don’t work for everyone so if you’re looking for an alternative, here are some companies offering plastic-free period products.
TOTM make organic cotton tampons, pads and liners. The applicators in their tampons are made from biodegradable cardboard, all of their sanitary products are made from organic cotton and are fragrance, wood pulp and chlorine bleach free, and come individually wrapped in a compostable and biodegradable biofilm. Since 2016 they’ve donated over £5,000 to Gynaecological Cancer Fund and £15,000 to Endometriosis UK, as well as pads to menstrual dignity organisations and shelters.
Freda’s range of organic pads are made from 70% renewable materials, come in boxes of 8 or 16, Regular or Super absorbencies, and with night pad and pantyliner options. They also make Teen Boxes, designed to support young women in making decisions about their period product choices. They’ve partnered with numerous campaign groups to raise awareness about period poverty and sustainable solutions, and offer both personal and corporate subscriptions to encourage businesses to offer free sanitary products in the workplace.
Flo have major sass, and set out to not only make periods a more light-hearted monthly affair, but to make sure everyone is covered. Their bamboo pads are available in Day & Night packs and All Nighter packs, their tampons are available in Regular and Super absorbencies, applicator and non-applicator, and their pantyliners are plastic-free and biodegradable. 5% of their profits go to charity and they donate products to organisations that fight period poverty.
Hey Girls offer the full spectrum of period products, including re-usable pads. Their non-reusable pads are bio-degradable, made from bamboo and corn fibre, their tampons are 100% organic cotton and the whole range is plastic-free. We love their Pads4Dads Kit, too. Their Buy One Get One campaign has made a huge impact, and in two years of business they’ve donated over 7 million products across the UK in their mission to tackle period poverty. What’s even better is that they localise their distribution centres, so wherever you purchase your products is where the donations will be shared. In 2019 they launched the period dignity campaign to encourage employers to stock period products in the workplace, in the same way we all have free access to toilet roll. They now have over 40 businesses on board including Skyscanner, Bulb, Monese, Royal London and Revolution Bars.
OHNE not only make 100% organic and biodegradable tampons in regular, super and super+ sizes, they also make CBD oil to relieve period pain and CBD oil to balance hormones. 1% of revenue from every monthly subscription is donated to School Club Zambia, an organisation that works to improve hygiene, make reusable pads and strive for open education around menstruation for girls in Zambia.
&SISTERS sell 100% organic cotton pads, tampons and liners. Their tampons are wrapped in recyclable bioplastic, and all of their products are biodegradable and sustainably sourced. Raising period awareness sits at the heart of their company mission, and they donate 10% of their profits to help support women’s health, education and economic empowerment across the globe.
One-off or subscription
All of these companies offer the option of a one-off purchase or monthly subscription, making them ideal in the current climate. Isolation combined with availability can make access to period protection difficult for many of us, so knowing that we can reliably ensure we have a regular stock is important.