Here, Ella Daish reveals why 2019 is the year to make period products plastic-free, why she's leading the charge and how exactly you can help.
In 2018, the threat of plastic pollution and its adverse effects on the environment gained huge media coverage. Period products are no exception, with many becoming aware for the first time just like me that the tampons and pads that we had been using for years contained high amounts of plastic.
That’s why last year I took a stand against period plastic by starting a petition, which calls on key manufacturers and supermarkets to go plastic-free. Taking on these large multinational companies is a huge task, but one I am willing to take on; as the environment is at stake!
These products can contain up to 90% plastic, are constantly manufactured and discarded, with an estimated 100 billion disposed of annually worldwide; nearly all of which contain plastics. They can enter rivers and oceans and end up on beaches. In fact, a report by the European Commission found that period items are the fifth most common waste washed up on beaches.
These are all the incredible ways period brands are reducing their impact on the oceans - and we salute them!
This happens when they are incorrectly flushed down toilets, and shockingly, an estimated up to 2 billion tampons, pads and applicators are flushed in the UK annually. This pollutes and negatively impacts the environment and contributes to ocean plastic, which kills around 1 million sea birds and 100,000 sea mammals, marine turtles and countless fish yearly. Over time, their plastic content disintegrates into smaller pieces, known as microplastics and fibres, which pose a further threat to marine-life and ecosystems.
Plastic applicators are another major issue stemming from the period industry. They are found so often on beaches that many have nicknamed them ‘beach whistles’. Applicators are used for a matter of seconds and should never be made from a material that takes centuries to decompose. There is no excuse for this excessive use of plastic when there are environmentally-friendly alternatives such as cardboard applicators or non-applicator tampons! That’s why this year I’m saying “see ya later plastic applicator!“ and why I’m determined to make 2019 the year of the plastic-free period.
The issue of period plastic is incredibly important because the harmful impacts they are having on the environment, oceans and wildlife is completely avoidable, certainly as there are companies who have produced eco-friendly alternatives since the 80s. Therefore, it is evident that their plastic content is unnecessary, and this is why over 106,000 have signed the petition and continue to act because it is obvious that change must happen.
Last year we called upon Tesco and Sainsbury’s to take responsibility by removing plastic from their period care and to make eco-friendly options available in-store. Our actions paid off. By standing up together and making our voices heard, they could not ignore consumer demand and both supermarkets responded by stocking a range of eco-friendly period care, including reusable cups, nationwide.
I’m stepping things up in 2019 and kicking this year of action off by tackling two major period brands - Lil-Lets and Procter and Gamble, who own Tampax and Always - regarding their needless use of plastic applicators and the wider issue of plastic in their tampons, pads and packaging.
Join me in taking action by signing and following updates, so that we can make 2019 the year of change; the ‘Year of the Plastic-Free Period!’