Plastic-Free Periods: Eco-Friendly Sanitary Products

Updated on April 23, 2020
Susie Hewson was a pioneer in creating a company that avoids plastic waste in sanitary ware - Natracare
Susie Hewson was a pioneer in creating a company that avoids plastic waste in sanitary ware - Natracare | Source

The Campaign for Plastic-Free Periods Is a Growing Movement

Sanitary products for feminine hygiene have been used for millennia, but only in the 20th century did they become mass-produced commodity items. With the advent of synthetic polymers and plastic in sanitary items, their disposal has now become an environmental issue, especially if designed for single use only.

Thanks to the rising awareness of ocean pollution and the plastic garbage gyres as highlighted in TV presentations such as the BBC’s Blue Planet more and more campaigners, and women in particular are encouraging plastic-free periods. Indeed, this movement is seen as part of a new feminist movement1.

This movement goes back all the way to 1989. Meet UK based Susie Hewson, founder of Natracare, amongst the first companies to promote and sell biodegradable sanitary products. Hewson says2:

Natracare is my promise to women to provide quality, organic and natural solutions for intimate hygiene and personal care without ever compromising ethically. Our resolve is to continue to educate women about the irritating and damaging types of ingredients that go into leading brands and their effects on health and wellbeing.

Biodegradable products were available before then, but increasingly, companies have chosen to incorporate widely available synthetics and plastics to diversify and enhance their range with little concern for environmental impacts. This process has accelerated and it’s taken pioneers like Hewson to promote an alternative vision. It’s only now, 20 years later, that consumer concerns and expectations are forcing manufacturers to reconsider their products. Natracare products are now marketed in over 63 countries.

Natracare pads provide a cheap and effective alternative to plastic based products that may last hundreds of years.  Similar items from other companies now exist.
Natracare pads provide a cheap and effective alternative to plastic based products that may last hundreds of years. Similar items from other companies now exist.

Breaking the Plastic Cycle, Period

Ella Daish is a young British pioneer following in Hewson’s footsteps, highlighting plastic sanitary waste washing up on the Welsh coastline and campaigning for plastic-free periods. Daish says of plastic applicators3:

"Plastic tampon applicators are used for seconds, yet take centuries to break down, and they have avoidable impacts on the environment."

These colourful devices in blue, orange, green, purple and yellow represent a “rainbow of plastic pollution” according to Daish. Unfortunately, most such plastic items including towels and pads are flushed down the toilet to end up polluting waterways and oceans.

The UK Women's Environmental Network is campaigning for better education and environmentally safer products but some manufacturers remain stubborn. Since 2004, increasing momentum and concern among consumers is building up. Supermarkets such as Sainsbury’s are contemplating eliminating unnecessary plastics in such products altogether.

Several environmentally sound alternatives to non-biodegradable sanitaryware are proposed from cups to products of cardboard and disposable pants4. They need not represent a loss in quality. As Dr. Vanessa Mackay says5:

"It is important that women have as much choice as possible when managing their periods. It may also be more financially sustainable for women as a number of these products – washable sanitary towels for example – will not need to be replaced so regularly."

The movement to end plastic in sanitary products is still in its infancy but positive change seems to be approaching. As Ella Daish says6:

With the problems of single-use plastic gaining huge media attention, this has naturally put this topic at the forefront of many people’s thoughts, making them consider the role of plastic in their lives, the waste it produces and the damage it causes worldwide. So it is an amazing feeling when people get in touch with me or mention on social media that because of the campaign, they have opted for eco-friendly alternatives. Knowing that the very people supporting the campaign feel so passionately about what it stands for, so much so that they are willing to make personal changes, inspires me and makes me feel like I am really making a positive difference.

She summarises with a five-word caption: Breaking the plastic cycle, period.

Ella Daish is a youthful campaigner, heading a campaign for plastic free periods while holding down a job
Ella Daish is a youthful campaigner, heading a campaign for plastic free periods while holding down a job | Source

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, soapboxie.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)