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A study in 2016 found that nearly 50% of UK women flush tampons down the toilet. But those products that travel through the sewerage systems create serious issues.
A fatberg is a ‘very large mass of solid waste in a sewerage system, consisting especially of congealed fat and personal hygiene products that have been flushed down toilets.’ Period care products are mixed up in these fatbergs, which lead to severe blockages. Each year there is an average of 366,000 sewer blockages in the UK. The cost of removing such debris is paid for in our water bills. Not to mention it’s a huge burden on UK cities which could lead to even bigger problems.
Flushed period care products have to end up somewhere, and if it’s not clogged in the sewer it’s in the ocean. Anglian Water have estimated that between 1.5 billion and 2 billion period products are flushed each year in the UK.
It’s estimated that 1.6 billion tampons get flushed every year. This significantly contributes to pollution in the ocean. In 2015, The Ocean Conservancy collected 27,938 used tampons and applicators on beaches around the world in a single day.
Plastic applicators are a big part of this issue. Not only do they pollute oceans on a mass scale, they also threaten marine life!
With the nitty-gritty information now out in the open, here’s how you can make a difference. If you are guilty of flushing tampons/pads, then here are our top tips to dispose of these products:
First things first, opt for eco-friendlier period care products. Organic cotton tampons, pads and liners are produced with not only your health in mind but also the future of our planet. Organic products use significantly fewer plastics (side note: non-organic pads have been found to be around 90% plastic!) and are also biodegradable. This means they will break down naturally in landfill leaving minimal waste behind. Given the right condition, these can break down in around 6 months. They can also be composted so you can avoid landfill altogether if you have the facilities.
When removing your used tampon or pad, either wrap in tissue or pop in these super handy FabLittleBags (which are also biodegradable). Pop this in the nearest bin or allocated sanitary bin. FabLittleBags are ideal if you’re using a toilet without proper disposal facilities or if no toilet paper is available. Even your tampon applicators can go into bathroom bins. Just remember to look for cardboard applicators, because plastic applicators can take centuries to break down in the landfill.
Always look for tampons/pads packaged in cardboard boxes. When you have an empty box, you can then pop this in cardboard recycling.
Take power over your period and take these positive steps to a greener period. Put an end to flushing, and start responsibility disposing of your period care products to protect our planet today, and for the future. Help us reach more people! Share these tips on socials