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Can you flush tampons down the toilet? How to safely dispose of tampons

Hand holding TOTM organic cotton cardboard applicator tampon out of wrapper over purple and pink gradient background

It’s important to always safely dispose of your tampons, pads and liners. Not to sound ‘preachy’, but flushing your products is a big no, no. Here’s why:

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.

Issue 1: The fatberg

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.

Issue 2: Damaging our environment

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. 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!

How to safely dispose of tampons, pads and liners

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 down the toilet, then here are our top tips to dispose of these products:

  • Make a sustainable choice

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. Buy organic cotton pads, applicator tampons, non-applicator tampons and liners from TOTM via our online shop. We also stock reusable menstrual cups that are kind to the body and the planet.

  • Bag it and bin it

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.

  • Recycle the carton

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 tampons, pads and liners down the toilet 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. 

Check out our Period Powerful hub for more ‘‘green living’ tips and advice.

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