If you use tampons on your period, you might have noticed that the majority of conventional tampons come equipped with a plastic applicator. While some marketing campaigns will praise these applicators for their ease of use, they are single-use plastic. A plastic applicator is used for seconds before being discarded, yet they take hundreds of years to decompose. So, is it time we wave goodbye to plastic applicators?
It’s hard to ignore the conversation surrounding plastic waste – it’s getting louder. Ever since that devastating Blue Planet episode, it feels as though the dangers of plastic pollution to marine life have been brought to light. More and more people are waking up to the unnecessary plastic that features in their daily lives. The Attenborough Effect has led to a 53% reduction in single-use plastic usage over the past 12 months. Since the series, numerous petitions have been started, zero-waste stores have opened, plastic packaging has been returned to supermarkets and Glastonbury took a huge step by banning the sale of single-use plastics. Incredible, right? Our actions make a difference.
Saying goodbye to single use
The UK government have confirmed that they will be banning plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds next year. The banning of these single-use items is game-changing news for the environment and a step toward a more positive direction. Now, we aren’t here to put a dampener on this positive news, but one prime plastic offender has been left out of the conversation – the plastic tampon applicator.
The problem with plastic applicators
Not long ago, it was revealed that 1.3 billion plastic applicators end up in landfill every year in the UK. Each individual applicator takes a minimum of 400 years to breakdown. It’s shocking to think that every applicator we’ve ever used will remain on the planet in landfill for longer than we’ll be here.
Not only this, but many applicators if flushed (a big no, no) can end up littered over beaches and harming marine life. Find out why you shouldn’t flush your period products here.
So, how do we wave goodbye to plastic applicators?
In an ideal world, the companies and corporations would step up and stop manufacturing them and, we should be playing our part in encouraging them to do so. But there are many sustainable alternatives to plastic applicators that we can be switch to and immediately reduce our own plastic period waste. Read on for some suggestions.
Try swapping plastic for cardboard. Cardboard applicators are biodegradable and will break down naturally and quickly in landfill. We know that some people find cardboard applicators a little trickier to use than plastic ones, so here are some tips.
If cardboard applicators aren’t your thing, you can ditch applicators altogether by switching to non-apps. By removing applicators all together, you’re immediately reducing your waste and using only what’s needed.
If you can’t get on board with cardboard applicators or non-apps, but still you’re still eager to ditch those single-use plastic applicators, then a reusable applicator could be perfect for you. The reusable applicator is a one-off purchase and can be used for years. You simply place a non-applicator tampon into the reusable applicator and insert like you normally would. The applicator is then washed and reused, time and time again, cutting down the amount of waste you send to landfill on your period.
Menstrual cups are for you if you like the idea of ditching tampons altogether. They’re a zero-waste period care solution that can save you a LOT of money in the long run. Find everything you need to know about menstrual cups here.
Menstrual cups aren’t for everyone. Some people don’t have the mobility to use them, can’t use them due to a menstrual condition or simply don’t get on with them. If this is the case for you, period pants might be a better zero-waste period care option for you. Period pants have a pad sewn into the gusset which absorbs your menstrual flow. It’s best to get more than one pair as after you have worn them for the stated amount of time you will need to rinse them in cold water then wash them.
But what about bio-plastics?
Many companies are offering ‘bio-plastics’ or ‘plant-based’ alternatives. Whilst these are marketed as being sustainable and appear to be the better option, it’s important to be wary of them. They can only be disposed of through industrial composters (there is only 18 currently in the whole of the UK). These also act the same as normal plastic applicators if they are flushed or end up in the oceans/across beaches.
We hope this blog has given you an insight into why we should be ditching plastic applicators and given you more information about the growing number of alternatives that are available. What do you use on your period? Come chat to us on socials.