4 March, 2021
This week, New Zealand followed Scotland in tackling period poverty by announcing it will offer free period products in schools. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that these two countries, the first to make this step, are both led by women.
This got us thinking: can governments also put pressure on the brands they’re buying from to prioritise sustainability? Unfortunately, the environmental impact of periods is significant. One pack of pads equates to roughly four plastic bags’ worth of plastic, and around 2.5m tampons and 1.4m sanitary towels are flushed down the toilet (which they shouldn’t be) every day in the UK, meaning a lot of this plastic ends up in the ocean.
Until recently, Sanitary products had barely changed since the 1930s, apart from having more plastic added to them, until recently. Now, challenger brands are breaking the mould and innovating – with sustainability front and centre.
There’s Dame, with its well-designed reusable tampon applicator. Ohne’s tampons are wrapped in paper. A new wave of menstrual cups offer another reusable alternative to tampons. Meanwhile, Callaly has innovated on the tampon itself, and its pads come in compostable wrappers. If none of the above float your boat, ‘period underwear’ like Modibodi removes the need to wear extra products with your pants at all.
These challengers are a refreshing example of sustainability driving innovation. And, whilst in some cases there are high upfront costs, the savings over the course of the lifetime of these products can be substantial. Many of these brands also employ a one-for-one model, and donate products to those in need.
It’s great to see this wave of change – our hope is that it also serves to push mainstream brands to help consumers reduce their footprints too.
By Cara McEvoy