How you can help take the plastic out of periods

The time has come for brands to take responsibility for the unnecessary plastic they're putting into period products. Want to take a stand against period plastic? Keep reading...

The time has come for brands to take responsibility for the unnecessary plastic they're putting into period products. Want to take a stand against period plastic? Keep reading...

When you think of ocean plastic pollution, what comes to mind? You might consider the countless dolphins and wales that have died after ingesting several dozen plastic bags, or visualize helpless turtles with straws caught up their noses.

But one big player when it comes to plastic pollution is one you mightn't have yet considered – tampons.

With an estimated 100 billion period products disposed of annually worldwide, they often enter rivers and oceans and end up on beaches – with period items comprising the fifth most common waste washed up on beaches.

So that’s why in July, Marie Claire decided to take a stand. We got behind environmentalist Ella Daish, who through her #EndPeriodPlastic campaign, is applying pressure to brands and supermarkets to remove plastic from their menstrual products.

Image courtesy of Ella Daish

And so far, Ella’s campaign is gaining traction. In July, the Welsh government made a landmark decision whereby 50% of all period poverty funding would be spent on eco-friendly products. Brands have also started taking responsibility, with Superdrug announcing in May that it has removed all plastic applicators from its own-brand tampons.

But we need to keep pounding on the pressure.

Superdrug’s decision to go applicator-free will save around 418kg of plastic waste each year, but it remains the only big health and beauty retailer in the UK to make the move so far. Despite meeting with Ella last year to discuss how they could bring about environmental change, Procter & Gamble, owners of Tampax and Always, have failed to make any changes.

That’s why on Monday, the #EndPeriodPlastic campaign launched two weeks of action on Tampax to remove plastic tampon applicators from their products.

‘Over a year has passed since I met Procter & Gamble and despite being a global company and a period industry giant, they have failed to make any changes. This is not good enough’, Ella said.

She continued: ‘Tampax continues to pump out unnecessary plastic with no consideration of the negative environmental impacts. Something must change and that’s why I am launching action, to hold Tampax to account by calling on them to take responsibility by stopping this pointless plastic at source.’

Over the next 12 days, there will be loads of ways to support the campaign’s action on Tampax. If you keep an eye on Ella's Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, you'll see daily updates about what else you can do to get involved.

Action you can take today:

Write a letter to Tampax about why you want them to ditch plastic tampon applicators. All letters sent will be hand delivered by Ella to their headquarters. The more letters dropped off, the bigger the impact – so if you’re passionate about ending period plastic, pen it down.

What to write:

The more personal your letter, the better. So here’s some ideas as to what you can include:

  • Why you want them to ditch plastic tampon applicators
  • That it is an unnecessary plastic and that there are plenty of alternatives
  • Do you find them polluting your local environment or a beach nearby? If you do, definitely include that
  • Say why you won’t use Tampax anymore

Where to send your letter:

Tampax Action PO Box 5512 BRIGHTON BN50 8QG

All letters will be sent to Ella’s PO box but will not be opened by her. She's set to hand deliver them to Tampax HQ in the near future.

Come on girls, let's take a stand - period.

Niamh McCollum

Niamh McCollum is Features Assistant at Marie Claire UK, and specialises in entertainment, female empowerment, mental health, social development and careers. Tackling both news and features, she's covered everything from the rise of feminist audio porn platforms to the latest campaigns protecting human rights.

Niamh has also contributed to our Women Who Win series by interviewing ridiculously inspiring females, including forensic scientist Ruth Morgan, Labour MP Stella Creasy and ITV’s former Home Affairs Editor Jennifer Nadel.

Niamh studied Law in Trinity College Dublin. It was after enrolling in a Law & Literature class on her year abroad in Toronto that her love of writing was reignited. In no particular order, her big likes are Caleb Followill, hoops, red wine, sea swimming, shakshuka and long train journeys.