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This small change to period products could save 11 tonnes of plastic every year

Ella Daish is leading a campaign to remove single-use plastics from period products.
Ella Daish is leading a campaign to remove single-use plastics from period products.   -   Copyright  Lauren Shipley
By Rosie Frost

Last year, environmental activist Ella Daish arrived outside the offices of feminine hygiene company, Lil-Lets. She was armed with a placard and a petition.

More than 240,000 people have already signed her petition calling for all menstrual products to be made plastic-free. And her campaigning is getting results.

Lil-lets has announced that from November 2021, it will no longer be making tampons with plastic applicators. Four other companies have followed suit and removed single-use applicators too.

Together this has saved 28 tonnes of plastic each year and encouraged a number of big companies to create new sustainable ranges.

According to the campaign, mainstream period products can be made from up to 90 per cent plastic. Billions of tampons, pads and other products are manufactured, used for just a few hours and then thrown away. They take more than 500 years to break down.

Many are also disposed of the wrong way, too, with around 1.5 billion period products flushed down the toilet each year in the UK alone.

Many are also disposed of the wrong way too, with around 1.5 billion period products flushed down the toilet each year in the UK alone. From here, if they are not captured, they end up in our rivers and oceans, washing up on beaches worldwide.

The rise of reusable period products

Alternatives such as menstrual cups, washable pads, period underwear or reusable applicators are a good place to start.

Daish’s number one tip for ditching plastic on your period is to switch to a sustainable version of the product you use. Alternatives such as menstrual cups, washable pads, period underwear or reusable applicators are a good place to start.

“If you use plastic tampon applicators, opting for a reusable applicator is a fantastic way of cutting down on single-use plastic,” Daish recommends.

People who menstruate use more than 11,000 disposable products in their lifetime costing a total of £18,450 (€21,318), according to the Women’s Environmental Network.

Daish says switching to reusable products is a “win-win” decision, “you save money and use less resources which is kinder to the planet.”

Lil-Lets UK Ltd 2021
Lil-Lets is producing a reusable applicator to replace single-use plastics.Lil-Lets UK Ltd 2021

Alongside ditching single-use plastics, Lil-Let’s is also launching a reusable tampon applicator. It says that by using this instead, you can save an average of 268 single-use applicators from being thrown away.

“It’s fantastic to see a major brand like Lil-Lets really leading the change in the period industry by not only removing plastic applicators from their products but also stepping into the reusable market with their applicator,” says Daish.

“We need more companies to follow their lead in taking steps that are better for people and the planet.”