I was reminded about one of my pet peeves the other day while walking down the alley behind my house. As I approached the bottom of the hill, there was this curious piece of trash laying near a storm drain. It was bright baby blue, torpedo shaped, with a curious perforation at the tip, then it struck me, it was a tampon applicator. I felt the annoyance that began 20 plus years ago begin to resurface. I recalled a news story about sewage outfall that happened in Los Angeles or was it Long Island and the beaches were covered with syringes and tampon applicators. I remember hearing the disgust in people’s voices when they spoke about it, but here we are 20 years later and women are still using them. Women are not just using these little pieces of plastic, they are flushing them down the toilet, for them to end up in our waterways or on our beaches and leaving them on hiking trails in the woods.
I was awestruck when I did a google search on the term “plastic tampon applicator environment” and the results brought back not only information about how they are part of the plastic waste found in our ocean, but discussion threads with questions/discussions asking if plastic tampon applicators could be flushed or recycled, whether plastic was better than cardboard. A little more searching and I found the blog post from The Chic Ecologist that gives a scientific essay of information, quoting the life cycle of a tampon based on an analysis by some smart folks in Stockholm, that basically says the worst part of a tampon applicator is that it is PLASTIC. Do we really have to have PhDs to figure this out folks?
Plastics in our environment is a very serious thing, of course climate change is even more serious, but the great thing about this problem is that WE humans can do something about it. We can choose not to buy tampons with plastic applicators, one seemingly small step for the environment, but think about the cumulative effects if you and your friends do it, then their friends and so on and so on. How powerful will it be when by your one simple action may force playtex or kotex to never make tampons with plastic applicators again?
What about your health?
I just found a post about moldy tampons found in, you guessed it a plastic applicator. There is little evidence that says tampons are unhealthy, they are safe to use unless you leave one in for longer than the prescribed time (don’t leave it in for a day okay) and truthfully there are more important questions for your health you should be asking, like should I begin an exercise routine (the answer is yes).
But you don’t want to touch yourself or get blood over your hands?
Get over it. You are a beautiful female human, embrace that, love that and live with that. A woman’s menstrual cycle is a miraculously beautiful thing that should be celebrated not cursed. It leads to making those cute little baby humans, who are our future. They will also be the ones who will be picking up and figuring out how to deal with our plastic trash for generations to come.
I have used tampons without an applicator for well over 20 years. I started in high school, it was the 80s and they were just coming out. I hated applicators, they would poke, slip and I usually ended up using my finger to get the ill formed piece of cotton up my vagina. I knew back then that plastic was bad for the environment so plastic applicators were never an option for me. It was a revolution when the small little tampons that had a place for my fingertip came out. My finger expertly guided this little plug into place, no poking, no slipping and there it stayed until I returned to the bathroom. I felt emancipated as a woman, in control of how my tampon was placed. You too can be emancipated from applicators, cardboard or plastic, just use your finger.