Our Survey Says: Women Want Sanitary Companies to Come Clean

28 October 2019 - by Jenna Thompson

Recently, we embarked on a mission to uncover some truths behind how women choose their period products. We wanted to find out how much women knew about the products they were buying, and whether or not their preferences would change if they were more informed. 

Menstrual health is of such critical importance, but we rarely enter into an honest discussion about it. By discussing all aspects of how our decisions impact our personal health and the health of the planet, we hope to empower women to make conscious choices. It’s about time women had a voice about the products so essential to our lives.

Our right to the truth

Today, one-fifth of women in the UK use organic or reusable sanitary products. That means 80 percent of us are still using potentially harmful and planet-toxic supermarket brands. Worst of all, only six percent of us are aware of what our tampons, pads and liners are actually made from. The figures come from a recent survey conducted by Grace and Green over a period of four months, which surveyed more than 2000 women living in the UK.

For any other product that we put into our bodies, there are strict regulations for brands to disclose all of their ingredients on their packaging. So why not for our period products?

We believe women deserve to know exactly what they are putting into their bodies – and so do almost all the women we surveyed. Our results showed that 98 percent of women would welcome full disclosure of the chemicals and materials used in their period products. 

“Considering sanitary products are used on a very absorbent part of the body, we feel it’s only fair that women know exactly what’s in them,” says Frances Lucraft, Founder of Grace and Green. “After all, it shouldn’t be a privilege to know what’s in your period product, but a right.”

The shocking environmental impact

The majority of women in the UK rely on traditional or supermarket brands when it comes to choosing period products – brands like Always, Tampax Lil-lets, Bodyform, Kotex and Superdrug. Yet few of us know what they’re made from. Most sanitary pads and applicator tampons are produced using crude oil plastic; a non-renewable resource that takes up to 800 years to decompose, littering the oceans and harming marine wildlife.

On average, UK women are collectively disposing of 731,203,200 plastic applicators a year.

Once presented with honest information about the environmental impact of their period products, an overwhelming number wanted to switch to a more ecological alternative. Among women who use applicator tampons, 72 percent said knowing the truth affected their purchase preferences. That’s before we even get into the health risks.

We are exposed to chemicals and pesticides daily. They are in our cosmetics, feminine hygiene products – even our food and water. These chemicals and pesticides build up in the body; some pesticides are so toxic they’re causing lethal poisoning in cotton workers.

The vagina is one of the most absorbent and sensitive parts of a woman’s body, yet most supermarket sanitary products contain not just pesticides but rayon, polyester and dioxin – a carcinogenic byproduct of the bleaching process. Over 40 percent of respondents found this worrying.

So why are we being ignored?

Women in the UK are denied the right to know exactly what is in their period products, which means we are unable to make informed decisions. But one thing is clear – the truth changes things. Our survey showed that health and environmental impact are just as important as value for money when it comes to purchasing period products. No wonder traditional brands aren’t keen to disclose their dirty secrets. 

“Women are asking for the opportunity to make an informed choice,” says Frances. “When faced with how their products could be negatively impacting the environment, they really want to make a change to more eco-friendly alternatives. We believe that all menstrual brands have an obligation to consumers to provide them with honest, complete and accurate information about their products.”

Find out more about why we do what we do at Our World.

View the full infographic below.

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Jenna Thompson

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