Ending plastic pollution from menstrual products, period.

As the world wakes-up to the impact of plastic pollution caused by single-use bottles and packaging, another big issue has come to the surface. It’s one that old-fashioned taboos often prevent us Brits from talking about … period product pollution.
This Environmenstrual week (12 – 19 October), plastic pollution campaigning organization, City to Sea are asking people with periods to take a stand against the hidden plastics in period products by switching to reusables or plastic-free alternatives.

A staggering 4.3 billion disposable menstrual products are used in the UK every year with most of them containing single-use plastic in some form. A ‘conventional’ pack of disposable menstrual pads contains around the same amount of plastic as five carrier bags. Tampons also contain a plastic weave. A reported 50% of these are flushed, creating sewer blockages and ending up as pollution on our beaches or in our ocean. As we are all learning, this plastic pollution kills marine life and makes its way into our food chain in the form of microplastics!

A recent report found that menstrual products are the fifth most common item found on Europe’s beaches, more widespread than single-use coffee cups, cutlery, straws or even plastic bags.
But the tide is turning!

City to Sea, the award-winning campaigners championing plastic free periods, have launched a new film, ‘Turning Tides,’ in collaboration with a female directing duo Lucy Hawes and Jo Guthrie, to highlight the issue of plastic pollution in our oceans caused by period products. The film is backed by leading watersports figures Laura Crane, Tanya Streeter, Sophie Hellyer and Cal Major. It is part of City to Sea’s wider Plastic Free Periods campaign, to empower people with periods and provide them with choice when it comes to what they put in and close to their bodies every month.

Natalie Fee, founder of City to Sea said: “Turning Tides highlights our deep and vital connection with the ocean through punchy visuals of global coastlines and female surfers, and a soundscape composed entirely of recordings made from plastic pollution. Every riverbank and beach in the world is littered with plastic, and citizens are waking up and seeking simple ways to protect what they love.”
She continued: “We want highlight and ultimately stop hidden plastics in period products. They’re totally unnecessary and choking our oceans and yet many people have absolutely no idea that the products they put in their bodies – and potentially flush – contain plastic. We’re now calling on people to join us in telling manufacturers and retailers to stop the tide of period plastic and make it easier for people to have #PlasticFreePeriods.”
Almost half of British people with periods purchase their products from supermarkets. Those who haven’t switched to #PlasticFreePeriods say that their main barrier was the lack of availability of plastic-free products where they shop (City to Sea survey, 2019)

As part of their Environmenstrual Week activity, City to Sea are launching a social media campaign to call out retailers and demand more choice when it comes to period products. To get involved, visit your local supermarket and find out whether they give you the choice to have plastic free periods. If you manage to find plastic free period products, let the world know on social media by sharing a photo or video, tagging the retailer and using #BloodySuccess. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, tag the retailer and use a #BloodyShame.

Surfer and Love Island star, Laura Crane, who is an ambassador for City to Sea’s Plastic Free Periods campaign said: “The ocean and my body have been there for me since I can remember and now it’s time for me to be there for them! That’s why I have chosen to back this campaign and say NO to single use menstrual products FOREVER!”
Ex-pro surfer and open water swimmer, Sophie Hellyer, also an ambassador for City to Sea’s Plastic Free Periods campaign said: “I’ve had used period products land on my board and float past while I’m surfing, not cool! To protect what I value – the ocean and my body – I chose plastic-free periods. I hope that this film highlights the connection between what we love – the ocean – and the products we chose in our every-day lives.”

Record breaking paddle-boarder, Cal Major said: “Whether we feel connected to the oceans or not, they produce over half the oxygen we breathe on Earth. They are precious to so many of us surfers, stand up paddleboarders and swimmers for our wellbeing, but they are essential to all of us for sustaining our life on this planet. We can’t afford to let plastic pollution destroy them, and switching to reusable period products is one of the simplest ways we women can minimise our plastic footprint.”