This article first appeared in our Organic September issue of My Green Pod Magazine, published 08 September 2023. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox
Period pants, shampoo bars and deodorant sticks are just some of the ways we’ve been able to innovate around plastics in personal care – all crucial moves considering we only recycle 50% of our packaging in the bathroom (compared with 90% in the kitchen). But what about pregnancy tests?
12.5 million pregnancy tests are taken in the UK each year, and after they’ve served their purpose they’re almost always sent to landfill.
Lara Solomon – who confesses she is ‘a bit of a serial entrepreneur’ – created Hoopsy, a new pregnancy test made from 99% paper, after spotting a yawning gap in the market.
‘In 2021 I did two donor embryo transfers to try to get pregnant and joined a number of Facebook groups of women trying to conceive’, Lara tells us. ‘I kept seeing lots of photos of sometimes as many as 15 plastic pregnancy tests, and couldn’t believe the amount of single-use plastic that was being used for literally five minutes. I looked into it and discovered there was no sustainable alternative to the standard midstream pregnancy test – the most popular type – and decided I was going to do it.’
The standard plastic midstream tests break down into polluting microplastics in a process that takes around 30 years in landfill.
‘In some cases, when a woman gets pregnant her mum’s pregnancy test will still be in landfill somewhere’, Lara points out.
The Hoopsy test is essentially a larger version of the strip tests designed to be dipped into a cup of wee, but unlike standard tests they are made from 99% paper.
‘We have reduced the amount of plastic as much as we can without developing a new material’, Lara explains. For context, most midstream plastic tests contain about 9g of plastic, while the Hoopsy test contains just 0.02g.
The obvious question: are plastic-free tests as effective as their conventional counterparts? ‘Yes!’, Lara assures us. ‘Hoopsy is over 99% accurate – just as accurate as the other tests sold.’
As with all pregnancy tests you get the most accurate results when the test is taken the day your period is due, but you can use Hoopsy to test up to five days earlier. The results are also easy to read, with one red line for negative and two for positive.
The Hoopsy test material is more like card than paper; ’It dries out nicely’, Lara assures us, ‘so if you want to save your positive test in a scrapbook you can. The tests are also easy to write on, which is useful if you want to keep a record of results.’
If you don’t want to keep the test after use, you simply cut it in half and throw the dry end into paper recycling and the rest in the bin.
The Hoopsy pregnancy test costs no more than a standard midstream test on a per-test basis, so if you need to take multiple tests it won’t cost you a small fortune. They are sold in packs of three, five or 10 to help keep costs and unnecessary packaging down.
One of the hardest parts of this journey for Lara was coming up with the brand name; ‘Eventually I came up with Hoopsy because the word ‘hoop’ means ‘hope’ in Dutch, and I think when you are taking a test you are always hoping one way or the other. I added ’s’ because going through your fertility journey (and life) involves a lot of jumping through hoops’.
Thankfully this is one product that makes the journey that little bit less stressful; whatever result you’re hoping for, it will add up to a better result for the planet.