BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 15 Oct '19

It’s Environmenstrual week – and time to cut 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.

For international Environmenstrual Week (12-19 October), City to Sea is asking people with periods to take a stand against the hidden plastics in period products by switching to reusables or plastic-free alternatives.

Five bags per pad

A staggering  4.3 billion  disposable menstrual products are used in the UK every year, and most of them contain 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.

‘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 everyday lives.’

SOPHIE HELLYER
Ambassador for City to Sea’s Plastic Free Periods campaign

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!

Period plastic pollution

As part of its campaign for plastic-free periods, City to Sea has launched a new film, Turning Tides, in collaboration with a female directing duo. It highlights 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.

Supermarket sanitary products

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).

‘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.’

CAL MAJOR
Ambassador for City to Sea’s Plastic Free Periods campaign


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.

‘We want to 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.’

NATALIE FEE
Founder of City to Sea

On 19 August 2019 Sainsbury’s confirmed it is stopping the production and sale of its own-brand plastic tampon applicators, following a targeted campaign co-ordinated by Ella Daish.

Ella Daish is a postal worker who started the campaign to ‘Make all Menstrual Products Plastic Free’ in February 2018, and was shortlisted for a 2018 P.E.A. Award.

As part of its Environmenstrual Week activity, City to Sea is 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 it gives you the choice to have plastic-free periods. If you manage to find plastic-free period products, let the world know on social media.

Share 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.