Did you know that you shouldn't be flushing your tampons down the toilet? Did you know that it's really, really bad for the environment and for the water systems? According to new research by Anglian Water, alarming amounts of women are totally oblivious to the ramifications of bidding their tampons farewell via the old porcelain shoot.
That is rather bad news when you consider that approximately 9.4 million women use tampons every month which, according to the research, totals twenty tampons per period, per person – 60% of which are being flushed. That means that after some very quick mental arithmetics, around 1.4 billion tampons are being flushed through our sewage systems every year.
And why does this matter? It matters because these flushed tampons are turning up in sewers and rivers. Emma Staples, a spokesperson from Anglican Water, breaks it down like this:
“The UK’s sewers and pumping stations weren’t built to cope with wet wipes, tampons or other sanitary items. When flushed they don’t disintegrate like toilet paper and they cause blockages. That can mean nasty smells, or worse still a higher risk of flooding and pollution of your home and the environment. The reality is most women don’t know they shouldn’t flush tampons, and the same is true of wipes – and it’s no wonder. The packaging on these products is confusing and that’s why we are calling on manufacturers to make this clearer."
In a bid to raise awareness around the risks of flushing tampons, Anglican Water have teamed up with entrepreneur Martha Silcott, who created FabLittleBag, a biodegradable container for used tampons that's actually pretty discreet. They trialled the bag on 342 Mumsnet users after they learned that 62% of the women surveyed admitted to disposing of sanitary products in the toilet.
With George Osborne having gone rather quiet over Cameron's promise to end tampon tax in the UK, coupled with scary reports from 60 million consumers suggesting that major sanitary product providers may produce tampons containing toxic residue, the conversation around how we're meeting women's needs is pressing.
It seems, as women, we're perpetually faced with the dilemma of either sacrificing our own comfort in favour of something like a moon cup, or neglecting both our health and the environment. All for what is, quite frankly, not a particularly hilarious few days per month anyway.