Update (4th March 2019): The world's first reusable tampon applicator has launched and is available to buy now on the high street – at last. In 2018, the UK-based startup DAME started a crowdfunding campaign to make our periods more eco-friendly, and the product is now available to buy in Waitrose stores for £24.99. The brand says each applicator (which is sold in a box with six tampons) will "save thousands of pieces of plastic", making it even easier for women to cut down the amount of plastic they get through each month. To keep it clean, it just requires a rinse under the tap.
This story was originally published on 1st March 2018.
Periods may be a necessary evil but they can also be seriously inconvenient – from PMS and painful cramps to the financial and potential health ramifications of our chemical-laden sanitary products – and on top of all that, there's the environmental impact.
Environmentally friendly, chemical-free sanitary products do exist, but they're not widely available on the high street, meaning we still often find ourselves using regular plastic-applicator tampons, which are terrible for the environment. The average woman gets through a reported 12,000 tampons in her lifetime, the vast majority of which end up in landfill or the ocean. Most cardboard applicators aren't much better either, as they often contain a plastic coating.
Applicator-free tampons are available, of course, but many women find them awkward to use and would rather not use menstrual cups either, which is where DAME's reusable tampon applicator comes in. The UK-based startup has produced a device to make your period more eco-friendly – even if you only use regular tampons.
The company – whose slogan is "Bleed red. Think green" – created the discreet, dark green applicator from Mediprene, a plastic used in medical products. It's also BPA-free and uses antimicrobial technology to keep it hygienic, meaning you can use it back-to-back with just a rinse under the tap.
Comfort was also high on the company's priorities list, with the device described as "smooth as silk" and designed to prevent leaks. It works in the same way as a regular plastic tampon – just slide the tampon through the applicator and out the other side – and it can be used with tampons of any size.
Celia Pool, cofounder of DAME, said the idea came when the company realised there was little appetite for sustainable sanitary products compared to regular disposable ones. “When we were running a thriving online period subscription service we realised how massive, but silent, the problem of menstrual plastic waste is," she told Refinery29.
"While we offered both disposable and reusable products, virtually no one wanted to buy the sustainable options. That’s when we decided to design our own version of a green tampon that women might actually use."
They decided on dark green for the product, which has been 14 months in the making, because it had the best reviews of all colour options presented to a 30-strong market research group. "It was the only one without any negative connotations, so we had a clear winner," Pool said, adding that they also wanted to "avoid making it look like a sex toy".
Pool believes it's only a matter of time before other businesses will need to think about how they can do their bit for the environment. "The recent press coverage and media campaigns about plastic pollution prove that consumers are waking up to the issue, too. Change needs to happen, but it doesn’t need to be difficult or painful."
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