By Jenn (TinyChoices.com) | September 7, 2007
Can you talk about tampons..after all this time I’m still not using the healthy environmental ones…I need to know more about tampons and why [I shouldn't use] the typical ones ?
The topic of menstruation, and of alternative menstruation products, is a Very Important One which Tiny Choices is planning to talk about in detail soon… but for now we’ll stick to your question and just focus on tampons.
First, some facts about your average, run-of-the-mill (non-organic) tampon:
- All tampons used to be, and some tampons still are, chlorine bleached. Dioxin is a by-product of the chlorine-bleaching process and collects in the fatty tissues of animals (including humans). Even low levels of dioxin may be linked to immune system problems, cancer, endometriosis, and low sperm counts.
- Many average tampons contain rayon as at least part of the tampon body. Rayon is made from wood pulp, which seems innocuous enough until you figure in the environmental nightmare of deforestation, milling, and transportation. Also, rayon increases the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrom (TSS).
- Most tampons include non-organic cotton, which, as a crop, uses over ONE BILLION TONS of pesticides and herbicides per year. Pesticides and herbicides all up in my girlie bits? No thanks.
- Most cotton grown in the U.S. is now genetically modified.
- Tampon applicators, aka “beach whistles” wash up on beaches worldwide in truly alarming quantities–and the plastic ones will take a thousand years or so to degrade.
- “Deoderant” tampons have chemical perfumes added, which can cause internal irritation.
Personally, and you may feel differently, these are all things that I really don’t want in my sensitive and absorbent nether regions. Here’s a test to try from EMagazine-The Enviornmental Magazine (2004) (Editor’s note: I don’t have any tampons on hand with which to test this, so if any of ya’ll do please leave a comment below with the results): “Some college courses on women’s health conduct a simple class demonstration: Place a new tampon in a glass of water. After it absorbs water, remove it, and watch all the remaining fibers floating in the water. These fibers remain inside a woman’s uterus.”
And here’s the FDA’s official site on Tampons and Asbestos, Dioxin, & Toxic Shock Syndrome, in which they state that regular tampons are totally healthy and fine. Well, I know the government never lies or covers up health-related information…
So, these are some reasons you might consider switching to organic cotton tampons. They’re easy to find in any health-food store, and many conventional drug stores stock them now too. And for you DIYers: crochet your own reusable tampons!
Whatever you choose, there are a few conclusions to keep in mind. One: No menstrual product is thoroughly regulated by the FDA. Two: Over the generations, women have stemmed the tide with everything from papyrus to wool, commercial tampons, and quartered kitchen sponges — and lived to tell the tale. Three: Whether you call them beach whistles, New Jersey seashells, LPTs (little pink things), torpedos, finger puppets, dum-dum bullets, or tube fish, plastic applicators are a waste.
- A handy chart comparing conventional and organic cotton.
- Village Voice: Pulling The Plug on the Tampon Industry.
- The Truth About Tampons, by Hannah Holmes
- MUM: Museum of Menstruation
- SPOT: the tampon health website
- Everything You Must Know About Tampons Nancy Friedmen, New York, Berkley Books, 1991
- Sweet Secrets: Stories of Menstruation Kathleen O’Grady and Paula Wansbrough. Toronto: Second Story Press, 1997. ISBN: 0-929005-33-3
- Whitewash Liz Armstrong and Adrienne Scott; Harper, Collins, 1992.
How many of you ladies use organic tampons? How many of you men love ladies who use organic tampons?
Click here for the Q&A archives!
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