Interestingly enough (but not surprising), the astounding waste that disposable tampons and pads create is pretty hard to track down. Turns out, this plastic waste is deemed “medical waste” and was left unnoticed for years. Rough estimates show that in 2018, women in the U.S. purchased over 5.8 million tampons and ONE woman, in her lifetime, could use anywhere from 5-15 THOUSAND pads and tampons. Guess where those thousands of pads and tampons end up? Yep….in the trash bin.
If you would like to read a ton more on how plastic became such a “norm” in the menstrual world, check out this amazing blog post by National Geographic. It’s a fantastic read!
Toxic Shock Syndrome
I’ll never forget that day in the theatre class when I was just 17 years old. I had finally got up the nerve to try out a tampon for the first time (pads were driving me absolutely nuts) and within hours of inserting, my skin turned pale white and I nearly fainted in front of my teacher. I attended an all-girls high school right outside of Chicago at the time and the very first thing my teacher asked me was, “Are you wearing a tampon?”
Looking back, I cannot even believe it. How many girls had nearly fainted, or fainted, in front of this woman in all her years of teaching at this school? I was sent to the nurse’s office and then the doctor. Turns out, I was one of many young women who got Toxic Shock Syndrome from the use of tampons. TSS is typically caused by an overgrowth of bacteria called Staphylococcus aureus. Each year toxic shock syndrome affects about 1 in 100,000 women but the numbers have been on the rise since the popularity of tampons has increased.
Toxic Shock Syndrome began when the tampon companies introduced artificial fibers into the tampons for better absorbency. These fibers are still used today despite this issue and this is something that we all need to be aware of.
Toxic Chemicals Found in Tampons
Toxic chemicals found in tampons include aluminum, fragrance additives, alcohols, and hydrocarbons. Some tampons also contain dioxin that is leftover from bleaching. Dioxin is a very toxic chemical that has been linked to cancer and is not even legal to use in Europe.