The Health Hazards Lurking in Sanitary Products


I need to talk about tampons. Not the prettiest subject but that’s probably why we don’t talk about them very much. And why I haven’t thought about them very much.

Sanitary products have been around since the 1930s and women everywhere are forever grateful, but the materials they are made of have barely changed in that time. Conventional products are made of Rayon – the man-made fibre created from cellulose wood pulp (cue the slaying of many trees), non-organic cotton (bad for farmers, waterways and wildlife) and synthetic materials like polypropylene (non-biodegradable). That’s not to mention the widespread use of plastic tampon applicators that take 25 years to biodegrade, littering our seas in the meantime.

So I think it’s safe to say sanitary products are bad for the environment, but that’s not all. Conventional products are also treated with a whole host of nasties. These can include chlorine to increase absorbency and make the products white and chemical fragrance. Rayon and viscose fibres can shed in use, leaving behind dioxins that cling to the vaginal wall. Not something I want in my intimate parts. The World Health Organisation claims that dioxins are highly toxic, interfering with the immune system and hormonal balance. The crazy thing is there is no in-depth scientific research on the impact of using these sanitary products (or is it that surprising really?) but for those of us who like to avoid toxic chemicals wherever possible there are alternatives.

TOTM make organic tampons and sanitary towels, 100% free from pesticides, chemical fertilisers, perfume and bleach. They only use cardboard applicators and their products are 95% biodegradable. Healthier for the planet and the women using them, they offer a subscription service so you can have supplies sent straight to your door (or you can submit one-off orders). A box of 10 regular applicator tampons cost £2.80 – more expensive than cardboard applicator Tampax but about the same as their fanciest pearl compak.

I’m converted.

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London’s First Pop Up Forest Comes to Seven Dials on International Car Free Day


The Portas Review has been back in the spotlight recently as Mary faced MPs on the communities and local government select committee with an updated plan to save the British high street. With financial backing from the Department for Communities and Local Government, Portas helped to establish 27 “Portas Pilots” but now faces criticism that it was nothing more than a PR stunt for her television career and that little, if anything, has actually improved. High streets now fall on an extreme scale, where at one end we have empty towns with struggling shops and a total lack of investment and at the other end we have affluent market towns and pockets of London thriving on a culture of indies and coffee shops.

Covent Garden is in stark contrast to the Portas Pilot towns, yet the press release which landed in my inbox, and which I will now go on and tell you about, got me thinking about this extreme (North/South?) divide we have. So, 21st September is International Car Free Day and if you scurry along to Seven Dials on this day you will find a whole host of lovely things going on as Camden Council plays host to a one-of-a-kind pop-up forest to celebrate walking and cycling. Sixty trees will be temporarily plotted around the central dial monument in Covent Garden’s shopping village and the whole of Seven Dials will be transformed into a car-free haven. For one weekend only, you don’t have to choose shopping OR the great outdoors, you can do both. Shoppers – Camden Council are bringing the trees TO YOU.

Seven Dials

The initiative is to encourage people to walk and cycle more, using greener modes of travel to improve health and reduce pollution. No doubt the streets will be brought to life with face painting, floor art, and interactive activities. Camden Council will be showcasing their new “Air Quality Bubble Map” and Kings College London will be there with fun air quality activities and advice. It’s the perfect example of using the high street (if you can call Covent Garden that) in a different way, for fun, learning and social interaction.

Stores will also be offering one-off discounts and gifts. So who is this really for?
Once the day is over all trees will be moved and planted in new plots across the borough of Camden for people to enjoy on a permanent basis. All of this is good. I think I’m just hinting at something the Government really needs to consider their place on with initiatives like the Portas Review – is the economy of central importance over sustainability and wellbeing? Can we be using the high streets in different ways, ways which perhaps don’t generate revenue? Am I being idealist? Babbling? Probably.
You should go though, it sounds fun. I’ll be in the New Forest.

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