Procter & Gamble shocked to find giant tampon applicator on doorstep

Environmental activist Ella Daish crossed the threshold of Procter & Gamble’s European headquarters this week to protest against single-use plastic in vintage products.

She was attempting to deliver a giant tampon applicator constructed from vintage plastic that was polluting local beaches, waterways and ecosystems in the UK.

The protest artwork is made up of 1,200 applicators from 15 different locations across the country.

Of the plastic applicators collected for the project, 87.5% were from Tampax, one of Procter & Gamble’s top performing brands.

Tampax controls 29% of the tampon market, but has yet to follow through on Daish’s campaign to “reduce or eliminate plastic from their tampons and pads.”

The #EndPeriodPlastic movement has already successfully encouraged three UK retailers to move away from plastic applicators. Aldi, Sainsbury’s and Superdrug have responded to the move by removing single-use plastic from their branded tampons.

It’s time to make a change

Daish started her End Period Plastic campaign in February 2018, while working as a postwoman.

Of the 10 stamp retailers and manufacturers she spoke to throughout her project, Procter & Gamble was the least responsive.

“I’ve been running this campaign for over three and a half years and although being the world leader in these products, they are doing nothing,” says Daish.

“I met Tampax in May 2019 and nothing has changed. It is not good enough.

The British environmentalist says she is fed up with the apology Tampax posted online, highlighting a particularly infuriating article in which plastic applicators are posed in the shape of a wind turbine.

“Just because they use wind power to pump millions of single-use plastic applicators without considering negative environmental impacts doesn’t make it sustainable.”

It is now calling on the American multinational to tackle vintage plastic by making three commitments:

  • Remove the single-use plastic applicators from the Tampax ranges.
  • Start working on reducing and eliminating plastic in Tampax and Always products.
  • Develop and launch reusable alternatives.

Daish hopes the industry giant realizes that “the time for change is now.

“They constantly attribute ownership of this problem to the individual, but they have the money and the power to influence the change.”

How bad are vintage plastic products for the environment?

Vintage single-use products can take ages to decompose, and most plastic applicators cannot be recycled at all.

The Institution of Environmental Science estimates that approximately 2.5 million tampons are flushed down the toilet every day in the UK. If wastewater is released into the environment, it means that plastic applicators can end up in aquatic ecosystems.

“I’ve lost count of the photos people sent me of applicators polluting their area, from the islands of Scotland to the Cornish coast, and of the waterways in cities like London and Southampton,” Daish explains.

“Even crabs in the Thames are found with stomachs full of plastic, including that of vintage tampons.”

What are the most durable menstrual products?

While Procter & Gamble has been reluctant to reduce plastic in its products, many companies around the world are now manufacturing period products respectful of the environment.

THINX and Modi bodi have developed 100% absorbent underwear for women who want to reduce their plastic footprint every month. Comfortable and stylish, the pants are designed to absorb menstrual flow, which means pads and tampons are not needed.

If absorbent underwear isn’t your thing, menstrual cups can save over 2,500 disposables, according to the brand & Sisters. The cup can be used up to 12 hours before needing to be emptied – that’s four times longer than an average tampon.

Another way to go for a greener time is to buy a reusable applicator. Buying just one means you can use it every time you change your tampon.

Since the launch of its reusable applicator, Lady claims to have prevented 122 million pieces of single-use plastic from being thrown away. The applicator is made from self-sterilizing Mediprene and is packaged in recycled materials.

What’s next for the #EndPeriodPlastic campaign?

As the success of Daish’s campaign continues to grow, she is now looking for new ways to spread the pollution message of the period.

The British activist is the star of an upcoming feature documentary from Outpost Pictures, who have been working with Daish since spring 2021.

The film follows the work of the postwoman-turned-environmental activist as she takes on global brands in a bid to rid the world of unnecessary plastic from vintage products.

She is currently traveling across Europe to raise awareness about single-use plastic pollution in the vintage industry.

Watch the video above to learn more.

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