A staggering 4.3 billion disposable menstrual products are used in the UK every year and a ‘conventional’ menstrual pad contains around the same amount of plastic as four carrier bags. Depending on where it ends up as waste, it could have a longer life-span than the person who uses it! What’s more, although no period products should go down the loo, it’s estimated that every single day in the UK about 700,000 panty liners, 2.5 million tampons and 1.4 million pads are flushed down the toilet – many of which block our sewer systems and escape into our rivers and seas.
The NHS’ recent commitment to provide patients with free periods products presents NHS Trusts with a huge opportunity to reduce plastic pollution, empower women and save them and trusts money in one swoop! We’d like to see NHS trusts providing patients with plastic-free disposables (e.g. TOTM, Hey Girls) as well as reusable alternatives (e.g. Hey Girls, Precious Stars Pads, Mooncup).
Tackling period poverty and plastic pollution can go hand in hand, as No More Taboo, The Cup Effect and Hey Girls have demonstrated. Research shows that over a lifetime you can save up to 94% of what you would have spent on disposable products by switching to reusables. If the NHS can provide free reusable options to patients (as well as the option of plastic-free disposables) then both patients and the NHS stand to make huge financial savings over the following years.
City to Sea are looking for 3 forward-thinking trusts to adopt a pilot scheme whereby plastic-free products (disposable and reusable) are offered to patients who need them. They have printable and online resources to support hospital staff and patients who are interested in trying new products. If you would like to take part email firstname.lastname@example.org