My Ethical Endeavours:
Should I consider changing my feminine care brand?
My ethical journey started when I was pregnant with my first child. I became extremely careful about what I would put into and on my body. It was like an animal instinct. I wanted to protect my offspring. Once my first child was born I took every precaution to make sure he had the most natural products I could find. I suppose it also came from my upbringing too. My parents would always go down the natural route before I was given any medicine. Funny that because I became a pharmacist! I worked in the NHS for a decade and after my son was born we moved abroad and I became a full time mother. There was a fantastic shop where I was living full of organic products from all over the world and that got me really interested in ethical products.
My definition of being ‘ethical’ is no animal cruelty, natural ingredients, kind to the environment and kind to people. I do feel that we live in a branded society and that we are using to many chemicals when back in the good old days we used natural ingredients, we knew where our food came from and didn’t have so much excess waste. My journey began by researching and changing my habits. I now think twice before I make any purchases. By doing a little research on the net products ranging from A-Z can be ethically rated. From fashion, food, furniture, cars, toiletries, electrical appliances, banks to travel. My next few blogs will highlight some of these products that I have found on the way.
My first one is sanitary wear, very gender specific I know but I thought it was an important one considering my recent experience. I couldn’t believe it myself but my 9 year old daughter was having a talk about puberty at school. I remembered having this talk when I was at senior school and I didn’t even know what they were going on about. Yes girls are starting their periods much earlier and I did try to look into this. There is no defined reason as to why but obesity, stress, climate, light cycles and chemical exposures could play a part.
I had to talk to my young daughter about periods-most of which she already knew! At school they showed her some sanitary wear and so I decided to show her some alternatives to what you find advertised. I have started to use organic feminine care because of my ethical beliefs. It is not proven that organic sanitary wear is better for you but I decided to make the switch and the majority of my sanitary wear is organic. I have been trying ‘Natracare’. I will admit that the organic ones I use are not the best at absorption and so there are circumstances when I use the normal ones. Having said that, primarily I now use organic versions because I try to use as many natural options as possible plus there is the environmental factor to consider. The packaging and ingredients on the alternative products are far more eco-friendly.
Even Jessica Alba has her own brand of organics although since a famous actress has got into this line of business I found a few articles stating that non-organic sanitary wear is just as safe as the non-organic ones. At least people are talking about it.
These are my findings from what I have read. Manufacturers do not need to disclose their ingredients. It has been stated that conventional feminine products may contain some of the following: non-organic cotton, viscose, rayon (made from wood pulp), plastics, petrochemicals, supers absorbent powers, pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, genetically-modified products, odour neutralizers and fragrances. These products are also chlorine bleached which creates dioxin as a by-product linked to being an organic pollutant and carcinogenic to humans.
I have read that the conventional products could be a reason why some women suffer with allergies, itchiness, soreness or dryness.
I must remind everyone about reading the cautions on Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) provided in all tampon packets. With regards to TSS it is difficult to prove when there is not enough research or statistics out there and conflicting reports. When you read the websites on conventional tampon companies they state that their products are safe however there is a flipside stating that use of 100% cotton tampons may reduce the risk of TSS compared with tampons that contain rayon. I also found conflicting reports on TSS when using menstrual cups and sponges.
I believe that I must help my daughter reduce her exposure to potential dangers no matter what form they come in and that's why I decided to look into more natural options.
Here are some examples of the alternate brands out there:
Natracare: “High quality, organic and natural feminine hygiene products with confidence. Soft, certified organic cotton and totally chlorine free, plastic free, biodegradable materials means Natracare only leaves a soft footprint on the earth.” www.natracare.com
Photo by M Jhanjee
Naty: “Top sheet made of natural material. No plastic. 100% compostable. Absorbent core made of Totally Chlorine Free pulp. GM-free corn based film. All our womencare products are free from latex. ” www.naty.com
Organ(y)c: “Unlike most feminine care brands, Organ(y)c contains no synthetics, no SAPs (super absorbent powders) and no wood pulp. For good hygiene, we bleach only in hydrogen peroxide, a naturally occurring disinfectant. Organ(y)c is made with organic cotton.” www.organyc.uk
Mooncup: “The original silicone menstrual cup designed by women to be a convenient, safe and eco-friendly alternative to tampons and sanitary pads. Loved by women all around the world, and made in the UK by a multi-award winning ethical business, the Mooncup menstrual cup offers an end to the waste, discomfort and expense of disposable sanitary protection.” www.mooncup.co.uk
During this journey I also found a whole new world of sanitary wear on this site www.earthwisegirls.co.uk. “Earthwise Girls was founded in 2008 to help you find good quality natural products for your body, that won’t harm our world. We will help you to find the natural menstrual products you’re comfortable with using during your period, and because we stock such a broad range of reusable sanitary towels, menstrual cups and sponges, we have everything you could need.”
I never knew myself that reusable sanitary wear even existed.
Image courtesy of Earthwise girls
You may be wondering about cost comparisons. I did a few comparing the leading brand to an organic brand and it worked out the same. Earthwise Girls have a cost comparison of reusable versus disposable sanitary wear. You can get deals by shopping in bulk online and waiting for offers.
When I first looked for these products I had to source them from ethical websites. The problem I find with online ordering is that you have to buy a lot for free delivery but then again I ended up buying other ethical items as well. I have since found these products at the following places. Ocado, Waitrose, Abel & Co, Ethical Superstore, Amazon, Holland and Barrett and Earthwise Girls.
When I was young I hardly remember even talking about periods. My mum and I did converse a little but I was lucky to have an older sister who had been through it and so we were quite open about it. My mother did mention something about when she was growing up in India and how it was a taboo subject and she remembers using any old cloth she could find. This was highlighted again to me last year when a young lady, Kiran Gandhi, ran the London Marathon without using any sanitary wear. She did this to highlight the issue of women around the world who don’t have access to sanitary wear. I honestly thought this wasn’t the case in this day and age but it still does exist. I found charities and lots of articles about this subject. Some girls cannot afford to buy sanitary wear. I read that many girls miss days off school and are open to infections because of the items they use. This media attention also highlighted the fact that sanitary wear is actually taxed here in the UK.
My intention for this is to highlight the alternatives to girls and women out there to give them the choice. I wanted to impart this knowledge to my daughter who will be starting a journey into womanhood very soon. I feel that if she can consciously reduce her exposure to chemicals whenever she can, it will be a step in the right direction to avoid possible future health issues.
I hope that I have enlightened you all.
With thanks to Maggie Jhanjee for this wonderful work!