The more progress we see women making in the world, the more the media begins to reflect that. Commercials are portraying a much stronger independent woman in order to keep their businesses afloat. Claiming “your worth it,” and that we as women “deserve the best.” Commercials have changed from women with vacuum bags, to women driving cars, in the military, as doctors, and even feminine hygiene ads are now dominated by female athletes.
Feminine hygiene is unsurprisingly one of the largest industries in the country. Commercials for these products often suggest that we have reached a point of openness in discussing menstruation, while at the same time enforcing the stigma by using language like "sanitizes," "deodorizes," and "so small you can hide it in your purse." They sell the ability to feel comfortable despite your "icky" secret.
Recently, I came across a study that claims 85% of store-bought cotton products contain glyphosate, a popular herbicide—you may know it better as Monsanto's controversial RoundUp. The study by Dr. Damian Marino took place in Argentina; a similar experiment has yet to take place in the US despite tests that link glyphosate to cancer. Last week, the FDA finally agreed to begin testing food for residual glyphosate, but I suspect testing for non-edible products is not around the corner. We cannot wait for the FDA to catch up while we continue to expose ourselves to harmful chemicals. The problem it that store-bought tampons are not just made of cotton, they are primarily rayon and polyester, which leave residue inside of you. On top of that, they are bleached using a harmful process, and we are still encouraged to put this poison stick inside of us.
Yet these tampon companies are selling us “protection.” Using phrases like “reliable,” “dependable,” and “we’ve got you covered.” It’s unsettling, when you think about it, that “reliable” product is known to cause Toxic Shock Syndrome which can lead to amputation of limbs. Also, tampons and pads are not required by law to disclose a full ingredient list because they are considered ‘medical devices.’ There is no accountability for quality control and people have a right to know what they are exposing themselves to. Enough with these marketing schemes cashing in on all the hard work that people have been putting in to better themselves. There’s nothing inspiring about “buy this cancer-causing product,” so they have to twist the truth, distract us, and draw attention to our insecurities. Constantly showing us what we need to fix or hide, so they can force these unsafe products in our bodies and continue to profit off us.
So I’ve made the effort to cut these carcinogens out of my life and have switched to safer alternatives. I did use a menstrual cup and it was quite effective… until pilates class, when it literally poured a cup of blood on my pants. So although that method works for a lot of people, the anxiety of having it fail on me again was too much and I needed another method. This was when I discovered organic 100% cotton tampons that do not use harmful bleaching processes. Many women write about their Sephora beauty haul, I want to share my feminine hygiene haul. Every month I wanted to go organic but then somehow I was shocked again by my monthly friend. Even after all these years, you think I would expect her— but she still creeps up on me. So I wound up running to the drugstore and getting stuck with another over-priced box of toxic-tampons. But as with any lifestyle change, its going to take changing your habits, so I just order every brand of organic tampons Amazon has to offer.
Natracare was by far my favorite. I have never used a tampon without an applicator and I accidentally ordered a box in every absorbency. I have to say, I am extremely happy with my mistake. Apparently, many applicators are coated in waxy toxins to give you that ‘glide’ insertion. But these applicator-less organic tampons were so easy to insert that I never realized what a waste the applicator is. Natracare is actually bio-degradable and compostable so, whether you’re ready to give up an applicator or not, you are making a smarter decision for the environment. What I really like about Natracare’s tampons is that they are very dense. Many store bought tampons expand by unfolding inside of you, this is what exposes the frayed pieces of cotton which break off and leave behind residue. Natracare tampons could not be pulled apart easily, there are grooves to help with absorbency but they were still totally intact when removed. The price point on these was significantly cheaper than a box of store bought tampons when I ordered them on Amazon.
Seventh Generation and ORGAN(Y)C are my next favorite brands. I used both with applicators in several absorbency levels. They were above store quality. Their applicators were not overly varnished or shiny, and made of cardboard. They seemed normal, very similar to store bought but when using them I felt much cleaner.
There are reusable pads which are taking the hippie world by storm, but again, I’m just not there yet. However, I did order a variety of Natracare and ORGAN(Y)C panty liners and pads. I was super impressed with both of these. Often panty liners and pads can cause me to sweat. Since these were cotton - I didn’t have that problem and they felt breathable. Overall, after using 100% organic cotton products for an entire cycle I noticed my cramps were dramatically less and I felt much cleaner by the end of my period. Usually on the last lighter days of my cycle my skin feels very irritated, but I don’t want to stop using liners until I’m positive that phantom period doesn’t come back to ruin my good underwear. These were not irritating at all and I highly suggest switching to organic pads if you are not a tampon user. Both of these brands have a ton safe options while store bought pads are still being made of 90% plastic materials.
Chain drugstores do not provide the options needed for women to get safe menstrual products. I highly encourage all women to stop giving in to convenience and equip yourself with quality products. This is a monthly exposure to harmful chemicals for majority of our lives. It’s so important to make this change starting this month. When these huge companies see a decrease in sales they will be forced to make safer products. Until then, boycott the use of toxic rayon because you actually are Worth It!
Sign this Change.org link which petitions Procter & Gamble to disclose a full ingredient list on all Always & Tampax products. https://www.change.
More from BUST
Jennifer Carmody (b.1988) is a writer and host of Carmody Central (available on iTunes), a lifestyle podcast discussing topics in culture, comedy, sexuality, and "the unknown." Guests include, Amy Schumer, Jim Norton and Psychotherapist John Tsilimparis. Follow her on Twitter.