January 10, 2022

4 Dirty Truths About Tampons

I’m curious, what do you know about your period? 

And even more curious, what do you want to know about your period? 

For far too long - meaning, always - periods have fallen under the patriarchy’s long list of “un-ladylike topics of discussion.” If you’ve tuned into Mothers & Daughters Unfiltered before, you know me by now, and; therefore, you know that “un-ladylike” topics are my favorite things to talk about - so let’s open the conversation.

This past month of May, my mom and I were lucky enough to host, tampon and feminine care product entrepreneurs, Denielle Finkelstein & Thyme Sullivan on Mothers & Daughters Unfiltered to share with us why we should to pay more attention to the thumb-sized white cotton bullet half the population inserts inside themselves once a month. Graphic, I know, but I’m painting a picture here. Stick with me.

These two tampon trailblazers are challenging the outdated feminine care market through their line of sustainable, impact-driven tampons and pads, with fledgling company, The Organic Project, lovingly referred to as TOPs. Just take a look at their mission,

We are here to educate, enlighten, and be our authentic selves so that every girl and woman on the planet has access to healthy, 100% organic, eco-loving tampons and pads. And every step of the way, we’ll inspire stigma-shattering conversations about periods.

And to top it off (pun intended) these ladies are having fun while changing the feminine care industry for the better. Just look at Thyme & Denielle in their infamous tampon suits spreading awareness and opening the conversation about women’s menstrual health! 

Thyme & Denielle in their infamous tampon suits spreading awareness and opening the conversation about women’s menstrual health! 

Now that you’re warmed up, let’s get down to business. Here are 4 things that we learned and think you should know about periods from my two newest favorite superheroes, Denielle & Thyme of The Organic Project:

1. Sustainability It is a little known fact that our landfills are overflowing with "close to 20 billion sanitary napkins, tampons and applicators dumped every year.” [1] And because applicators are plastic, these babies are not going anywhere fast, which is why TOPs uses their fully biodegradable, "Planticator"! 

2. Transparency “As with cosmetics, feminine-care product manufacturers aren’t required to tell you what’s in their products. Unfortunately, tampons may contain traces of dioxin from bleach, pesticide residues from conventional, non-organic cotton, and mystery “fragrance” ingredients.” [2] You guessed, it TOPs uses 100% Certified Organic Cotton. None of the questionable stuff.

3. Access “‘Period poverty,’ or not being able to afford menstrual products" is a shockingly common concern for low-income women in high-income countries. In a recent study with 183 low-income women in St. Louis, Missouri, "64% of participants reported being unable to afford menstrual products in the previous year. One-third of women reported using other products as a result, including rags, toilet paper, and their children’s diapers.” [3]

4. Cost “The ‘tampon tax’ refers to the sales tax applied to feminine hygiene items such as pads, liners, tampons, and cups. Currently, 36 states (including California!) still apply sales tax to these necessary menstrual items, disproportionately affecting women from low-income households.” [4] 

These facts are staggering, but if you ask me, the biggest offender of them all is that most of us aren’t having this conversation at all. We know so little about the life-giving force between our legs. No matter how we choose to use it - to have babies, to experience pleasure, or simply to have a period - the vagina and all the anatomy around it is (in the most and least corny way possible) a miracle! So consider starting the conversation with your mom, daughter, sisters and friends. Perhaps start with "what tampons do you use and do you know what's in them?" I bet you'll be shocked at where that takes you.


[1] Shreya. “The Ecological Impact of Feminine Hygiene Products.” Technology and Operations Management, Harvard Business School, 4 Nov. 2016, https://digital.hbs.edu/platform-rctom/submission/the-ecological-impact-of-feminine-hygiene-products/ 

[2] “Cumulative Exposure And Feminine Care Products.” Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, A PROJECT OF BREAST CANCER PREVENTION PARTNERS, www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/healthandscience/cumulative-exposure-and-feminine-care-products/ 

[3] Cardoso, L.F., Scolese, A.M., Hamidaddin, A. et al. Period poverty and mental health implications among college-aged women in the United States. BMC Women's Health 21, 14 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12905-020-01149-5 

[4] Wakeman, Jessica. “The Real Cost of Pink Tax.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 6 Aug. 2020, www.healthline.com/health/the-real-cost-of-pink-tax#The-takeaway 

And if you're interested, buy The Organic Project's Tampons here!

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