I’ve been noticing more and more that one of my go-to products — one that which, frankly, I have given very minimal thought — is deserving a closer look. Hide your eyes if you’re squeamish, because I’m about to broach a subject that makes most people want to end a conversation mid-sentence.
In a word: tampons. Oh yes, I went there.
So here’s the thing: A while back I read about how some women had discovered their tampons were kind of moldy. (Thank you, Jezebel, for giving me more fodder for my already-vivid nightmares.) Then I started thinking about all that blindingly white cotton, and how it was probably bleached with some pretty harsh chemicals, and then — LALALA — I promptly plugged my fingers in my ears and tried to drown out the sounds of my own thoughts.
Because sometimes it all just feels like way too much, you know? I worry enough about BPA and nanoparticles and microbeads and pthalates and parabens and now I also have to worry about the chemicals that go into manufacturing tampons, too?
Well, the answer is obviously yes. Don’t believe me? Pop over and read “The Truth About Tampons” over at Time and then come back here so we can talk. No, really, I’ll wait.
Are we good now? Great. Let me introduce you to Jennifer Eden, co-founder of Tampon Tribe. It’s a natural tampon subscription service that’s officially launching with an IndieGogo campaign on September 12. The product? 100% organic, nontoxic tampons with compostable applicators. For real.
What made you want to launch Tampon Tribe?
Wow, a combination of things really. To begin with: creating access to organic feminine hygiene products for all women. I started adding more organic products to my life and couldn’t believe how difficult it was to find 100% organic cotton tampons, and the few that were available were expensive with plastic applicators and wraps. This didn’t make sense to me. I also constantly, I mean constantly, run out of tampons each month, so I decided to combine my needs, wants, and hopes for the environment and the planet, with the convenience of a home-delivered organic cotton tampon subscription service that is completely plastic-free and compostable. I also wanted to create jobs for people who need a second or third chance in life, so we will be employing men and women through retraining programs so that they can change their lives and their kids’ lives for the better too.
How does Tampon Tribe work?
Tampon Tribe is more than great subscription tampons. It’s a movement: women (and men!) coming together to make a statement about organic feminine hygiene that is toxic-free and affordable. We are launching with an Indiegogo campaign so everyone can build the Tribe together and be part of it from the onset. We’ll also be holding Tampon Tribe events, like Run4Women on September 24. (Editor’s note: Check the Tampon Tribe website for details!)
Why should women be concerned about the materials and manufacturing practices used to make tampons?
There are a lot of unknown factors in tampons today. Tampons are classified as pharmaceuticals, so companies don’t need to declare what has been used to make them — harsh chemicals and bleaches are often used that harm the earth in manufacturing, and the dioxins found in chlorine bleach have been linked to cancer in women. A mix of materials, such as cotton, rayon, viscose, and synthetics can be used as absorbents and a range of dyes and perfumes are commonly added. Women really have no idea what they are literally putting into their bodies. And then there are the plastics: plastic applicators, wraps, and packaging, all that damage our Earth and enter landfills and water systems.
What makes Tampon Tribe tampons different?
Tampon Tribe has pure 100% certified organic cotton tampons that are hypoallergenic and won’t leave fibres sticking inside a women’s body. They are perfume- and superabsorbent-free and no toxins, chlorine, or dioxins are used at all. The removal cord is sewn, not glued to the core. No plastics are used at all. We have a comfortable cardboard applicator, with a recycled paper wrapper and recycled cardboard packaging. Our products are ICEA (Environmental and Ethical Certification Institute) and GOTS (Global Organic Standard) certified. So we start from the growing methods of the cotton, to the manufacturing, personal use, and disposal, in ensuring that we are protecting the Earth, and women’s bodies, at all times.
Why are these differences so important?
We are all so conscious about what we eat, wear, and put on our skin — feminine hygiene is no exception. In fact, going organic should be the most important consideration when using tampons. Organic cotton is grown without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers, helping the earth with several environmental benefits, and then ensuring that no toxins transfer into our bodies. In terms of materials, viscose and rayon can be dangerous as they are highly-absorbent and can stick to the inside of our bodies. If they remain behind, the dioxins and synthetics in them can create a favorable environment for the growth of bacteria that causes Toxic Shock Syndrome. Tampon Tribe uses a thin veil over the absorbent core to ensure this can’t happen, plus we use pure, organic cotton. The carcinogenic qualities of the toxic dioxin bleach often used to manufacture tampons can also be dangerous, and we minimize waste and environmental impact by being completely compostable and plastic-free.
Tell us about your philanthropic efforts!
We have partnered with the amazing Girls Inc. as our first charity. They inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold, and we think they’re great. We don’t want to simply give tampons away; we will be looking for educational, transformative charities to help instigate change, enabling girls to be the best they can be.