Feminine Products + Pollution.
The tale of period care is not far off from that of other common plastic pollutants. Yet again, it is the story of convenience and a changing culture. As the number of women entering the workforce rose in the 20th century, so did the popularity of tampons. Over a relatively short period of time, tampons became the overwhelmingly popular opinion. But the negative connotations around bleeding have existed for centuries, and still are prevalent in our society today.
Most American women will menstruate for around 40 years and with that, comes over 11,000 tampons used during their lifetime. Not to mention the applicators, wrappers, and packaging, as well.
"All that menstrual fluid has to go somewhere. In the U.S., it usually ends up in a tampon or on a pad, and after their brief moment of utility, those products usually end up in the trash." - Alenjandra Borunda, National Geographic - How Tampons and Pads Became So Unsustainable.
Also like many other common plastic pollutant stories, there is the large corporation behind the product profiting at the cost of the planet. Procter & Gamble is one of the top 10 polluters, as identified by the Break Free From Plastic global brand audit. According to The Guardian, P&G also ranks as the top single-use feminine product producer in the world, selling over 4.5 billion boxes of Tampax (a brand under P&G) worldwide back in 2019.
But the Saalt story tells another tale--one of limited access to tampons and pads in a small town in Venezuela.
Much like SCH, Saalt started with a search to find a solution. CEO and Co-founder, Cherie, had a call with her Auntie in Venezuela who informed her that pads and tampons had not been available in stores for years. Being a mother of 5 daughters, Cherie instantly thought of what she would do if they were in that situation. But another issue came to mind: our alarming dependency on disposable feminine products. Cherie set out on a mission to find a solution, and so came the launch of Saalt -- a B-Corp helping women break that dependency through reusable menstrual cups. Made in the U.S. with 100% medical grade silicone.
"My family had gone months without period care... No one should have to experience that." - Cherie Hoeger, Co-founder of Saalt.
At SCH, we are all about education and empowering others to find a way forward into a plastic free future. As a B-Corp, Saalt is working to both provide a product that helps tackle source reduction and sponsor cleanup efforts right here in Hawaiʻi. With this partnership, we are hoping to make a positive impact on the world by empowering those who menstruate to take a small step in turning off the tap on plastic pollution. We are always stoked to work with B-Corps that have the planetʻs best interest etched into their bottom line. Through the launch of their Seafoam Green Cup, Saalt was able to fund the removal of thousands of pounds of plastic pollution off Hawaiʻi coastlines through the SCH Beach Cleanup Program. If you missed this product drop you can find more buying options here.
Period cups are worn like a tampon that collects, rather than absorbs, your period. With proper care, Saalt cups can last up to 10 years and can be worn for up to 12 hours before needing to be emptied. Period cups not only lower the cost of period care, but also drastically reduce the amount of waste that is left behind. This may sound great, but itʻs not an easy swap for a lot of women.
When it comes to changing anything about what happens to, or goes into, our bodies, it can be really scary. It is important to use whatever products you are most comfortable with and know that there are other options out there, if you ever feel the urge to make the swap. Keep opening these conversations with your ʻohana, and join Saalt in breaking the societal taboos around periods.
Again, we know that period cups might not be for everyone, and that is ok. There are plenty of small shifts that can be made to reduce plastic consumption at the source, but you donʻt need to take on all of them. If you are interested to learn more about menstrual cups and how to find the right fit, visit Saaltʻs How-To guide on their website.