Seeing Red: Sanitary Protection and the Environment

Did you know…

  • In the UK, the use of tampons, pads and applicators generates more than 200,000 tonnes of waste per year
  • An average woman throws away an astonishing 125 to 150kg of tampons, pads and applicators in her lifetime
  • The problem is getting worse, with increased marketing and use of disposable pantyliners and feminine hygiene wipes

Half the world’s population has periods, but how often do we challenge the assumptions behind the products marketed to us? Why are we still manufacturing disposable sanitary products containing plastics that will take hundreds of years to break down? What links women cotton pickers in developing countries to our choice of product in the shops?

Women’s Environmental Network has campaigned for over 20 years to draw attention to the health and environmental impacts of our consumer choices. This March we’re launching an updated fact-sheet on sanitary protection and the environment.  “Seeing Red” is a four-page briefing exploring the links between sanitary products and health, waste, advertising, and chemicals.

WEN  believes that women deserve access to the best and safest options for our bodies and the environment. Our updated briefing hopes to reignite the conversation and get women thinking about their full range of choices, including the sustainable alternatives, such as washable pads and menstrual cups.

What you can do

  • Download Seeing Red (pdf)
  • Download Seeing Red (pdf – printable version)
  • Download Seeing Red references (pdf)
  • Get in touch to order hard copies of the briefing for your organisation, event, project or school, or consider printing your own (this would help us!)
  • Hold an event to raise awareness. For example, you could organise a film screening and discussion, a ‘red foods’ themed dinner party, or a workshop to share stories and perceptions of menstruation. If you’re a crafty type, then consider holding a washable pad sewing soiree, using our online template (pdf)
  • Contact manufacturers of sanitary products to demand clearer information on their contents and sourcing
  • Donate to WEN, or support us by joining us! WEN relies on the support of women who care about the issues we do. Our work on sanitary protection is currently unfunded. Your support will allow us to continue our research and outreach, respond to enquiries, and requests for talks and workshops.

Get SCCS updates