Why you shouldn’t flush tampons down the toilet

tampons-down-toilet-blog

Do you throw your tampon down the toilet? Apparently half of UK women do. If you are one of these, read on!

There are just 3 things that belong down a toilet: pee, poo and toilet paper. That means no wipes, no tampons, no applicators, and certainly no pads!

For over a decade Natracare has been promoting “Bag It & Bin It” for disposal of feminine hygiene products, but it seems that all too many of us are set in the habit of flushing our products away.

A report by the Marine Conservation Society estimates that in Britain we flush 1.5bn to 2bn sanitary items each year. It’s very costly to unblock (increasing our water bills), and can have very ugly consequences. When drains get blocked up or overwhelmed, they spill over into gardens and on streets. Yuck!

It’s easy to see why there is this miseducation, when so many wipes manufacturers state on their labelling that products are “flushable”. Wessex Water is one of many organisations calling out for an end to the deceptive labelling, backed by campaigning organisations such as City to Sea, Surfers Against Sewage, Marine Conservation Society and Litter Free Coast and Sea.

So how should you dispose of used tampons?

It’s always good to have a bin by the loo, ideally with a biodegradable bag inside. (If your workplace doesn’t provide bins in the toilets, then make sure you ask!) Most common practice and simplest is to just wrap your tampon in toilet roll and pop it into the bin. Empty your bin regularly and there should be no issues.
Some Natracare customers like to compost their tampons. Take a read of our composting blog if you want to know more.

Can I flush tampons if I have a septic tank?

Yes, if you’re using 100% cotton tampons, these can biodegrade in septic tanks or composting toilets.
No, if you’re using conventional tampons, usually made with plastic overwraps that interfere with the tampons breaking up and biodegrading.

Isn’t biodegradable and flushable the same thing?

No! Think about a 100% cotton t-shirt. Being made from natural materials means that it would completely biodegradable and go back into the soil when put in the ground. However, the journey from our toilet to the sewage works is relatively quick, and along the way there are some tight bends and narrow areas to get around. That’s why only pee, poo and toilet paper are suitable.

What is Natracare doing to help inform customers?

For many years now we have used logos on our wipes packaging to clearly show customers that the wipes should not be thrown down the toilet. You will find instructions on how to dispose of Natracare tampons in the leaflet that’s in every pack. We are going one step further by adding a logo to our tampons packaging to remind customers not to put them in the toilet!

The most important thing is to try to get everyone talking about this practical side of period products, so help us out by sharing this article!

Recommended articles to find out more:
The Guardian – Half of UK women flush tampons away, by Kate Blincoe
Jezebel – Time to Accept Reality and Stop Flushing Tampons Down the Toilet, by Tracey Moore
Natracare – Can you compost feminine hygiene products?

 

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8 thoughts on “Why you shouldn’t flush tampons down the toilet

    • Natracare said:

      Hi, thanks for your question! Not all the pads have wings. The “Maxi” range are all non-wing pads, and the Ultra Super Plus pad has no wings. Take a look at our products pages for more info: http://www.natracare.com/products/pads/

  1. John said:

    When using a Portable Toilet please could you ensure you put sanitary products down the toilet bowl. The amount of toilets we clean at festivals that have tampons and towels stuffed in sinks and down the side of the toilet is amazing.

  2. Annette Patrone said:

    Hi there,
    I’ve been using Natracare Certified Organic Cotton tampons with the biodegradable applicator for quite a few years now for all the obvious reasons however was under the impression that being the simple natural product of organic cotton they’re made of and with that the tampons with the applicator are biodegradable and therefore would not harm toilet pipes etc because it would ultimately breakdown, dilute itself and eventually disintegrate and would not harm the environment or animals if it gets to open waters through the sewage system. However I finally got a chance to read the leaflet that requires a magnifying glass to read the one sentence under: To remove your tampon which lists 4 items of instructions and item #4 says Wrap the tampon and place in the waste bin. Please clarify that for me asap.

    Thank you kindly!!

    • Natracare said:

      Hi Annette, in theory it is fine to flush natracare products as they are compostable & biodegradable. Despite water processing companies doing their best, many sewage systems simply can’t cope with tampons. Using toilets as wet bins is likely to cause blockages in the waterways before any biodegradation takes place. Any tampon, whether biodegradable or not, should not be flushed – we recommend you stick to the three p’s only (pee, paper and poo). Hope this helps!

      • If you dispose of the tampon/pad in regular waste, won’t it go to the landfill? Even if it is biodegradable, will it properly decompose at the landfill (i.e. are the landfill conditions adequate for biodegrading the tampon or pad)?

        Thanks

        • Natracare said:

          Biodegradable pads and tampons still break down much quicker in landfill than plastic-based period products, especially in a bio-based bin bag and importantly help reduce the overall toxicity of landfill sites by not leaching toxic chemicals as they break down.

          Ideally, biodegradable products like natracare are composted after use but we understand this isn’t an option available to everyone. For more info about composting menstrual products see here: http://www.natracare.com/blog/can-you-compost-feminine-hygiene-products/

          • Would it be better to put them in food waste collection instead of normal garbage that goes to the landfill?

            Thank you!!!!