Why You Shouldn’t Flush Tampons Down the Toilet

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 period 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 compost their menstrual products – yes, including tampons!

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 menstrual products?

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