Plastic Free Periods | The Q&A with Pass The Mic
We are super excited to announce that we have teamed up with the amazing girls from Pass The Mic to help educate more young women and highlight the issues surrounding periods and plastic waste.
Check out the podcast here!
I saw kids playing in piles of plastic
1. What motivated you to want to start Ethically So?
Ethically So. was an idea I’ve had in the back of my head for maybe four or so years. It’s wasn’t until I left the UK three years ago now, that I actually got the push I needed to go ahead with the idea.
I travelled South East Asia for six months, and Australia for a year before ending up in New Zealand. The plastic waste I saw whilst travelling Asia shocked me. I saw kids playing in piles of plastic, families burning it to clear waste and cook their food, animals eating it and our oceans covered in it. I saw bleached coral in the Great Barrier Reef due to global warming and deforestation all over New Zealand due to the high demand of land for the livestock industry, and demand for native timbres to be shipped worldwide.
I saw bleached coral in the Great Barrier Reef due to global warming
I knew things had to change, and that I couldn’t just sit by and not do anything. I had got to a point in my life where I was trying my hardest but needed to help others and educate them also. I knew now was the time. If I didn’t do it now when would I!?! So I just went for it, and we have currently been live for 3 months which is crazy. The business is going well so far, and we have received really great feedback. Our aim is to educate others, support local New Zealand businesses and make living a low waste lifestyle easily accessible. Which is why collaborating with you (Pass The Mic) was so awesome!
2. How much plastic is used over the average woman’s period?
Over 45 billion tampons or sanitary pads are used annually. 1 menstruating human alone can use 260 or more tampons per year! This equates to the average woman using around 11,000 - 17,000 single-use plastic products like tampons or pads per life time which is A LOT of waste. In fact, it’s about 32,000 tonnes of heavy plastic waste per year.
1.5 billion period items are flushed into our waste systems per year. In one day, ocean conservation volunteers collected 27.983 used tampons and applicators on our world’s beaches
Over 45 billion tampons or sanitary pads are used annually
The average kiwi woman will spend $16,000 (NZ Herald) on her period in her lifetime and that’s not just on chocolate we promise. This is spent on the likes of: sugar cravings, painkillers, sanitary products, contraception, and sick days. Plastic pollution isn’t the only problem when it comes to that time of the month.
There are plenty of women out there who simply can not afford to keep up with essentials needed on a monthly basis. There are products that you can invest in (such as menstrual cups or reusable pads) that make a huge difference in the long run when it comes to waste and money.
3. What advice would you give to a young girl who has just begun her menstrual journey?
It can definitely be super scary at the beginning. Especially when there are so many options out there at the moment, it can be quite daunting. The easiest thing to do is just follow your mum/sister/grans advice. However we need to start thinking about our priorities. It is unnecessary for us to produce as much waste as we currently do per cycle. Especially when there are options out there that are so much safer, cheaper, and easier to use. If you’re a mum, sister, gran make an effort to educate yourself on the different products out there so you can pass it on and have a positive impact.
I would personally suggest using period underwear to start with. Each pair can hold up to two tampons worth and they really are leak proof. They’re super comfy (just like wearing bikini bottoms) and they’re also really discrete.
If you really believe tampons are the only option for you then be sure to shop organic, and it could be worth looking into getting a reusable tampon applicator, to help cut down on plastic waste.
4. What do you think is the most useful piece of advice when it comes to the transition between tampons/pads and environmentally friendly period products?
Give it ago. If you don’t you’ll never know, and you could be missing out on the best thing ever. Once I found the hello cup I felt I’d been fully missing out for the past 10 years, and the same happened again when I found period pants.
If you’re worried, then take the day off at home to play around with different methods to find which one suits you best. As a woman this is something we have to deal with on a monthly basis for quite a few years. So the sooner you find a method that works well for you the better. Start young, I wish I had tried different methods before the age of 22.
5. What sustainable period alternative do you think is the easiest to transition to?
I first bought a hello cup when I started travelling three years ago. I read a blog post saying how it would cut down on space whilst travelling + waste and money. I also wasn’t sure if menstrual products would be easily accessible in some of the places we were going in Asia.
I think it was potentially one of the best buys I had for travelling. They are so easy to use + they last for 12 hours at a time, so you don’t need to be worried about getting stuck out on a day trip in a tricky situation. It took me a couple of goes to get used to but I would honestly never look back.
There have been times where I have recently struggled with period pains and/or haven’t wanted to use a menstrual cup/been feeling lazy and so I recently bought a paid of period pants and I absolutely love them. I can not recommend them enough for people who don’t like hello cups or tampons. If you currently use tampons, then I think a menstrual cup would be the easiest transition. If not, then reusable period pads are great and an easy change to make
6. Do you think different age groups work better with different products?
No, I think it comes down to “each to their own”. Maybe your flow isn’t strong enough for a hello cup, or make it’s too strong for reusable pads. Maybe you get really bad cramps, this could be down to tampons (more often than not it is). Unless you experiment, you’ll never know which method works for you. Even then, this may change. Some times I use period pants, some times I use the hello cup I change it around depending on my mood!
7. What are your favourite products available on Ethically So. both period focused and other?
My favourite products:
The stainless steal reusable razors: These are literally incredible, such an awesome way to cut down on plastic waste and have a beautiful product that will last you a lifetime.
Reusable Make-up pads:These have been so popular, and rightly so. You don’t even need make up remover which is amazing as it helps to cut down on chemicals you are exposing your skin to. If you do want to use a product on your face I would recommend the face oil by Be + Humble, made in New Zealand and with 100% natural/non-toxic ingredients.
The Hello Cup:Obviously I couldn’t not mention this one! They have literally changed my life, taken away cramps, saved me money and completely changed the way I feel about that time of the month. It’s not longer something that I dread.
+ Bonus Favourite: Natural Deodorant.
We have two kinds in stock, one by B.Bold and one by Raw Nature. Both of which are incredible and help to cut down on waste. Supermarket deodorants are full of chemicals which are harmful to our bodies. Research has been done and shown that breast cancer is largely found in the upper quarter of the breast closest to the armpit. Avoid toxins and find a natural deodorant that works for you, especially if breastfeeding.
8. What do you believe is the first (or most important) step in becoming eco-friendlier in regard to your period?
Think about what the most important aspect is for you. Is it comfort, helping to cut down on waste, avoiding single use plastic, staying away from potentially putting yourself at risk of TSS (toxic shock syndrome, caused by tampons). If you’re using both tampons and pads or a hello cup + pads then try getting reusable pads so you’re not doubling up on single-use waste. Focus on what matters to you!
9. When it comes to menstrual cups, which fold do you think is the easiest for a beginner?
Well you learn something new each day! I actually had no idea there were different folding methods (I just googled it). I have always just folded mine in half. Apparently this is called the C-Fold and then give it wiggle so it opens fully. If you find you are leaking, then double check it has unfolded. If it hasn’t then you may need a different size. Head over to our website to check out the different sizes and find out which one is right for you.
Check out our Bathroom & Beauty category on for more everyday essential low waste products.
Don’t forget to use the code PASSTHEMIC for 10% off your order over $30
Thanks for reading!
Love Annie // FOUNDER
Ethically Sourced Limited