Smartfit

How much plastic


is in your period?

periods plastic waste


The simple trick

Non-applicator tampons contain up to 97% less plastic than their plastic cousins. That's because they're still a tampon inside, but without the plastic casing (applicator) outside. They're also conveniently small, so can easily fit into a pocket or purse.

The insertion style is a little bit different, but the idea is the same. Here's a few simple steps to get you started.




FAQs

A tampon should be a simple thing: everything you need, nothing you don’t. Here’s a breakdown of what goes into a Lil-Lets non-applicator tampon…

Component Material Used % Plastic
Core Fibres: (The main body of the tampon which absorbs and holds menstrual fluid) Viscose (otherwise known as Rayon)

0%
Cover: (Covers the main body of the tampon and aids smooth insertion and removal) Non-woven containing Polyethylene and Polyester fibre 4%
Cord: (Removal string) Polyester and cotton 3%
Overwrap: (Individual tampon wrapper) Cellophane** <1%
Packaging: (Product packaging) Cardboard carton 0%

Lil-Lets non-applicator tampon materials summary

*plastic from fossil fuels, % weight based on Regular non-applicator tampons

** excludes Ultra absorbency tampons where the wrapper is polypropylene

If you’d like to know what other products in the Lil-Lets range are made from, click here.

Tampons can be made with cotton and/or viscose. Both cotton and viscose are absorbent materials, however viscose is man-made from natural materials (trees!) rather than taken straight from a plant, like cotton. The thing to note here though, is that tampons made with cotton and/or viscose are equally safe.

Lil-Lets use viscose because this material is processed to give a fibre with uniform quality, absorbency and purity. This helps to reduce the variability in tampon production to give you the high quality and performance you expect from Lil-Lets.

Whilst some people consider cotton to be more natural, it is worth remembering that, like the trees that make viscose, cotton fibres also go through a purification process to make them suitable for use in tampons.

There is some plastic within the following areas of a Lil-Lets non-applicator tampon:

  • The thin cover - this aids smooth insertion, removal and keeps the absorbent core fibres intact. The thin cover is made from polythene and polyester fibres because it needs to be partly melted to help it attach to the absorbent core of the tampon.
  • The tampon string - cotton is blended with polyester to make it stronger.
  • The tampon wrapper - this is mainly made from cellophane with only a tiny bit of plastic, which is needed as a barrier to prevent moisture getting through to the tampon inside.

Yes, they do.

Many pads sold in the UK contain some plastic. This can typically be found in the top sheet (to make the bit that goes next to your skin feel comfortable), the backing sheet (to provide a moisture proof barrier to prevent any leakage onto your underwear) and the individual pad wrapper (to ensure the pad remains clean and dry before use). This is similar for many liners too.

Plastic applicator tampons also contain plastic. The plastic applicator is usually made entirely from plastic (to ensure smooth insertion) and the tampon inside the applicator may contain small amounts of plastic within the tampon cover (to aid insertion, removal and to help the core fibres of the tampon remain intact) as well as in the tampon string.

Menstrual cups, whilst reusable, are generally made from silicone which is a man-made material that does not biodegrade.

You can rest assured that there are no harmful chemicals or ingredients added to Lil-Lets tampons. Tampons are made of materials which have proven safety records. (These materials are also used to make lots of other everyday products too!) The raw materials are carefully selected to ensure they are the highest quality and undergo extensive safety evaluations to guarantee they won’t cause any harm to you.

You might be interested to know that within the EU, tampons must comply with the General Product Safety Directive that holds manufacturers responsible for providing you with products that are safe to use. The safety of chemicals, including their presence in consumer products (even at trace levels) is governed by the REACH regulation too. Lil-Lets’ products have always adhered to the General Product Safety Directive and REACH regulations and so are perfectly safe for use.

The media is rife with inaccurate stories regarding what is and what is not in tampons. This often leads to panic and concern, but there really is no need for you to worry about this. Here are some facts about what is not included in tampons:

  • Pesticide, weed killers etc are not used on the trees from which viscose is made.
  • Chlorine is not used in the process to make a tampon; this applies to all mainstream tampons made since the early 1990’s (see our FAQ on bleach).
  • Dioxins are not added to tampons and current methods for processing and cleansing tampon fibres (including viscose and cotton) are not a source of dioxins.
  • There are no fragrances added to Lil-Lets tampons, however there are some tampon brands that sell tampons with fragrance in them.

You might also be surprised to know that some products may be marketed as “Zero % something” (e.g. 0% parabens) or “No something” (e.g. no glue), sometimes even mentioning chemicals and components that have never been used in those type of products or not used for many years. For example, chlorine has not been used in the process to make tampons since the early 1990s, so whether the tampons you use are organic or from mainstream brands, neither will have gone through a purification process using chlorine, even if one claims “no chlorine” on pack, and another does not. At Lil-Lets we ensure our product claims are always relevant to our products and the way they are made.

There is a common misconception in the UK concerning bleaching and dioxins in relation to tampons. This is purely a myth; tampons are neither bleached, nor are dioxins made in tampon manufacturing processes.

Tampons are not bleached, however the viscose or cotton used to make tampons has been through a purification process (which removes the lignin in wood pulp and the natural oily substances in cotton fibres) to help create a more effective and absorbent fibre. This process is commonly referred to as “bleaching” – hence the myth. Rest assured it’s nothing like the bleach you use to clean your toilet!

Dioxins are not added to tampons and current methods for processing and cleansing tampon fibres, including viscose and cotton, are not a source of dioxins. This concern around dioxins is often raised because before the 1990’s elemental chlorine gas was used by some manufacturers of the absorbent materials and in the process small quantities of dioxins were produced.! Nowadays this process is carried out using safe and environmentally friendly methods such as oxygen, peroxide (totally chlorine free) and chlorine dioxide bleaching (elemental chlorine free).

Tiny trace amounts of dioxins are everywhere in the environment, in rain water, and in food and because of this they have sometimes been detected in both cotton and viscose tampons, as well as many other feminine hygiene products. The exposure though is many tens or hundreds of thousands of times lower than from food. The important thing to remember is that at these tiny trace levels dioxins are not a concern to health.

The vagina stays clean and healthy all on its own. Usually, the vagina’s natural secretions will flush out anything that shouldn’t be in there and the good bacteria will restore the natural balance.

The vaginal lining is a mucous membrane, like other areas of the body such as the mouth, nose, intestines, and they and the mucus they secrete are there to protect and lubricate the tissues and to help prevent dirt and bacteria or viruses entering the body. Mucous membranes are generally more absorbent than skin which is why people worry about what they eat and what goes into their tampons. Lil-Lets have been making tampons since 1954, using materials that have been extensively tested over time to ensure they are perfectly safe for use, so there’s no need for you to be concerned.

Extensive scientific research has consistently demonstrated that there is no difference in TSS risk associated with the use of tampons made from cotton or from viscose. It is misleading to suggest that cotton tampons protect against TSS or to suggest a menstrual cup protects against TSS, as it could result in someone ignoring the symptoms of TSS. It is very important to read the information included in the leaflet within each pack of tampons to help minimise the risk and be aware of the symptoms.

TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) is a very rare illness that affects a very small percentage of the population including men and women of any age. You can get it from things like burns, insect bites, after you’ve had surgery and occasionally when you are using a tampon. It can start like flu to begin with and other symptoms to look out for include a sudden high fever over 39°C/102°F, sickness or diarrhoea, muscle aches, a sore throat, dizziness or fainting and a rash that looks a little bit like sunburn. If you have been using a tampon and appear to have any of these symptoms, then you should remove your tampon and go to the doctors or a hospital to be checked. Don’t forget to tell them you’ve been menstruating and using a tampon.

For even more information about TSS please go to www.tssis.com

Within the EU tampons must comply with the General Product Safety Directive and REACH regulations. The General Product Safety Directive holds manufacturers responsible for providing consumers with products that are safe to use. The REACH regulation governs the safety of chemicals, including their presence in consumer products even at trace levels. Lil-Lets tampons have always adhered to these directives and guidelines.

Additionally, in the UK, manufacturers follow the AHPMA Tampon code of practice, which standardises the consumer information such as absorbency ratings and labelling and advice for correct tampon usage. Lil-Lets is part of AHPMA and ensures that all consumer information, whether it be on packaging or in advertising, complies with this code of practice.

At least 90% of a Lil-Lets tampon is made up of viscose and viscose is made from trees grown in FSC certified sustainable forests (renewable resources).

The viscose in Lil-Lets tampons is biodegradable just like cotton, however as tampons should be disposed of with general household waste, they either go to incineration or landfill where they cannot biodegrade due to insufficient oxygen and water.

Products that are 100% biodegradable will only get the chance to biodegrade if they are commercially or home composted. Unfortunately, in the UK there are almost no collection or waste sorting facilities that would allow for these products to be collected and composted. Here at Lil-lets we continue to monitor the local authority plans for future waste disposal schemes and will ensure Lil-Lets products are compatible. Some of the companies that supply & collect the sanitary waste bins in public toilets have innovative processes to help the waste be used as fuel for heat and electricity generation – you can read more at http://www.phslifecycle.co.uk/

Don’t forget that Lil-Lets tampon boxes are made from 80% recycled board and can be recycled along with the TSS information leaflet inside, with the rest of your paper and cardboard recycling.

The correct way to dispose of tampons is with general household waste, which will either be incinerated or go to landfill (depending on where you live). Don’t flush your tampon! (Remember the 3P’s, only pee, poop and paper should go down the loo). Even if they don’t block the sewers they can’t pass through the sewage treatment works and are caught and removed by filters. This debris is removed from the filters into a waste skip and then eventually gets sent to landfill or for incineration. If sewers do get blocked that is when the risk of overflow occurs, and tampons, wipes or anything else you’ve put down the toilet, could enter rivers and eventually the sea.