Recent tampon recall sparks organic tampon exploration

Published On January 25, 2019 | By Stefanie Ucci | Life

Traditional tampons use chemically treated materials and non biodegradable plastic. (Stefanie Ucci)

Stefanie Ucci

Tampon users have debated for more than 30 years about whether making the switch to organic versions would be safer for both their bodies and the environment.

The recent recall of Kotex tampons — because they unraveled while being removed — rekindled the debate about the risks and concerns surrounding traditional name brand feminine products.

The company withdrew the U by Kotex Sleek because it could cause bleeding, irritation, infections, and discomfort among other physical symptoms.

This issue also raised concerns about Toxic Shock Syndrome, a life-threatening condition that causes similar symptoms to the flu, according to Health Canada’s website. They said symptoms include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and disorientation.

Health Canada recognizes tampons can cause Toxic Shock Syndrome, depending on the hygienic practices of the user and the length of time the tampon is left in the body.

According to Health Canada, traditional tampons including Kotex are made from a blend of cotton and rayon. They said rayon comes from cellulose which is a synthetic product made from wood pulp.

Health Canada states it monitors and regulates tampons before they are distributed to consumers. They ensure all labels contain extensive information about the risks of Toxic Shock Syndrome during tampon use.

For women who are reluctant to use synthetically made tampons, organic tampons are available from a variety of companies who pride themselves on their natural products.

Organyc is a Slovenian brand dedicated to providing natural materials in their tampons and pads for women with sensitive skin issues.

Rebecca Storrick, marketing manager for Organyc, said the company uses 100 per cent organic cotton which is a great solution for allergic reactions and skin irritation.

“Our feminine products are breathable, biodegradable, perfume-free, and plastic-free,” Storrick said. “Organic cotton tampons, pads, and liners do not contain the chemicals that can be found in a lot of traditional man-made brands.”

Storrick also cited a 2018 study by Corman S.p.A, the Italian manufacturer of Organyc products. The study followed 200 women with vaginal skin sensitivities who reported major benefits by switching to 100 per cent organic cotton products.

Organyc places its emphasis on providing natural products for women with sensitivities, as well as creating environmentally friendly pads and tampons.

Storrick said the tampon applicators don’t contain BPA which is a common ingredient in plastic. She said Organyc’s tampons are “wrapped in Mater-Bi, a biodegradable and compostable packaging material.”

Other ingredients Organyc tampons are free from include chlorine, perfume, dyes, latex, wood pulp, and absorbent chemicals, Strorrick said.

This is a significant difference from traditional tampons that include wood pulp in the rayon material that’s mixed with cotton.

Another option for organic tampons is Natracare, an award-winning brand for organic feminine products that offers a wide range of organic and environmentally friendly solutions.

Natracare spokesperson Madeleine Graham said the company has been making tampons since the late ’80s and have built a community of loyal customers.

She said traditional tampons come with excess plastic both in the applicator and the outside wrapping. Natracare’s wrapping is biodegradable and doesn’t use any unnecessary plastic which helps reduce plastic pollution worldwide, Graham said.

“Natracare tampons are made with only one ingredient, 100 per cent certified organic cotton,” Graham said.

She said this means there are no added ingredients to the tampons and the cotton used is grown without pesticides or synthetic additives.

Graham also provided a link to The Good Shopping Guide which rates the ethical comparisons of feminine sanitary products.

Natracare came first place with a high score of 100 points, among two other lesser known brands. Organyc received a mid score of 77 points and Kotex had a low score of 55 points among other well known name brands.

“We are the world leading brand of organic tampons,” Graham said.

For the environmentally and body-conscious tampon user, organic tampons are a realistic option for a positive lifestyle change.

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