It is challenging to be sustainable while on your period due to the necessary products' disposal nature. Although companies such as Thinx have come up with absorbent underwear and companies like Diva Cup offer people a more sustainable option, a large portion of female-bodied people prefer to stick to what they know, which is tampons. o.b. brand states that 90% of the raw materials used for the production of their tampons come from renewable sources. As explained in the review below, o.b. brand tampons could definitely improve in some aspects, however, if you are someone who menstruates and does not plan on using a reusable Diva Cup or another similar product, I think o.b. tampons are a good place to start the journey to making your period more sustainable.
The original o.b. tampons are made from a blend of two types of rayon and a polyester string. Rayon, which makes up the original o.b. tampon, is often promoted as a sustainable material because it is made from cellulose which is derived from wood pulp and other plant materials. Although it is often promoted as a natural fiber, it should not be considered as such since the cellulose is dissolved in chemicals like sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide and then later spun into threads using sulfuric acid. In many cases, rayon production is responsible for the deforestation of rainforests. Additionally, rayon production requires high water and energy usage, and the chemicals used in the process need to be disposed of properly. The string of the original o.b. tampon is made of polyester. This is a petroleum-based fiber, which means that the raw materials (fossil fuel in the form of petroleum) to produce the string of the tampon need to be mined for. Polyester is polyethylene terephthalate plastic molded and then woven into the desired fabric or string and is made from a chemical reaction involving coal, petroleum, air, and water. Polyester is also unable to be recycled. The energy required to produce polyester and the greenhouse gas emitted from extraction and processing makes the process have a high impact on the environment. One of the significant sustainability benefits of the o.b. brand is that they eliminate the tampon's unnecessary part: the applicator. This applicator adds additional plastic waste to landfills across the globe. Most women are used to using applicators to insert their tampons because most brands have this function. Although these tampons are free of applicators and the plastic envelope that most tampons come in, they need to be wrapped in something. This is why o.b. tampons are tightly wrapped in a small sheath of plastic. On the o.b. website, the company states that the cover is made from "polyester/polyethylene non-woven material." In my opinion, the company uses this scientific wording to distract the consumer from the fact that the tampons are still wrapped in individual pieces of plastic, which seems to me like an example of greenwashing. Polyethylene is the most commonly used plastic, with the annual global production being around 80 million tons. Although the piece of plastic could be seen as unnecessary, the tampons are likely wrapped in this material for sanitary purposes.
On the Edgewell Personal Care website, the company states that they strive to keep sustainability at the forefront of their day-to-day decisions and work to ensure that their suppliers hold themselves to the same environmental and social standards as the larger company. Some of the goals of the company for their supply chain include regionalizing their manufacturing and moving production facilities to be closer to the consumer base, in order to reduce their carbon footprint. Edgewell Personal Care is pursuing 100% renewable energy use and zero-waste-to-landfill by 2030. Additionally, the company is committed to waste reduction and recycling throughout its operations. For the social impact of the company, Edgewell Personal Care claims to be committed to ethical and responsible sourcing. They state that they only partner with suppliers that meet their social and environmental standards and ensure that workers at all levels of their supply chain are treated with fairness and respect.
o.b. is a brand of feminine products that originated in Europe when German gynecologist Dr. Judith Esser was on a quest for a "smarter tampon." o.b. brand tampons are different from many other brands on the market because they eliminate the plastic applicator and can significantly reduce the amount of waste produced during a person's cycle. This being said, they are not the most sustainable period product on the market. o.b. is owned by Edgewell Personal Care, whose website states that “sustainability will be an important business driver for Edgewell’s future growth”. Judging by the website it seems that Edgewell Personal Care is somewhat committed to responsibly sourcing the materials for their products. The website offers vague promises made by the company to work hard to meet future sustainability goals by 2030. They state that they are committed to offering recyclable packaging options, reducing waste and conserving energy use, and managing their carbon footprint, but don’t give very specific goals to reach this. Overall, it seems that Edgewell Personal Care is trying to become more sustainable, but it isn’t their primary focus.