Being sustainable while on your period can be a tricky task. Although there are now products like the cup (e.g. the Diva cup) or even absorbent underwear (e.g. Snuggs), that don’t need to be disposed of monthly, one of the most famous and preferred options remains the tampon. From the environmental impact to the health risks tampons pose, finding the right brand can be really difficult. Luckily, more and more organic companies become available, which are more eco-friendly and diminish health risks. One such company comes from Australia and is called “TOM Organic,” which aims to make period-care more environmentally and socially sustainable without sacrificing women’s comfort and wellbeing. Another valuable aspect that I admire about this brand is that it tries to make the conversation around feminine hygiene products and periods in general feel more natural and open in order to erase the stigma around this topic. Although it can be slightly more expensive than other brands like o.b. or Tampax as one pack of 16 tampons costs $8.00, “TOM Organic” appears to be a heartening initiative by being transparent about their practices, ingredients, and materials they use.
The ingredients included in the products that you insert into your body are of utmost importance as the chemicals are rapidly absorbed. While many more conventional brands of feminine hygiene products contain dangerous chemicals such as rayon, polypropylene, or glyphosate which could not only increase the risk of having a Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) due to bacterial infections, but are also harmful for the environment. Organic products, however, are made with organic cotton and contain no dangerous chemicals. “Tom Organic” makes the information on the ingredients used very easily accessible, which is very encouraging. According to them, the organic cotton is sourced only from organic farms certified by Australian Certified Organic (ACO), meaning that the cotton grown is free from any synthetic pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides which could irritate or be absorbed by the person using the product. This also makes the growing process more sustainable since chemicals found in other brands of hygiene products, like rayon, which can lead to deforestation, polypropylene, a material that decomposes slowly and often ends up in landfills, and glyphosate, a controversial weedkiller, are toxic for the environment. Another significant environmental benefit of the “Tom Organic” tampons, is that they don’t come with a plastic applicator, rather with a cardboard one, which are more sustainable, since it is recyclable, renewable, reusable, and biodegradable. While the tampons themselves are made only from certified organic cotton, tamper proof plastic is used for the packaging, arguing that this is necessary to ensure the integrity of the product. Although they mention wanting to improve and find better solutions, their statement is quite vague and could benefit from more concrete ideas on how to eliminate plastic completely in the future.
The company claims to comply with the Australian Certified Organic Standard and the National Organic and Biodynamic Standard, which ensures that the products are made free of genetically modified substances, free-range, are sourced sustainably and socially responsibly and contain no pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, or herbicides. Organic farming has many environmental benefits, so it’s heartening to see more and more companies making the shift towards more sustainable manufacturing practices. A major benefit is that this type of farming helps conserve water and requires less carbon dioxide (CO2), while also encouraging biodiversity. Other advantages of organic farming include building a healthier soil as well as reducing exposure to various pesticides and dangerous chemicals. Although the products are manufactured in Europe, the company only ships within Australia, so in order to reduce their carbon footprint it would be useful if they managed to regionalize their manufacturing, however, they offer no information on this particular aspect. According to the company’s website, annual audits are conducted each year to assure that the products meet quality standards and that workers are treated fairly.
“TOM Organic” is an Australian business that is owned and run by a group of women that focuses on improving the wellbeing of other women. Compared to other brands, this one is way more transparent and informative about the life cycle of their products, from sourcing organic cotton, to the way the business is run. This company, like any other, has its limits, such as the plastic included in the packaging, however, it appears to overall genuinely try to maintain quality while being as socially and environmentally responsible as possible.