Why We Should Keep Tampa Bay Sanitary

April 28, 2021

To Whom it May Concern,

We are a group of girls from the Academy sharing our concern about how women are unknowingly harming the planet simply by buying mass-produced products that society encourages us to use every day. We wrote this letter in the hope that we can shed light on this important issue and to see the Tampa Bay community become a leader in environmental and women’s health standards. 

 

Kyla Monts

Eva Schillinger

Mia Bernard

Andrea Rogas

Kinsley Link 

Emma Grace Coley

Kathryn McDowell

Lexline Johnson

 

200,000 tons of plastic waste are produced annually from one source: sanitary pads. An out-of-the-box solution to reduce this waste is to make ecologically sustainable hygiene products more accessible to all. Doing so shows respect for the human condition as well as respect for our  environment. In the Laudato Si, Pope Francis states, “Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society.” By making sustainable and safe hygiene products more accessible to women is not only an expression of sincere love, but a way we can help our environment and improve the quality of life within our society.

Most people don’t know that feminine hygiene products can contain up to 90% plastic. In fact, one pack of feminine pads is made with the same amount of plastic as four grocery shopping bags. A few of these products would be enough to cause substantial harm to marine life and wild animals. Imagine if 2.5 billion of these products flushed down the toilet every day. This can lead to 1,000 tons of waste each year from these products alone. Not to mention, they do not disintegrate overnight. It can take from 500 to 800 years to be exact.

According to a 2019 study by Zero Waste Scotland, tampons and sanitary pads contribute about 95% more to climate change than reusable menstrual cups. People can reduce waste by turning to reusable hygiene products. Reusable products are not only better for the environment, but they can also save over $100 each year. Transitioning to sustainable products not only decreases environmental hazards but protects the health of women as well. There are many chemicals in hygiene products that can be harmful to our environment and the bodies of those who use them. Some examples of these physical dangers are Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), irritation from dioxin (bleach), artificial perfumes, and pesticides.

Hygienic production companies switching to manufacturing more environmentally conscious products would greatly reduce the amount of waste created yearly. One of the most effective ways to start the switch to more environmentally sensible sanitary products is by spreading awareness through word of mouth or advertisement.  This means commercializing products that are normally seen as useful for a people of certain economic demographics and making them more accessible. Increasing awareness within the Tampa Bay community as a whole makes it easier to donate and allows for the problem to be solved. 

Moreover, in order to educate those around us and the community, we must properly educate ourselves. We must become aware of how the current feminine products put a strain on our environment. Using these environmentally friendly products while promoting the use of them not only educates ourselves on the importance of these products to be more eco-friendly, but benefits our personal health. Following in the light of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ we need to come together as a community and commit to fixing this because no single person can fix a problem this large.

As people of a community, it is our responsibility to work together to care for our environment and the people within it since life is all a precious gift. Additionally, it is important to note that organizations such as The Healing Hands Project, Helping Women Period, The Homeless Period Project, and many more projects like these are accepting donations and listing volunteer opportunities to deliver menstrual supplies to those in need. It is important that the people of the Tampa Bay community know that there are opportunities to start this in the area. 

Ultimately, feminine hygiene products are harmful to the environment and to women who aren’t fortunate enough to have access to safer types of products. Alternatives should be more accessible to all women, as they are much safer to their overall health and to the health of the planet. In order for women to have access to safer products, organizations and donations in the Tampa Bay area should be encouraged to help all women, especially those in difficult economic circumstances. Tampa Bay can do much more to modernize the way it approaches both the health of the women in the city and the planet, and it can begin now.

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