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Can You Flush A Tampon? & How to Dispose of Tampons Correctly

We’re here to explain exactly how to throw away tampons and improve your ecological footprint.

There are plenty of sustainable ways to dispose of tampons, but flushing them down the toilet is a big no-no. Why? Because tampons, pantyliners and pads can block plumbing pipes and eventually lead to a backflow of sewage (super gross!). And more importantly, the effects on the environment cannot be ignored. As it stands, tampons are the most commonly flushed ‘unflushable’ products.

In a survey by phs, *42% of participants had flushed them in the last 2 years. So, next time you’re wondering; “Can you flush a tampon down a toilet?”, the answer is “absolutely not” – no matter how tempting and convenient it might seem.

How to dispose of tampons

Disposing of tampons is simple and easy. All you have to do is wrap the used tampon in some toilet paper and throw it in the bin — that’s it! And if you happen to use pads or pantyliners, the same logic applies. Wrap the used products in toilet paper or product packaging before throwing them away. Most public restrooms have a small bin located right next to the toilet for easy access. It’s also important to wrap the products to prevent anyone else from coming into contact with bodily fluids, especially when cleaning out the bin. We want to make their job as easy as possible.

How to dispose of tampons while camping or outdoors

Don’t shy away from enjoying the great outdoors while on your period. If you remember to bring along some small sealable bags (ideally the eco-friendly ones), you’ll be good to go. Simply put the used tampons in the bag and throw them away when you have access to a bin again. Steer clear from paper bags to avoid period blood leaks. It’s also a great idea to carry some wipes or tissue with you to clean up when changing tampons outdoors. Make sure the wipes/tissue are also sealed in the disposal bag.

Browse our range of absorbent and comfortable tampons for reliable leak protection

Are tampons biodegradable?

There are biodegradable tampons on the market. Nevertheless, whether a tampon is made from 100% biodegradable materials or not, it should never be flushed. As mentioned, tampons can cause blockages in pipes and sewers. Despite containing materials that are biodegradable, they still don’t break down fast enough in water! On top of all that, blockages in the sewer systems can also lead to flooding, with sewage getting into rivers and seas.
Many tampons contain small amounts of plastic in the string and in the smooth cover on the surface of the tampon. This plastic could take hundreds of years to break down, contributing to plastic in the ocean. As you can see from all of this, we do advise that only the 3 “P”’s (Pee, Poop and Paper) are flushed down the toilet.
As well as period products, items like cotton wool, cotton buds, condoms, baby wipes, face wipes, paper towels and dental floss should also never be flushed. Always dispose of these items in your general household waste bin.

Why do we habitually flush tampons down the toilet?

Plenty of people know that you shouldn’t be flushing period products, however, there are several socio-psychological factors that prompt them to make this decision anyway.*In many cases, tampon flushing is a habit that becomes second nature, especially because people think their family and friends do the same. They’ll remove the tampon and go into autopilot while on the toilet. As a result, they flush every tampon they use — yikes!

Another motivator for tampon flushing is hygiene and an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude towards disposal. It’s been instilled in hundreds and thousands of people that it’s “cleaner” to flush the tampon because it’s no longer in your immediate space. This is reinforced by the false belief that periods are shameful.
In a survey conducted by Mumsnet in 2016, *41% of women didn’t know that tampons should not be flushed. This makes it clear that public education is essential to addressing the issue of period product waste. We all need to play an active role in ending period stigma and highlighting how to use tampons in eco-friendly ways.

Environmental impact of menstrual products

More than **half (55%) of sewer flooding is caused by blockages in sewers and drains, leading to flooding and pollution. And an estimated ***52.4-million kilograms of menstrual product waste that ends up in sewers and landfills on a yearly basis. However, if we use period products in an environmentally responsible manner, this narrative could change.

So, are tampons flushable?

Long story short, tampons are not flushable and we always recommend being a binner, not a flusher! Continuous improvement is key to sustainability and it’s an ongoing journey that we are committed to. As a result, Lil-Lets is taking the ‘small but real steps’ approach, ensuring our actions add up to big changes in the future. We are always looking at ways to innovate, reducing plastic and waste as much as possible. We will continue our journey of educating and creating conversations around these important topics and we encourage you to do the same with friends and family. After all, creating safe spaces to talk about menstruation can help to normalise periods and end the stigma.

* https://www.phs.co.uk/media/3307/phs-water-pollution-whitepaper.pdf [Accessed: 9 December 2022]
**https://www.water.org.uk/news-item/only-flush-poo-pee-and-paper [Accessed: 9 December 2022]
***https://thoughtleader.co.za/crimson-carbon-footprint/ [Accessed: 11 April 2022]

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