How one woman stemmed the tide of period pollution
This Plastic Free July, we’re delighted to share our interview with Ella Daish, who has been campaigning to eliminate all plastic from menstrual products since 2018.
So far, an incredible 210,000 people have signed Ella’s petition calling for manufacturers and supermarkets to remove plastic from the period products they produce. The petition covers tampons, applicators, pads, wrapper and packaging, all of which have a detrimental impact on our environment.
Gettting started on period plastic campaigning
Ella reflects on what first inspired her to start campaigning, “When I became aware of how much plastic was in the products I had been using, I was horrified. I did some research and was shocked to learn that period products contain up to 90% plastic and take over 500 years to break down! I spoke to my colleagues, friends and family, hoping that they were aware of this, but they reacted in the same way.”
“I knew if small brands made them without plastic then there was no excuse for big brands not to do the same. It frustrated me and I kept thinking ‘what can I as a postal worker really do about this?’, but I knew I had to do something because if I didn’t, then who would. I saw the success of online campaigns, which compelled me to take a stand against period plastic by starting my own.”
Hard work pays off
Not only has Ella’s petition gained hundreds of thousands of signatures from around the world, but brands are now starting to change their products because of her work. Ella says, “Manufacturers and supermarkets are starting to make significant changes and the highlights for me so far have been Sainsbury’s and Aldi stopping the production of their plastic tampon applicators to ‘minimise the use of unnecessary plastic’! This collectively saves 16.7 tonnes of plastic annually and I’m excited for more changes coming up this year!”
Despite all the successes, Ella says it’s not all been plain sailing, “The main challenge was in the first-year, decision makers didn’t take me very seriously and likely thought I would go away with their long emails and excuses, but unfortunately for them, that didn’t happen. I continued regardless and this persistence paid off, the second year has been incredible, with manufacturers and supermarkets finally accepting requests to meet.”
Over 400 million single-use period products are disposed of every year in Scotland and around 340,000 are flushed down the toilet every single day. Last year, Zero Waste Scotland launched a #TrialPeriod campaign to encourage people to try reusable menstrual products.
Ella shares her tips for people who want to have a plastic free period; “My advice is to go for something you are comfortable using. If you use conventional products, switch to
eco-friendly versions that do the same job, minus the plastic!”
Ella’s achievements since she started her End Period Plastic campaign show that it is possible for individuals and groups to take a stand against some of the biggest companies and win. She has this advice for anyone who wants to start their own environmental campaigns, “You can do anything if you put your mind to it. If you are passionate about something, raise your voice and take action, ask lots of questions and never give up, we truly can all make a difference!”
Do you think you could take our Plastic Free Friday pledge and cut your own use of plastics?