We’ve been catching up with Ella Daish, who has been campaigning for plastic-free periods. Ella’s #EndPeriodPlastic campaign now has the support of over 106,000 signatures! Ella talks to us all about the support she has received, next steps with the petition and other eco-issues like the problem with flushing period care.
What are the next steps with your #EndPeriodPlastic petition?
The next steps for the campaign will be to continue putting pressure on the brands and supermarkets that the campaign is targeting. I will continue to call on them to take responsibility and make change happen. I also want to continue growing support, raising awareness and spreading the message of the campaign to a wider audience. This will mainly be achieved through the press and social media. It’s also important to continue encouraging the use of eco-friendly period products and reusables, which will have a direct impact via consumer demand.
The petition has had a lot of support, how do you feel about this?
I am honestly delighted that the petition has received such an overwhelming response. It has been inspiring to see so many passionate individuals raising their voices to say how unaware they were of this issue, their reasons for signing the petition and how much they desire change. There has been so many wonderful words of positivity, support and encouragement from individuals and organisations. I could not have hoped for a better response that continues to empower me in the fight to #EndPeriodPlastic.
You’ve been passionately talking about the problem with flushing period care, could you please explain the impact this has on the environment?
There are multiple environmental impacts associated with period care. Flushing period products is one of the biggest problems, as they can literally go from toilet to tide. According to the IES (Institution of Environmental Sciences), it is estimated that a shocking 2.5 million tampons, 1.4 million sanitary towels and 700,000 pantyliners are flushed down UK toilets every day! They can then enter rivers, oceans and subsequently end up on beaches when sewers overflow. If there is heavy rain, sewage-treatment works are allowed to let rainwater and sewage overflow, together with any items that have been incorrectly flushed! This litters and negatively affects our oceans. Their high plastic content means that they break down into micro-plastics and fibres overtime, which in turn are ingested by marine life and birds.
Why do you think people are unaware that they should dispose of products in a bin, not a toilet?
I would say one issue is the lack of education. At my school when we learnt about menstrual cycles, not once were we told not to flush, or of the impacts of doing so. This can be changed easily by including this within menstrual education. I would say another step that needs to be taken is to have logos in all toilets in the UK, which display the harmful environmental impacts of flushing and the blockages they can cause.
Looking at these period-related eco-issues from a wider perspective, why do you think these are only now coming under scrutiny?
The threat of single-use plastic has gained huge media coverage this year, with its adverse environmental impacts taking centre stage. This has naturally put this topic at the forefront of our thoughts. It has made us all consider the role of plastic in our lives, the waste it produces and the damage it causes worldwide. This has led to us reflecting upon what we use in our daily lives and actively taking steps to reduce our plastic consumption and limit waste. Only when people start to focus on singular products and ways to substitute for them, do they then begin to realise the extent of this issue and how plastic is being used to excess. I think that these period-related issues have started to crop up due to this increasing awareness, as well as it being plainly obvious (with so many eco-alternatives out there) that the plastic content in period care is totally unnecessary.
What eco-issues are you hoping to tackle alongside period plastic?
Doing this campaign work outside of my job as a postal worker has made me realise that environmental work is where my passion lies! It has led to numerous fantastic opportunities to not only spread awareness of this issue but also for me as an individual and I am embracing every single opportunity that comes along! Recently I became a regular contributor to Eco-Living magazine and it is brilliant to have a column where I can highlight various eco-issues. I want to continue to spread the word that nothing other than the three p’s should be flushed down the toilet. I will continue, of course, to work towards eliminating plastic-waste in all forms, as unfortunately, this problem does not stop at our period care. Additionally, I would like to explore other avenues such as participating in more citizen science and learning more about microplastics and their impacts on the environment and animals.
What projects do you have in the pipeline?
I am going to become more actively involved in activities ranging from beach cleans to citizen science as well as other related events. I plan to do several eco-focused challenges and adventures over the next year. Keep an eye out on social media for eco-period action happening soon!