Ladies, are you still flushing your used tampons? Because if so, just know that you are contributing to a huge problem.
According to the Guardian, half of all women in the UK are still flushing their tampons, unknowingly (or knowingly, those monsters!) causing drain blockages that can lead to floods and pricey removals.
It costs approximately $114.2 million a year to unblock drains in the UK, and that price is reflected in water bills. Not to mention, it results in environmental pollution ("sewage-related" debris comprises about six percent of the beach refuse in England).
Many women flush their sanitary products (pads, tampons, and applicators) believing that they'll dissolve like tissue paper (which of course they won't, given that they don't do that inside your body).
Writes the Guardian:
There’s been lots of coverage about the impending ban on microplastic beads in products such as face scrubs, but no explanation that pads, tampons or applicators in the marine environment don’t disintegrate like tissue paper. Over years they break down to become yet more microplastics in the ocean.
It's not just a problem in the UK, though. According to Robert A. Villée, the executive director of a regional sewerage authority in New Jersey, a big part of the problem is that "manufacturers don't make it very clear on the packaging what the disposal methods are."
"I have boxes of everything sitting down in my office. Now it might say somewhere in there in tiny text do not flush or dispose of in the trash, but it's not very clear."
Tampons that don't get stuck in drains (and don't end up in a waterway) eventually end up the same place they'd go if you just threw them out in the first place—in landfills—only with a lot of expensive and time-consuming steps in between.
Pumping stations use filter systems to either remove or break down debris, which then accumulates in "screenings," and are eventually dumped into landfills.
So if you just throw them out to begin with, you're saving the world a lot of time and money. So easy!