For everyone who's ever had a period, trying to find the best period products for you can be bit of nightmare. Tampons, pads, different brands— we're bombarded with options, but we don't often think too much about what goes into them. But a new initiative is trying to change that. Sustain Natural, an all-natural sexual wellness brand focused on women, has launched an online subscription service with their line of non-toxic menstrual products and a focus on ingredient transparency. Which is important because, you know, you put them inside your body.
"The FDA doesn’t require tampon and pad manufactures to list their ingredients or disclose them," Meika Hollender, who co-founded the brand with her dad, tells Bustle. "We wouldn’t even have access to what's in a lot of traditional brands... and when you find out, there's chorine bleach, rayon, dyes, and fragrances.... Your vagina is one of the most absorbent parts of your body, everything goes straight into the blood stream. So if you wouldn't drink chlorine bleach, why would you put it in your body?" It's a really good point. And it's easy to forget just how much of our lives we spend wearing tampons— which is what most of my friends use for their periods.
Luckily, Hollender has done the math. She points out that the average woman wears 12,000 tampons over the course of her life — that's six full years of tampon wearing. And, I have to admit, there's something that makes me uneasy about the idea of having bleached cotton chilling inside of me for six years. That's probably why Sustain is one of only two brands that's using bio-plastic in their tampons with a biodegradable plant-based applicator that's made of sugar cane. Pretty effing cool. And on their site you can build a kit that's just for you and your period needs.
Taking On The Tampon & Pad Tax
But the best part? Along with the product launch, the company is committed to fighting the tampon tax. For the first 30 days of launch, Sustain will match the dollars they collect in sales tax with a donation to the organization Girls Helping Girls. Period. This organization helps give low-income women access to menstrual products.
“This issue is low-income women not being able to access these products," Hollender says. And the problem is not just that the cost of tampons are out of reach for someone women, it's the taxes attached. That's why Sustain has joined up with Period Equity and the nationwide movement to remove taxes on tampons and pads because they are classes ‘nonessential’ items in 37 states.
"What happens when you have a tax on these products, is low-income women cannot use food stamps to buy menstrual hygiene products," she says. "So how are they meant to access these products?"
How Much Has The Tax On Period Products Cost Me?
Let's say you've had your period for 15 years. You've spent an average of $120/year on period products, with a sales tax of 7 percent aka ($8.40). Well, Sustain crunched those numbers, multiplying the $8.40 a year we spend on period product taxes by 15 years, which comes out to $126. Which, as shown on the photo below, Sustain will donate to Girls Helping Girls on behalf of Bustle's Sex and Relationships editor Michelle Toglia.
While a lot of us may complain about our periods and how annoying they are, the idea of going through them without access to menstrual products is horrific. And so many of us taking take having access to them for granted.
How To Get Sustain's Non-Toxic Menstrual Products
Getting them is really easy. You can create a kit that works for you. You go to the website and tell them a little bit about your period. What you use, how many you use, and it creates your kit. "Every period is different, and tampon companies never get it right when choosing how many ‘supers’ vs. ‘regulars’ you’ll need in a box," their website explains. "Build your customized period kit with our tampons, pads, and liners, and we’ll deliver it to you every other month. We’ve got you covered."
Finally, an answer to all of us with a wide-set vagina and a heavy flow.
Your period and how you deal with it is obviously a deeply personal experience. The choice is really yours and yours alone. But if you're worried about the consequences of using bleach, for the environment and for your body, and want to help a company remove taxes on tampons and pads, be sure to check out Sustain Natural.