Our Individual Choices Are Killing Our Planet

I made a terrible choice the other day. A couple weeks ago I looked in both supermarkets and in both pharmacies within a 1 mile radius of my house and could not find my usual OB applicator free tampons. I have not used tampons with an applicator in at least 5 years. Before that I believe I used cardboard applicators and before that (for decades) plastic applicators.

I have since learned that there is a ‘tampon shortage’ in the country and it all now makes sense. Because I could not find my usual tampons, I jumped onto amazon, found OB tampons and clicked ‘buy’. When they arrived, I was mortified to find that they had plastic applicators.

Size of Applicator Free tampons compared to applicator tampons

I didn’t even consider that OB still made tampons with plastic applicators. I thought that they were the ‘environmental’ choice and only made the type I always buy, but obviously powerful market forces have OB still manufacturing tampons with plastic applicators.

We, collectively, are those market forces. On that day, I made a ‘buy’ purchase decision without spending 15 extra seconds to look over the details of that decision. And now I am stuck with 18 plastic applicator tampons. And all I can think about is where those plastic applicators will end up after I have finished using them. Because these are the things that I think about now that I have the time to think. I’ve already purchased a different brand, Cora, so I am better prepared for next month.

In our busy society we believe that we, individually, are important. We wake up each day and run around like chickens with heads cut off believing that what we do ‘makes a difference’ and maybe, some of us, are making a difference. But we are also, collectively, generating an obscene amount of waste and abusing our planet. I will contend that no matter who you are, NOTHING you do in each day can matter more than how we collectively look after each other and this planet.

Look I get it. There are powerful market forces driving our behaviors each day, in each hour. Our boss says that we have to get to a meeting at this time or we will be fired, and then our children will not eat. So we rush and we don’t take the time to consider all our options. We consume without thought because we think it’s important that we get to that meeting on time, and it is, for our individual family. But collectively? For everyone and for future generations? 100 years from now I guarantee it will not be important what any one of us has done in any given day.  All that will matter is what we have done together.

Since mankind first started organizing in hunter gatherer groups the only thing that has mattered is what we do collectively. Our collective action and cooperation is what has made us dominant over earth. And right now we are doing a TERRIBLE job of considering how our collective individualism is impacting earth and future generations, and even how it’s impacting current generations. The ‘cheap’ clothes we buy could be made with slave labor in China or Indonesia. We don’t bother to check.

Specifically, as it relates to managing my monthly feminine hygiene, I’ve made deliberate choices because I know that I do have choices. I just have to investigate them. Have I made the most environmentally friendly choices? Probably not. There are Thinx panties (I own two pairs but use them only at night). There are menstrual Cups (which would be a better environmental choice than tampons but as a sporty person I am hesitant).

I know that my individual choice to choose more sustainable options in this instance does not matter, unless I can convince every woman I know to also make different choices, and unless they can convince every woman they know, and every man who has daughters to make better choices. Especially in a Tampon Shortage, isn’t it a great time to try something new?