Government under pressure to introduce plastic-free products in secondary schools

Charities, campaigners and period brands join forces to demand that free period products in secondary schools should be plastic-free

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From September 2019, the government has committed to providing free period products in English secondary schools and colleges. A coalition of charities and sustainable British brands revolutionising the period sector have joined forces in an unprecedented move to demand that these free period products are plastic-free. This follows the government’s official declaration of an environmental crisis in April 2019. Plastic period products are a major component of plastic pollution and the fifth most common waste washed up on beaches.

In an open letter addressed to the Department of Education, charities including City to Sea, The CupEffect, Bloody Good Period, and brands DAME, WUKA and Natracare, say ​“Period products should be given out free-of-charge in schools and they should be plastic-free too. With the invention of plastic-free and reusable period products, the government has the power to ensure that, for the first time, they can help an entire generation of young people have better periods. We owe this to them, and the planet.” City to Sea have started a petition and the coalition urges those that agree period products in schools should be plastic-free, to sign.

The government announced in March 2019 that period products would be free in English secondary schools and colleges after campaigners highlighted that girls from low-income families miss school during their period as they are unable to afford sanitary protection.

However, the government has also challenged schools to go plastic-free by 2022. Yet a recent tender to provide free period products to girls in schools did not include provision for sustainable/plastic-free options. After a persistent effort from many sides, and the support of MPCaroline Lucas, an amendment was added.

If the government fails to provide plastic-free period products, the equivalent of 90 million plastic bags will be thrown away by pupils annually. This will only add to the existing period plastic problem. Plastic is currently found inside the sanitary towels and tampons of leading brands’ products, and used in abundance in their primary and secondary packaging. The result has a wider environmental impact: a recent UK beach clean-up found 9 used plastic tampon applicators per 1km beach.

The threat of such devastating plastic waste is the driving force behind this coalition taking action.Independent campaigner Ella Daish, whose own petition to make all menstrual products plastic-free has garnered 194,000 signatures since last year, has also signed the letter.

The letter can be read here: ​https://wearedame.co/pages/open-letter
The petition can be signed here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/plastic-free-schools-need-plastic-free-periods

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