Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog


While you are probably aware of the importance of eating organic foods, have you thought much about the importance of organic feminine hygiene products? Our friends at 7th Generation have. Check out what they have to say and spread the word to the women in your life. Tampons are a big part of the monthly female lexicon. American women spend about $2 billion on them annually and will use about 11,000 during their lifetimes. But they are a product that few people regularly discuss. That dynamic needs to change: Tampons, which come into contact with some of the most sensitive tissue in a woman's body, aren't as straightforward as they seem. Tampons are typically made from a variety of materials including conventional cotton, rayon or a blend of both fibers. Conventional cotton is one of the "dirtiest" crops in the modern world. According to the USDA, in 2003 U.S. cotton farmers applied an eye-popping 55 million pounds of pesticides to their fields. And global cotton production also uses high levels of pesticides. Many of these agricultural toxins are classified as "extremely or highly hazardous" by the World Health Organization. In addition to polluting groundwater and soil, seven of the 15 most commonly-used cotton pesticides have been identified as possible human carcinogens by the EPA. (Others are known to damage the nervous system and are suspected of disrupting the body's hormonal system.) When we buy tampons made with conventional cotton, we contribute to these kinds of environmental pollution. Rayon also needs further scrutiny. The wood pulp that forms a base material for most rayon is typically treated with chlorine-based bleach. This manufacturing process results in the creation of chlorinated toxins, which can accumulate in the environment over time. Conventional tampons can also contain any number of other ingredients that women might not want to be intimate with. These include absorbency enhancers, synthetic deodorants and artificial fragrances. Add it all up and the term "feminine protection" becomes a bit of a misnomer. An alternative is to use organic cotton tampons made from pure natural cotton that hasn't been grown in a soup of pesticides. They don't contain rayon or synthetic additives, and most have been manufactured using a chlorine-free process that doesn't create chlorinated toxins. When you buy organic cotton tampons and pads, you make a statement that you want to make the world a safer, healthier place for you, your family and generations to come.