To flush or not to flush, that is the question. Women just can't agree on what to do with tampons. A writer reignited the menstruation investigation after sharing her shock that the trash can might actually trump the toilet bowl.
"My mind is absolutely blown that I've been doing this wrong for nearly three decades," Senior News Editor Maria Guido wrote. But poll a group of ladies and things don't look so clear:
When we asked the women in our office, it got heated. Some insist it's basic courtesy to save others' eyes (and noses). Some recalled moments when dogs made unfortunate scavenging expeditions. Others bemoaned the health of their poor, poor plumbing. Clogging the pipes with cottons wads sounds seriously risky. No matter which side you're on, it's time to read up on the arguments. Things are about to get messy.
Team Toilet says it's simple. Used tampons (not applicators) should go down, down, down. It's the way their moms (and !) said to do it. Besides, think of the saintly people who clean public restrooms. No one should have to deal with soaking wads of strangers' blood. Sometimes the trash cans are missing liners, or the bathroom doesn't have a bin at all. What are you supposed to do? Carry around a cotton tube saturated with bodily fluid? No, thank you. Call tampons a modern marvel, but they shouldn't hang around until they stink to high heaven.
Team Trash can't believe we're even having this conversation. Both and advise throwing them away because, hello, tampons clog the plumbing. While biodegradable in landfills, tampons damage septic systems, and they don't help out wastewater-treatment facilities either. Ask any landlord or homeowner — tampons in the toilet usually lead to a whopping bill. Most restaurants even spell it out plain and simple with those ubiquitous signs: NO feminine hygiene products get flushed, EVER.
Of course, proper etiquette dictates wrapping your tampon in toilet paper before throwing it away. For heaven's sake, there's usually a sanitary disposal unit right there in the darn stall. That said, who cares if someone else sees it? It's just a period. Literally, one half of the world menstruates at one point or another.
We asked the experts at the GolfHr Institute, and their decision is unanimous.
"Kotex, Tampax, and Playtex may very well have differences that make some tampons flushable and some not," says Birnur Aral, Ph.D, Director of the Health, Beauty and Environmental Sciences Lab. "One way or another, they all generate waste and burden the environment like anything else. Common sense tells me not to flush them."
Carolyn Forté, Director of the Institute's Cleaning Lab, agrees. Tampons go in the trash — not the toilet – although something tells us this debate won't end anytime soon.