Did you know that there is a tampon and disposable pad shortage in America? Store shelves that previously housed the multicolored boxes of menstrual products now stand empty, leaving nothing but an eerie gap in store aisles. From Walgreens to Target, this far reaching issue is impacting American women everywhere. Perhaps there is a solution to this rising crisis, and not one dependent on improved supply chains and rectifying staffing shortages, but one that’s made right here in the good old US of A. Handmade with love by women, for women, tested for more than 25 years in the worldwide market, and devoid of the relentless tidal wave of waste caused by plastic applicators and packaging that disposables create. Reusable cloth menstrual pads are the easy answer to today’s tampon crisis.
Let’s consider this issue starting with the very heart of today’s tampon shortage: raw materials, such as cotton and plastic, have become increasingly difficult to acquire due to pandemic instigated supply chain issues. This is a continuous issue we have been witnessing on a global scale, in every industry, since the Covid-19 virus first appeared over two years ago. These supply chain constraints lead to higher costs of raw materials which the production companies then pass along to the consumers who are forced to pay more, instead of the manufacturer. From the start of the year to the end of May tampon prices rose a whopping 10%! Disposable period pads also rose a startling 8%. Party In My Pants cloth pads rose 0%. We believe that sustainable period products should be affordable and available to all, not just the privileged or at the cost of other necessities that have also risen in price.
The rising cost of materials is not the only roadblock in the quest for financially sustainable menstrual care.
The European tampon supplier, Organic Project, reported a 300% increase in shipping costs to the United States this year. This, of course, means that importing tampons to stop-gap this shortage is a more strenuous task than might be first thought. The setbacks to tampon supply do not end with supply chain issues and shipping costs, however, as staffing shortages have also been to blame. Edgewell Personal Care, creators of the Playtex tampon, experienced heavy staff shortages due to waves of Covid-19 infections. The acute consequences of this staffing shortage are, in part, due to the strict qualifications required for these employees as they create a Class ll medical device.
Reusable cloth menstrual pads are a part of our future as much as they are a part of our past.
This is not the first pandemic shortage directly affecting American women either. The month of June showed us quite a panic as baby formula seemed to disappear from grocery store shelves. This scarcity was quickly felt by mothers everywhere, many of whom are now also suffering this same tampon and disposable pad shortage which is even more necessary in the tender time directly after childbirth. This is not a shortage of choice. Where other items in short supply can simply be foregone until they return to inventory, these menstrual products are essential to the lives of every menstruator in America- or should we let the streets flow red with blood?
Perhaps this shortage is also due in part to a lack of attention and foresight in this area. The CEOs for the world’s largest tampon suppliers are men and have always been men. Where the toilet paper and cleaning supply shortages were quickly rectified, little to no attention has been paid to this shortage that affects half of the population and is only marginally represented on their corporate boards. Gathering data on this shortage, a common policy to prevent similar issues in the future, has largely been overlooked in this instance. However, if you compare this reality with the one at Party In My Pants, a women owned and operated company, you will find that nothing related to this time of difficulty has been overlooked. When supply chains became an issue we began troubleshooting immediately. Solutions were found and prices remained the same, due in large part to the fact that we are menstruators and understand the importance of keeping these products available and accessible to women everywhere. This is not something that should be swept under the rug as a minor lapse, but looked at as a symptom of a much larger systemic issue at the very heart of the feminine hygiene industry- an industry projected to be worth more than $54 billion by 2028.
Over the course of a lifetime of menstruation, approximately 40 years, tampons will also cost the consumer more than cloth pad alternatives. Using Omni Calculator’s Period Product Calculator, we can estimate that the average menstruator will spend a minimum of $1964 on tampons over a lifetime. This cost does not include any liners or pads that may be used to prevent leaks or deal with spotting. Reusable cloth period pads will have much less of an impact on your wallet over the course of your menstrual years. Averaging six pads per period at a cost of $14 per pad (the price of our Medium Pad) and an average lifespan of 5 years per reusable pad, a menstruator using cloth pads will spend a contrastingly small $672…. over a WHOLE lifetime! This number becomes even more impressive when considering the rising cost of tampons and the much more stable price of Party In My Pants cloth pads.
The facts of the matter are clear: tampons are no longer a viable option. Reusable cloth menstrual pads are a part of our future as much as they are a part of our past. Each of us learns at a young age the necessity of these period products and we often go forth into adulthood using the same products our mothers did when they were our age, since they were the ones who taught us about this special part of our lives. However, the future is always changing. Each day presents new challenges, in this instance a tampon shortage in the heart of America. Each new day also brings revolutionizing solutions and a chance to try something new, something like Party In My Pants reusable cloth pads.