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Why Women Are Outraged At This City’s Single-Use Plastic Ban

March 4, 2021 By Jessie Stringfield

While some countries are realizing that access to feminine care products should be considered a basic human right and come at little to no cost to women, Mexico’s capital city is apparently doing just the opposite.

As of January 1, Mexico City has implemented a single-use plastics ban to cut down on plastic waste in the city with a population of more than 20 million. The city’s decision received applause until activists pointed out the serious consequences regarding women’s rights and health this plastic-ban causes.

Mexico City’s single use plastics ban is affecting women in untold ways.

“A measure that might sound very progressive and well-intentioned with an environmental commitment is neglecting the needs of women,” menstrual activist Sally Santiago told Reuters.

When Mexico City banned single-use items such as plastic cutlery, bags, and straws, tampons with plastic applicators had to go too. This outraged women’s groups who say that the ban on these plastic applicators undermines basic human rights. 

Many acknowledge that access to feminine care products should be a basic human right.

They are challenging government officials who suggest women look to more sustainable alternatives like organic tampons or menstrual cups saying that this ban creates the phenomenon of “menstrual poverty” because these tampon alternatives are out of reach financially to much of the Mexican population since more than 40% of the population lives in poverty.  

Mexico City Environment Minister Marina Robles acknowledged the backlash to the ban on plastic tampons applicators, saying there are affordable alternatives available such as tampons with cardboard applicators and menstrual pads. 

“We made a comparison and even an analysis of the groups of women who use tampons and we believe that it can be perfectly covered with this other type of material,” Robles said in an interview.

But for now, tampons are completely missing from store shelves.

Being that I conveniently live in Mexico City, I visited my nearest supermarket to have a look for myself and see exactly what feminine care options I had. It took me a second to make sure, but there were no tampons to be seen. This wasn’t as strange of a site as you might think. Mexico has a strong conservative catholic presence so pads were always more heavily stocked than tampons. However, I did not see any tampon alternatives such as menstrual cups or cardboard applicators. 

Hopefully, stores will begin to stock these alternatives for the 60% of the Mexican population that could potentially afford sustainable feminine care products such as menstrual cups which are more sustainable financially and environmentally in the long run.