By Celia Pool, DAME Co-founder
At DAME we’re often asked how we got into the tampon business. It’s a fair question. Travelling tampon salesperson is definitely not something I would have imagined doing if you’d asked me ten years ago.
Like many good start-ups, the initial idea came about after my co-founder Alec and I had sunk a few glasses of wine - but it still seemed to make commercial sense the next day. Back in 2015 we started up a period subscription service, delivering a whole range of branded period products to women across the UK. It was here we saw first hand the impact that tampons were having on our bodies and the planet. Three issues hit us hard:
100 billion period products are thrown away every year. That’s enough to circle the planet 250 times. Most of these are single use, contain plastic and cannot be recycled. Tampons are a significant part of the problem. In the UK, 80% of tampons users prefer applicators. As a result 1.3 billion single-use applicators are chucked away in the UK every year. None of these can be recycled - even cardboard applicators tend to be coated in plastic. It’s mad to think that each applicator is used for about 5 seconds, yet takes over 500 years to degrade.
Most tampons contain synthetics treated with chemicals and cotton sprayed with pesticides. It’s common to find chlorine, dye, fragrance, rayon, polyester and glue in a standard tampon - not exactly what you want to be putting in the most absorbent part of your body. Especially when you consider the average woman has a tampon inside her for 7.5 years of her life.
Women have been menstruating since time began, yet the industry uses the language of discretion. We speak more openly about contraception methods than we do about period care. As a result, young girls are made to feel ashamed of their periods, and this has serious ramifications for their overall body image and confidence. I can’t bear to think of my own daughter growing up that way.
It got to the point where we couldn’t ignore these issues any longer. So we took a deep breath, wound up our subscription service, broke the news to our investors and set about creating our own products.
After two years of careful design (and a lot of tampon pondering) we launched D, the world’s first reusable tampon applicator, and our range of organic, toxin-free cotton tampons. Rather than creating products to be hidden away, we designed them to be displayed on your bathroom shelf alongside your other preferred bathroom brands, so that we can finally start to normalise periods as an everyday part of life for half the global population.
In the past year alone we’ve sold to women in over 50 countries, secured a nationwide listing in Waitrose, certified as a B Corp and won a Dezeen Design Award (we’re pretty sure we’re the only period brand ever to win a design award!) We’re really excited to bring more choice to the period category, and to offer the millions of tampon fans out there an option that’s better for their bodies and the planet.