Thursday, April 28, 2011

What's the worth of natural disposable products?

I was cleaning out my desk space and found this ad that I meant to post about a long time ago--I wish I could remember in which magazine I found it. For some reason, I want to say Time, although this seems like a potentially bold ad for them. 
"Not cotton? My pads and tampons aren't 100% cotton? Introducing Organyc, the brand with the unsurpassed advantages of 100% cotton. It's surprising when you find out your tampons, pads and panty liners aren't 100% cotton. Introducing Organyc. No brand offers better natural absorbency than Organyc. And you get 100% organic and biodegradable cotton. What else would you want so close to you?"

Anyway, it's an advertisement from Organyc, which sells disposable pads/tampons/panty liners made out of 100% cotton. I like this ad because it's straight to the point, without any stupid euphemisms or talk about being free. I also like that it draws attention to the fact that "mainstream" brand products are in fact not made of cotton (they're a strange blend of plastic and low-grade wood pulp leftovers).

However, I've always had a bit of trouble getting behind organic disposable products. Sure, they are a better option than most other brands. The cotton biodegrades, meaning less trash in landfills, and I imagine they're more comfortable to wear. But the pads are also much more expensive than mainstream products, so they're only an option for buyers with higher incomes.

I looked around online to find out how much a pack of Organyc pads would cost. At (not sure if they're available in the stores or just online), you can buy a case of four boxes for $19.99, a total of 40 pads. Each pad would cost about 50 cents each. When I compared this to data from the workshop I put together a few years ago, this is more than twice the cost of Always brand maxi pads (which where about 22 cents each).

However, I was surprised to find that the price of Organyc tampons is similar to the price of Playtex tampons. Four boxes of the tampons is also $19.99, which is a total of  64 tampons. Each tampon then is roughly about 31 cents, and again, comparing that to the data I used for my workshop, that's only about three cents more than buying Playtex tampons from Walgreens (at least in 2008).

But beyond cost, the thing that's never made complete sense to me about disposable natural products is the way they appeal to buyers' ecological awareness. It seems to me that someone who's in tune with helping the environment by reducing waste would be even more interested in reusable products such as the DivaCup which produce virtually no waste at all, so biodegradability or organic source materials kind of becomes a moot point. 

Anyone care to shed some light on this?


Aana Rae said...

I think that there's this idea right now (and it's not unfounded) that if it's organic, it's better. I also think that a lot of the time, women are simply not aware of what is in their tampons/pads. When they do find out what is in them, I think it's surprising. I think we all kind of assume that something that is supposed to be that close to a part of our bodies that is so sensitive, with all the blood vessels right up near the surface, that the things people sell us are safe for that area. I think most women never even consider what their sanitary napkins are made of. And so by appealing to this push right now toward the green, I think this company has a good thing going. The price difference seems to be out of this world, but honestly, it's not like those of us who are poor can buy organic products usually anyway, so I don't think that that is that much different than anything else organic.

Jamie said...

That's a good point, there is a pretty prevalent organic=good mentality going on.

One of the gals I work with told me about the last time she went grocery shopping, she bought as much organic stuff as she could. I said something like, "I like to do that too, but sometimes the organic fruits and vegetables are so much more expensive, it's hard to justify the cost," and she said, "Oh... well I didn't buy any fruits or vegetables..." I'm thinking, what the hell kind of organic food did you buy then?? I forget that you can get organic anything now. Just because it's organic, doesn't mean it's good for you. "All natural" Doritos are still Doritos.

But that's another rant. ;)

Janna said...

I use Maxim Hygiene tampons and pads, another organic and natural brand, and I LOVE them. I like to consider myself to be eco-friendly but I just can't bring myself to use a reusable cup. More so, though, I used them because they're healthier because they don't use chlorine bleaching or synthetics like rayon which supposedly is how bacteria develops. I think organic and natural tampons/pads are the perfect alternative for women who arrre environmentally conscience but aren't as comfortable with something like the diva cup. They're also a LOT more comfortable actually. The price doesn't bother me because you're paying for quality. I'd rather splurge a little on tampons - something I put INSIDE my body - and direct my savings to something less essential/intimate.


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