Mexico City has introduced a ban on plastics that include bags, forks, cups, balloons, straws and tampons with plastic applicators–and despite how many view tampons as essential to women’s care, they are already disappearing from shelves.
“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.
Mexico is home to 126 million people who together produce over 6,000 tons of plastic waste, and single use plastics, officials argue, sit in landfills or pollute areas for their lifespan of 150 years.
Mexico City Environment Minister Mariana Roble, who initially introduced the ban, called single-use, plastic items “not essential” because there are alternatives available, including tampons with cardboard applicators, menstrual cups and organic tampons. However, women’s groups have called the city’s ban on the applicators an attack on human rights and have said that it creates a phenomenon of “menstrual poverty” because alternative products, like organic tampons or silicone menstrual cups, are more expensive and often hard to find.
Reporters from the newspaper Milenio could not find menstrual products at any stores in Mexico City but located them for sale in surrounding areas, according to Mexico News Daily.
The ban is spearheaded by Mexico City’s first woman mayor, which makes this anti-woman ban all the more infuriating. Robles has not acknowledged what the government is doing to ensure equity among women who live in poverty or do not have the means to pay a cost for “greener” products. Instead, she puts the onus on the manufacturers to figure out how to make it more affordable despite the lack of access for women across economic classes.
“It seems to us that it is part of the commitments that entrepreneurs should assume,” Robles said.