When Dr Earle Haas created the first tampon for his ballerina wife in the 1930s, he gave women for generations to come the freedom of choice – the ability to live life, whatever the Time Of Month. This freedom of choice is echoed in TOM Organic’s belief of an uncompromised love of life and a synthetic chemical free choice.
We sat down with Aimee Marks the founder of TOM Organic to find out all there is to know about feminine hygiene, so our mothers, sisters or daughters can make an educated choice when it’s their Time Of Month.
Tell us how did TOM Organic come about? What drove you to create certified organic feminine hygiene products?
My friends would probably tell you that I’ve always been “the tampon girl”, and it’s true. The foundations of TOM Organic go all the way back to high school. A design student at heart, it started as a quest to change the way that tampons were packaged (mostly because I was frustrated with them always falling out in my handbag), but it quickly evolved when I learnt about what they were made of and the impact conventional feminine hygiene products have on our health and the planet.
I knew that I had to create an alternative and began challenging the long ingredients list on the back of conventional packs. I felt a responsibility to do so, not just for myself but for women everywhere, to make tampons from 100% pure organic cotton, free from synthetics, and chemicals. And, that’s when TOM Organic was born.
How is a certified organic feminine hygiene product different from a conventional variation?
When you ask the question ‘What is in your tampon?’ Most women actually don’t know the answer – understandably, we just assume because a tampon is white and soft that it is made of cotton, which is often not the case.
The majority of conventional products on the market are made with synthetic fibres like rayon, polypropylene (plastic) and conventional cotton, which is one of the most heavily pesticide sprayed and genetically modified crops on the planet. We’re talking about a product that goes into one of the most absorbent parts of our body and we use up to 12,000 of them in our lifetime!
Organic producers spend valuable time and money ensuring that the products you buy are chemical free through every step of their supply chain. An organic certification ensures that every touch point is audited by an objective third party every single year – all the way from the farm to the supermarket shelf.
The BIG question everyone asks… Why should we care about what we put into our bodies?
TOM Organic was actually a trigger point for me turning to organic. I’ve always had a healthy outlook on life and was very active growing up, but establishing TOM really got me thinking differently – from both a business impact and health perspective. It can be quite confronting to discover what’s actually in your tampon, whether you’re into organics or not – it’s not one of those products that you really spend too much time thinking about. So for me it led to a whole new outlook on what I was putting into my body, not just the food I eat, but the skincare and cleaning products I use.
I believe that our bodies can only consume so many chemicals and every choice we make to reduce that load can only be a positive thing. Buying an organic tampon means you’re not putting synthetics and chemicals into one of the most absorbent parts of the body.
To me, organic tampons just make sense.
What are some of the synthetic chemicals found in conventional feminine hygiene products and why should we avoid them?
Almost every feminine hygiene brand sold in Australia (and the world for that matter) is made from a combination of the following: rayon/viscose, polypropylene, polyester and conventional cotton. And to that, you can often add perfume and bleach. This isn’t a long list, but it’s scary because it translates to wood pulp, bleach, plastic and pesticides.
There’s a reason we don’t eat plastic and drink bleach – because they don’t belong inside us.
One of the benefits of certified organic cotton is that it’s breathable. What does this mean and why is it important?
Breathability in pads is a no brainer. We all know the job pads have to do and the limited space in which they have to do it!
Unlike conventional pads, a certified organic cotton pad is made from certified organic cotton, which enables it to breathe easily. This is a result of its unique fibre structure, which means the cotton is able to help keep our sensitive areas cool and therefore less likely to cause irritation to sensitive skin.
In comparison, conventional pads made with synthetic fibres are unable to provide ventilation and are therefore more likely to cause irritation and rashes. In fact, many customers tell us that since using our pads they have experienced little or no irritation since making the switch from conventional pads to TOM Organic.
It’s like underwear; cotton is always the best!
You have just given birth to two beautiful girls – congratulations! What are the educational messages you will pass onto them about choosing certified organic feminine hygiene products?
Thank you! I’d hope by the time my girls are at that age, certified organic feminine hygiene will be the norm! Certified organic products have become so much more mainstream over the past couple of years as we’ve become more aware of the health and environmental benefits, so it excites me to think about how much more accepted and accessible they will be in 10 plus years time!
I want to instill in my girls a curiosity for what’s in the products they consume and where they come from. I think this knowledge inspires a healthy respect for our bodies and the planet and empowers us to make the best choices.
When you buy tampons and other feminine hygiene products it’s easy to forget that the cotton has been grown on a farm and then processed into a product. When we choose certified organic feminine hygiene products how are we supporting the health of our environment?
As I mentioned earlier, conventional cotton is one of the most heavily sprayed crops on the planet. The pesticides and chemicals that are used to grow the cotton (and keep away pests) inevitably end up in the soil and waterways, polluting animals and our drinking water.
Certified organic cotton is grown without the use of chemicals, which means we are not polluting the planet with chemical nasties. Although products grown using conventional methods may be cheaper, they also come with a higher health, social and environmental cost.
Take us through the range of feminine hygiene products you have? Any product testimonials or reviews that you’ll never forget?
The TOM Organic range consists of tampons, pads and liners. All made with certified organic cotton and free from chemicals, bleaches and synthetics.
We have also recently launched a maternity range, which we’re very excited about! What began as a journey to create organic feminine hygiene has evolved into a journey to support and nourish women at every important stage of their life, so developing a maternity range felt like natural step for us.
We’re amazed at how many testimonials we receive every day from women who tell us how much we’ve changed their lives and that they’d never go back to using conventional products. There’s too many to mention any one in particular. We get lots of women telling us that they suffered from irritation for years and they’re amazed that it’s completely disappeared when they’ve made the switch to TOM. They had no idea it was sensitivities to the synthetics and chemicals in conventional products that was causing the irritation!
TOM Organic is easily available in Coles and Woolworths, which is fantastic and great for convenience! Why should shoppers continue to support your product on the shelf of major supermarkets?
Because we need to ensure women everywhere know about and have access to a chemical free time of month, every month. We are still very much at the beginning of the journey as far as education goes – so it’s all about getting the word out to as many women as possible!
There are lots of beautiful specialty health food stores that we are proud to have our products stocked in but these stores are mostly located in inner city suburbs. Being in supermarkets enable us to reach many more Australian women and give them the choice they deserve.
You must be so proud of the difference you’re making to the health of women not only in Australia but all over the world. What’s the TOM Organic legacy and where to next?
For me it was about not comprising on quality, as well as not compromising on health or the environment. I love that the cumulative effect of using certified organic cotton products rids chemicals from the air, water, soil and our bodies – there is an immediate positive impact– it is all about protecting future generations.
As for the future, I’m always thinking about the next addition; often this inspiration comes from our community. We have some exciting products in the pipeline so watch this space!
On another note, how do you incorporate organic into other areas of your life particularly now that you’re a mum?
I buy local and seasonal whenever I can – I shop at farmers markets and I’m conscious of my purchases. I also grow simple things in my garden, not everyone has time to take care of a full on veggie patch (including me) but just about everyone with an outdoor space can grow herbs and a fruit tree. Start small – go from there.
About TOM Organic
TOM Organic is Australia’s leading organic feminine hygiene brand, and the first Australian company to launch an organic maternity range. All products are made with certified organic cotton, which means no chemicals, pesticides, bleach or synthetics, all the way from the farm to your body.
TOM Organic is stocked in Woolworths and Coles nationally and selected IGA supermarkets, health food stores and pharmacies.
Organic Feminine Hygiene Day is proudly brought to you by TOM Organic.
Click here for 12,000 reasons why you should switch to certified organic feminine hygiene products.