Feature

Game changer

Green Lifestyle online

In a product market filled with endless choices for consumers, one idea can change the game. This is what 25 year old Aimee Marks, founder of TOM Organics, did with her range of organic sanitary products.

Aimee Marks

Aimee Marks, founder of TOM Organics, formed the idea for her organic range of pads and tampons in university.

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What first inspired the idea of certified organic, chemical free sanitary products?
"The idea first came to me when I was studying at university and was looking at the sustainability of tampon packaging. I noticed that the ingredients of tampons, which include chlorine bleach and other toxic chemicals, were terribly toxic and started looking for an alternative product for my own peace of mind. But when I didn’t find one it raised all these questions about how these products are produced.

So I began researching the lifecycle of the tampon, from when it is on the farm being grown as cotton and sprayed with insecticides, to when it is being processed and having rayon and tree pulp added to it. Looking at the health implications of these additives, I was alarmed because we are using these products on the most intimate parts of our bodies.

And the environmental impact of the product too; tampons spend seven years in landfill! That was it, I wanted to investigate whether this product could have a lessened impact if it were to be made organic, saw the benefits and TOM was born.

The main difference between TOM and other sanitary products is that it is the only certified organic tampon product on the Australian market. There are others that are marketed as ‘natural’ but may still use chemicals in the production process."

Does TOM stand for anything significant?
"The name TOM originally stood for Time Of the Month when we first launched, but it is no longer an official acronym now. The idea behind giving it a nickname was to break down conversational barriers about the topic, to get people talking. We want TOM to represent a movement that shows people they have a choice in the products they use to lessen their impact on the environment and their health."

I’ll admit that the chemicals in female sanitary products are something I have never thought about. What do you think might be the key to making people more aware of the damage the products they use do to themselves and the environment?
"Education is what it all comes down to. It’s not something you think of as a choice, but it is, so it all comes down to educating women that we do have a choice, and that we all can have a positive impact on our health and our environment through making the right one. You need to show people they have the power to encourage change with what they buy."

How has the general public responded to the product since you launched it three years ago?
"The response has been phenomenal, especially from women who were allergic to the chemicals that are in existing products and were so glad to finally have an alternative. There has also been a lot of loyalty to the product, which is unusual for such a young brand. But it’s a fresh, innovative idea that has been brought into the market so yes, there has been a very positive reaction to the range."

Only in your mid-twenties, you are already a strong advocate for helping the planet and reducing the use of chemicals in products. Do you think your generation will be the one that works to turn around the damage inflicted on our planet so far?
"Yes, definitely. This generation will be the ones who make a positive change, as there are so many support networks and movements around the world that were never there before now. Also there are many businesses that have weighed in on this issue and are making changes because consumers have demanded it. This is the message we really need to get out there; we need to vote with our dollar for businesses that are supporting our health and the environment... It’s sad that we have come to this critical point with the environment, but sometimes it takes that critical point to make people see they need to stand up and make the change."

What’s in store for the future of TOM Organics?
"We are looking into branching into the global market very soon, and we are also working on a new range that will be released shortly, so look out for it! It all comes down to our main goal of getting meaningful products onto the market."