Did you know that an average woman man goes through 11,000 single-use disposable menstrual products in her lifetime? Tampons, pads and other products generate more than 200 thousand tonnes of waste, most of it being plastic. Only a tiny bit can be recycled, while the rest ends up in a landfill or gets dropped in the ocean.
While the product themselves pose an environmental risk, their production plays an even more important role in learning the extent of their damage to the environment and our health. To create a single pad/tampon you need to extract raw materials - primarily cotton which is lathered in pesticides and herbicides during its production and bleached to have the lovely white color we love to see. In order for the pad to stick to your underwear, it needs special and sometimes toxic adhesive, as well as plastic which makes them water-resistant. And we haven’t even started talking about its packaging, individual wrapping and the mess they leave behind.
Sadly, the story doesn’t end here. All the pesticides, ammonia and other chemicals used in the production can be absorbed by our skin creating potential health problems and that’s not the end! Once they end up in a landfill, over time the chemicals get absorbed in the ground, polluting our water and air. Is this something we wish to continue doing?
1. Menstrual cups
A societal favorite for the past few years, menstrual cups are revolutionary not only for your health, planet but also for your wallet. One single menstrual cup has a 10-year lifetime. Just imagine not having to buy any menstrual tampons for the next ten years, you’d be able to invest in your favorite book, bicycle or save it!
For the average woman in her 30s, switching to a menstrual cup now would mean 43 lb less waste and saving of 1113 USD.
Not only will you do your part in making sure you’re limiting your carbon exposure and waste, but you’ll also save some money in the long-run.
2. Reusable pads
Just like regular pads, reusable ones attach to your underwear to absorb blood and tissue, helping you manage your periods. Unlike regular ones, they don’t end up in our ocean, but in your wet bag and the washing machine. They’re usually made out of organic, unbleached cotton, zorb (a super-absorbing material) and a layer of liquid-repellent fabric to prevent leaks.
In addition to that, they’re suitable even for the most sensitive skin, or for women prone to fabric allergies who may not like regular pads due to their inability to let the skin breathe.
Although they are pricier than regular pads, they can last from 5 to 10 years of use and accommodate a wide range of needs, from spotting, light flow and a really heavy flow some women have.
3. Period underwear
Whether used as a period containing product or in addition to tampons or cups, period underwear is a great choice for all women who want to prevent leaks in any way. Ranging from the superlight ones with the absorbency of 1 tampon to heavy/overnight ones that can hold up to 4 tampons, they’re right for everyone.
They’re usually created in 3 layers, with the top one wicking the moisture away and preventing irritation, middle one designed to absorb the liquid and control the smell and the bottom one responsible for keeping everything locked in and secure.
Whether you’re a fan of reusables or not, the impact single-use menstrual products have on the environment is undeniable. While we cannot solve the global waste crisis, we can all do our small part in making the planet better for ourselves, our children and the generations to come.