How eco-friendly is your period? If you’re conscious about climate change or aware of the dangers of too much plastic exposure, you’ve probably already got your canvas shopping bag and glass water bottle! But have you gone plastic-free with your period care yet? Here we’ll explain why sustainable period care products are better for your body and recommend our favourite products and brands turning periods green!
- Traditional period care products are harmful to our bodies and the planet
- Period care products produce 200,0000 tons of waste each year!
- Period pads contain plastic and traditional tampons can often be full of harmful chemicals
- There are lots of options out there for safer and more sustainable period care products - from organic tampons and pads to period underwear and cups!
The Impact of Period Care Products on The Environment
Do you think about what happens to your period care products after you use them? It’s understandable if you don’t - you’re probably focused on other things like keeping painful cramping at bay! But when you stop to think about it, the amount of waste our periods create is kind of scary.
The average pack of period pads contains around 5 plastic bags worth of plastic.
It would be easy to assume that was all down to the packaging. Head down a period health aisle in a supermarket and you’ll be met with a wall of plastic packaging and cardboard boxes. But sadly it’s not. The pads themselves are also full of plastic! Most of the materials used to create period products aren’t biodegradable and along with their packaging create around 200,000 tonnes of waste per year.
So where does the waste end up? Well, a lot of it will end up in our waterways and our oceans. 8% of all waste that enters water treatment works comes from period waste, including items like period pads that aren’t even supposed to be flushed down the toilet! They can also end up on our beaches - a UK beach clean found an average of 23 period pads and 9 tampon applicators per kilometre of British beaches and period products are the 5th most common item found on European beaches.
Products that manage to make it to landfill rather than our oceans will still have an impact on our environment for centuries to come. The average tampon will take up to 800 years to decompose!
The Impact of Period Care Products On Our Bodies
So traditional period care products are not great for our planet - but did you know they aren’t created with our health in mind either? Let’s take tampons - something many of us insert into our vaginas without a care in the world, month in and month out. However, Dr Joseph Mercola once described tampons as a "ticking time bomb” and it’s easy to see why.
Did you know that many traditional tampons are made from a combination of rayon, cotton, polyester, polyethene, and polypropylene? A fabric combination you’d probably associate with fast fashion rather than menstrual health. Many non-organic menstrual products are also bleached for aesthetic reasons (which seems pretty unnecessary!) and to make the rayon more absorbent and softer. This process creates the chemical dioxin. Dioxin is harmful to both our bodies (consistent exposure has shown to increase chances of infertility and skin disorders) and the environment and yet has been a worrying byproduct of tampon manufacturing for decades.
There are also other toxins wrapped up in the creation of period products, including pesticides, GMOs and microplastics which all make their way into non-organic period care products and put us at risk of exposure.
Sustainable Period Care Options
If you are ready to make the change and swap to a more sustainable period care option, there are a lot of choices out there! Over the last few years, numerous Femtech brands have been spearheading innovations in this space, so whether you prefer tampons, pads or period underwear, there’s something out there for you.
Menstrual cups have been around for years and have grown in popularity dramatically since they were first introduced. Cups work by being inserted in your vagina and collecting your blood as your womb lining sheds. Unlike tampons, they don’t absorb the blood but simply collect it - so cups won’t dry you out or irritate you the way tampons can. Another great thing about cups is that you generally only have to empty and change them every 12 hours! We love this medical-grade silicone cup from Lunette.
Organic pads and tampons
If you’re most comfortable with traditional pads and tampons but want to avoid the eco-guilt and harmful chemicals, there are some organic sustainable brands out there, including Flo. These pads and tampons look and feel like the ones you grew up with are often made out of a more sustainable, chemical-free, but still incredibly absorbent fabric - bamboo!
Period underwear might be the easiest form of period care out there - you can get leak-free protection as fast as it takes you to put your knickers on in the morning. Absorbent, washable and reusable, they can totally replace your pads and tampons and are especially helpful for the days at the start and end of your period when you want something comfortable and secure, without worrying about putting something in your vagina. We love UK brands WUKA and NIXI Body.
If you don’t want to commit to a whole new underwear draw, reusable pads are a great alternative to period underwear. They use a similar technology to create an absorbent pad that can be washed and dried after every use, ready for your next period! Look for ones made from organic cotton with nickel-free poppers - like these pens from Wearemout.
Reusable Tampon Applicators
When it comes to period care waste, tampon applicators are one of the biggest culprits - and many of them are made out of plastic. DAME has created a solution to this problem with their reusable tampon applicator. Not only does it give you a helping hand without creating extra plastic waste but it can be used with their organic tampons for a fully sustainable period experience!
So has this inspired you to go plastic-free with your period care products? Let us know!