Sustainability and menstrual cycle
Back in 1926, sanitary pads were a revolutionary invention. They were a practical option for that context and society. Since then, sanitary pads and tampons have been our only options.
Now days we live in a different time, we have different needs, we have more access to information and we face an environmental crisis. Menstrual products should evolve with time too.
Taking care of the environment means looking with affection and attention to the future. Every action, however small it may seem, is capable of positively impacting the planet. We don’t want to be part of the problem. We want to be part of the solution!
What’s the problem with disposable sanitary pads and tampons?
Most period products are made of plastic materials and contain loads of chemicals that harm not only the environment but also our bodies. Toxic chemicals don’t belong in menstrual care products, and using them all day long can increase the chances of promoting unbalanced bacterial growth. Besides, tampons and pads aren't recyclable.
What impact disposable menstrual products have on the environment?
1 person uses roughly around 11.000 tampons in a lifetime.
5 Titanics = 200.000 tonnes. This is the number of disposable tampons and pads (+ their packaging) discarded per year!⠀
Pads are around 90% plastic. They end up in landfills, oceans, rivers, and beaches.
One pad can take 500 to 800 years to decompose. This means the very first disposable pad ever used is still on earth!⠀
The website Jezebel estimates, the average woman spends about $120 per year on disposable pads and tampons. So each woman spends approximately $5,600 on her period over her lifetime.
What are the alternatives out there?⠀
Menstrual collectors: They are hygienic, practical and offer 12hours of protection. Like a tampon, they are inserted into the vaginal canal to collect period blood. Here are some reasons to use menstrual discs or cups:
- They are a great sustainable option!
Rather than throwing something away each time we menstruate, we can just rinse, wash and reuse!
- You can save money over time!
Menstrual cup our disc can last for 5+ years. It’s an amazing investment.
- They promote a closer relationship with your period blood!
You don’t have to fear your period blood. It's not gross. It's natural :)
Period Panties: Many people love them because they’re reusable, comfy, and have multiples designs (high waist, cheeky, and boxer). If you never heard about period panties before, here are some reasons to convince you to try them on:
They are like regular panties!
- Different from pads that you can feel every time you move, period underwear are completely comfortable. You can't even notice when wearing them.
- Menstrual underwear are hygienic and sustainable!
One pair has the potential to replace disposable menstrual products + their packagings = significantly reducing period-related trash :)⠀
- You can wash it with your regular laundry!
Just put it in a laundry bag, on a delicate cycle and wait for your washing machine do its job.
Reusable cloth pads: Cloth pads are very similar to menstrual panties, the only difference is: they come in the shape of a sanitary pad. They are reusable, safe and hygienic! Prefere ones made of sustainable and organic fabrics ;)
Organic disposable pads and tampons: If you're used to disposable pads and tampons and didn't adapt well to the other options we mentioned above, you can always go for organic disposable options. Make sure to research well before buying to avoid green wash!
Text by Uanna Mattos.
Content and communication professional, with multidisciplinary interests. Bachelor in Social Communication with emphasis in Journalism at FAPCOM, Brazil.
She is co-author of the book “My Body, My Rules”, a book with stories of women who suffered psychological, physical and/or sexual abuse throughout their lives, by Editora Autografia.