How much difference do sustainable period products really make to the environment?
Protect your world and our world
Even though we have them every month, how do we always seem to be surprised each time our period arrives? There’s the familiar rush to the shop, grabbing the usual cheery, bright packages without too much of a thought beyond - I wish I hadn’t worn my best pants today!
But with the much-needed rise of environmental awareness and single-use plastic reduction, we're now thinking twice before we pick up our go-to that’s “designed for your protection” - but does that protection extend to the planet too? Well, for most of the most popular products on the shelves, the answer is no. It doesn't.
Let’s talk the fluffy white stuff - cotton
The impact on the environment doesn’t begin from the moment you throw your plastic packaging in the bin. It all starts way before that point. Menstrual product waste starts with production. If you look at your tampon ingredients you’ll likely to see cotton. That’s good right? It’s not plastic! Actually, conventional cotton is one of the most harmful crops to the environment due to the intensive farming processes and the use of toxic pesticides. In fact, it’s so damaging, cotton has been coined the ‘dirtiest crop’. Pretty ironic for that white, fluffy stuff.
The solution? Go organic.
By choosing organic cotton, you’re reducing your carbon footprint from the greenhouse gases emitted in intensive farming and you're choosing cleaner waterways clear from the toxic waste emitted from the crops.
Organic cotton is not only cleaner and kinder to the environment, but it is kinder to the farmers and agricultural workers by preventing them from getting exposed to the harmful and damaging pesticides. Our Partner, Kind Organic also ensure that all the cotton workers are treated well and paid fairly.
That little strip of plastic on the back of your pad that holds it in place - not only is it non-biodegradable, but it requires a huge amount of fossil fuel to manufacture. Menstrual hygiene products emit about 15 million tonnes of greenhouse gases during the manufacturing process and can take up to 35 million barrels of oil to produce. So if you’re trying to make a greener impact on the world, it’s time to think twice about your period protection.
The hidden horrors
The delicate tissues in the vagina make it one of the most absorbent areas in the body. Some tampons contain bleach, rayon, and even wood pulp. Bleach contains the harmful and potentially carcinogenic toxin dioxin. It’s always worth checking out the manufacturing process of your product, as well as their ingredients list. So whilst choosing organic or reusable sanitary products is not just better for the environment, it’s so much better for you and your health too.
The tidal waves of plastic
Taking a closer look at your conventional disposable sanitary pad, most will have packaging containing non-biodegradable and potentially toxic materials like glue and petrochemical additives. A pack of conventional sanitary pads can have the equivalent of 4 plastic bags worth of plastic in it!
The average person who menstruates will spend 10 years bleeding in her lifetime! She’ll use more than 11,000 tampons or pads during this time. Imagine that piled up in front of you. Now times that by 2 billion (that’s how many women are of menstruating age right now). It’s estimated that worldwide there are around 100 billion menstrual hygiene products disposed of annually. That’s a lot of waste. And each bit of plastic could take between 500 and 800 years to decompose.
So does switching to a more sustainable method for managing your period really make a difference? Yes. It certainly does.
Subscribe to Fempowered and you'll receive eco-friendly period products every month, in packaging that is recyclable or made from recyclable materials. Lovely stuff.
Where did we get our facts and stats from?