Go Green: 4 Top Sustainable Feminine Products for the Planet

Woman balancing the environmental impact of pads vs a menstrual cup

It may be common knowledge by now, but the truth is that our planet is suffering due to our daily actions and choices. Plastic has been pervading our world since 1907. It has reached our rivers, seas, oceans, and soil. We are eating and drinking it without even realizing it. However, people still think more about the convenience it provides rather than the massive impact it has on our planet and even our bodies. 

When we think of plastic pollution, we often recall videos of rivers clogged with shopping bags, or turtles and fish choking on brightly colored plastic bits.  

But, did you know that most single-use feminine hygiene products are also made of plastic? In fact, it can take 500 to 800 years for a menstrual pad to decompose! 

Shocking, isn’t it?

Luckily, there are greener options. Keep reading to find greener alternatives to maintain our feminine hygiene that also help our planet heal. 

What Are the Consequences of the Throw-Away Culture? 

Before jumping into the talk about sustainable period products, let’s first explain what kind of influence plastic has on our planet. 

Despite the excellent contribution plastic has made in some industries, its exponential growth has led to one of the most severe environmental issues – plastic pollution.

With the throw-away culture that has developed, plastic products have found their way from land to rivers, seas, and oceans. As they are subjected to winds and tides during their journey, they get broken down into small particles. Today, our waters are flooded with microplastics that end up inside animals, jeopardizing their existence, and playing a dangerous role in the marine food chain. 

Menstrual period products are no exception. They either end up in a landfill or the water.  So, if we want to make this planet a better place, we need to step away from the excesses of single-use products and disposable packaging and focus instead on sustainability. 

You May Wonder: Are Pads and Tampons Eco-Friendly?

Did you know that 90% of tampons, pads, and panty liners are made of plastic (polyethylene, polypropylene, and polyester)? Not only do the products themselves contain plastic but their package and wrapping do, too. When it comes to tampons, in most cases, they also come with a plastic applicator. 

On average, menstruation occurs for 40 years, and during that time, a menstruating person uses between 5,000 and 15,000 single-use menstruation products that result in enormous landfill waste. In the US alone, approximately 12 billion pads and 7 million tampons are disposed of annually. Now, remember the info from the beginning that it takes 500 to 800 years for a single pad to decompose. When we multiply those numbers and expand them to a global level, the results we get are staggering. 

Yet, every cloud has a silver lining. And in this case, that silver lining comes in the shape of environmentally-conscious women who have decided to ditch traditional disposables in favor of reusable and eco-friendly products. 

So, if you’re thinking about switching to more sustainable period products but still feel a bit hesitant, what follows in this blog should help you take that leap. 


What Are the Most Environmentally Friendly Period Products?

Many manufacturers can’t turn a blind eye to what’s happening, so they’ve been taking the initiative to start an era of eco-friendly menstrual products. Here’s a list of the alternatives you can choose and take care of your planet and your health:

Organic Tampons

Even though organic tampons aren’t reusable and end up in a landfill, they are certainly a much better option than regular single-use ones. They are produced with organic cotton or natural bamboo, meaning they are 100% biodegradable. What is more, they either come with a cardboard applicator or wrapped in recyclable BPA-free plastic. 

In case a tampon doesn’t come with an applicator, there’s a perfect solution to this problem called a reusable tampon applicator. It is made with medical-grade antibacterial materials, suitable for all tampons, and lasts up to 10 years. 

Organic and Reusable Pads

If you’re not a fan of tampons and prefer pads, there’s still a greener option – two of them, in fact. They are organic, disposable pads and reusable pads. While organic pads are made out of environmentally friendly cellulose and organic cotton, reusable ones are created from natural bamboo, cotton, and even recycled old plastic bottles. The latter is fixed to your underwear, washed after every use, and should last you up to 5 years. 

Reusable Menstrual Cups

Menstrual cups seem to be really taking off! Not only is it an eco-friendlier option, but a cost-effective one, too. Cups are made out of medical-grade silicone or natural rubber. While silicone may not be biodegradable, it is recyclable, which certainly makes it a greener option.

Cups are worn inside of the body, and they collect three times as much blood as a pad. They need emptying every 12 hours and can be worn through the night, or during any sports activity. 

But, this is where the most significant difference occurs. Cups can last up to 10 years! So, as estimates say, during the lifespan of a cup, around 2400 tampons would be saved. Over a 10-year period, a cup would generate only 0.4% as much plastic waste as single-use pads, and 6% as much as produced by tampons. That’s quite something! Not to mention that difference in cost – not only is it good for the environment, but for your pocket, too. 

Period Pants

Period pants are worn like regular underwear. They are made of natural fibers like cotton, bamboo, and synthetic fibers. What’s different from regular underwear is that period pants have an inner layer of super-absorbent fabric that is leak-proof. These pants can hold up to 4 tampons worth of blood, with special overnight pants designed to hold up to 10 tampons worth of blood. Period pants are a great alternative to single-use feminine hygiene products, as they last approximately two years. They are washed after each use. There are also various designs, and they are available in different sizes, fits, and absorbances. 

Final Thoughts 

Many environmentally conscious people are taking the initiative to create more sustainable period products and make this planet a better place to live. So, if we have options to make those days of the month easier for us and the planet, why not choose them?  

Never forget – the change starts with you. Treat the planet and your body with eco-friendly care. 

Contributing Writer: Vanja Petrovic

 

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