We are on a kick for sustainability. From the use of metal straws along with the push for vegetarianism and zero-waste lifestyles, our society is more aware of our footprint on Earth than ever. However, something that many don’t think about is the impact that feminine hygiene products can have on the environment.
On average, women will use around 5 to 15 thousand pads and tampons in her lifetime while menstruating, according to National Geographic. Pads and tampons heavily rely on plastic, for example, tampons are wrapped in plastic, have a plastic applicator, and have a plastic string. These end up in landfills. Women are generating around 40 years – the average length a woman menstruates for – of plastic that ends up in landfills and doesn’t decompose easily.
So, what can we do to stay eco-conscious with our period care? The first step, looking for more sustainable methods for menstrual hygiene.
There are many alternatives to make tampons a little more sustainable. For one, cardboard applicators are more easily able to decompose in landfills. Applicator free tampons are another rising option. If you’d rather have an application, there are reusable applicators sold to use with applicator free tampons. These adjustments simply reduce the amount of plastic waste associated with tampons.
Menstrual cups, such as the Diva Cup, have gained popularity over the years. Menstrual cups virtually eliminates all waste associated with menstruation as the cup is reusable for up to one to two years, whereafter it can be recycled. The Diva Cup can be worn for up to 12 hours and holds up to an ounce of menstrual flow.
Period Underwear and Reusable Pads
If you’re more of a pad girl than a tampon girl, a recent trend in eco-friendly period care is period underwear, like Thinx, and reusable pads. Thinx is “period-proof” underwear. The underwear, depending on the product, can hold anywhere from half a tampons worth to four tampons worth of menstrual flow. Thinx is easily machine washable and comes in varying styles and sizes. Thinx underwear range from $24-$39.
Reusable pads, such as Lunapads, are also a great alternative. Lunapads are made with 100% cotton flannel and 100% cotton fleece. They can last between three to five years, depending on the level of care. They are also easy to care for as they are machine washable. Lunapads range from $12-$24 each. While initially an upfront investment, these options are very viable, easy to care for, and sustainable.
Another feasible option is transitioning to organic cotton-based menstrual products, like those from Lola. Organic cotton menstrual products are more biodegradable than traditional pads and tampons and are also better for you. Traditional pads and tampons can often contain potentially harmful ingredients including synthetic fibers, chemical additives, chlorine bleach, and dyes. Lola provides a subscription service, where your desired cotton menstrual products can be sent to you each month.
Whatever it be that you are most comfortable with, let’s start to think more sustainably with our period care. Let’s be eco-conscious.