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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at WVU chapter.

You may have never realized, but feminine hygiene products contribute to a fair amount of waste. Everything from the packaging to the plastic tampon applicator adds up. An average person will use around 20 tampons per period, according to the Huffington Post, and with 38 average years of menstruation, that adds up to 9,120 tampons per person. Not just that, but the plastic used in tampon applicators and in pads is the largest contributor to global warming, as written about by Tanya Ha in her book “Greeniology 2020: Greener Living Today, and in the Future.” 

Looking at all this may seem overwhelming, and rightfully so. None of us asked to be blessed with menstruation, but there are some simple switches that can help us all reduce our waste. 

1. Use Cardboard Applicator Tampons

 This might just be one of the easiest solutions to quickly minimize the waste accumulated via your period. The cardboard will biodegrade much faster than plastic and doesn’t put as many pollutants in the atmosphere. However, commercially produced menstrual products still use a large number of chemicals, so search in health food stores or online places, such as mylola.com, to find organically produced products to help the environment and your body.

2. Use a Menstrual Cup

 Over the past few years, the menstrual cup has risen in popularity with YouTubers, such as Safiya Nygaard, testing them out. The menstrual cup practically eliminates any waste created from a period. They can be reused for years and often come with cloth pouches to carry and store them in. Though they cost more upfront, varying from $20-$40, you will save money in the long run. Instead of buying a $15 box of tampons every five months, you can just purchase a menstrual cup once. I personally use a menstrual cup, and though there is a learning curve at first, the actual insertion and usage of it isn’t as scary as everyone makes it seem. 

3. Invest in Period Underwear or Cloth Pads

 If the idea of using a menstrual cup isn’t up your alley, consider using period underwear or cloth pads. Again, Safiya Nygaard, along with other YouTubers, have tested out period underwear, the most notable brand being Thinx. These work essentially like a pad or pantiliner would, except after each day they are able to be washed and reused. If you have a heavier flow, these might be better to use like a pantyliner, just to be on the safe side. 

4. Talk about Menstruation

 We need to remember that talking about our periods should not be a taboo topic. It’s a naturally occurring part of our lives. Currently, lawmakers don’t require manufacturers to disclose the ingredients used in menstrual products. This is problematic for our health (and the Earth’s) because, according to Women’s Voices, tampons have been tested to show that they contain possible carcinogens and other chemicals. By making periods a mainstream conversation, it puts more pressure on lawmakers to make sure the products are produced ethically and without any dangerous chemicals.  

The waste that a period causes isn’t something that many people stop and consider, yet it causes an obvious strain on our Earth’s resources. Hopefully, this article made you more aware of how waste accumulates through mundane activities and encourages you to look into other ways to help the environment and yourself while on your period. 


Edited by Sydney Keener

Eliza is a Sophomore at West Virginia University. She is currently majoring in Environmental Microbiology with a minor in Environmental Protection and Sociology. She is from Parkersburg, West Virginia. Eliza can often be found tending to her many plants.
Rachel is a graduate student at WVU majoring in journalism with minors in Appalachian studies, history and political science. In addition to writing for Her Campus, she is also a publicity intern for Arts and Entertainment and a news intern for Univerisity Relations. She is from Princeton, West Virginia and loves her state and its beautiful mountains. She is passionate about many things including dogs, musicals and the Mountaineers.