Your Period And The Environment

How can you be more environmentally conscious during your time of the month?

Did you know that your period may be wrecking havoc on the environment and even your health? The average woman, transgender and nonbinary person who menstruates will spend approximately 2280 days on their period and use over 11 000 pads or tampons in there lifetime. 

Most pads and tampons contain nonbiodegradable and potentially toxic plastic and other synthetic materials like petrochemical additives and glue, as the string attached to your tampon is actually glued on rather than into the tampon. 

Nearly all pads and tampons contain bleaches and nonorganic cotton materials such as rayon and wood pulp. These materials are known to contain pesticides and herbicides including diuron a toxin which the World Health Organisation has linked to immune system suppression, reproductive problems and cancer. 

Shradha Shreejaya, a women’s health activist and sustainable menstruation advocate has stated, “Tampons and pads get so close to our body and our sensitive tissue. Think about how much exposure you get to these products over the years.” 

Pads and tampons also have a detrimental effect on the environment. They generate an astounding amount of waste every year. It is estimated that over 100 billion…yes you read that right, BILLION hygiene products are disposed of annually.

Ever wondered how much waste you personally generate. Calculate it with this waste calculator

Due to tampons and pads containing plastic which do not biodegrade, it will take about 500 – 800 years for each tampon and pad to decompose. When these products are incinerated (popular in developing nations), they produce toxic fumes including carbon dioxide.

In Stockholm research was concluded that the plastic back strip of a sanitary pad and the plastic on a tampon applicator which are typically made from low density polyethylene are particularly damaging to the planet. They also take centuries to break down and require last amounts of fossil fuels to make.

The manufacturing of disposable menstrual hygiene products generates a total carbon footprint of about 15 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions which is equivalent to about 35 million barrels of oil.

Disposable pads, tampons and applicators are also polluting our waterways and harming marine wildlife. The Trash Free Seas program at the Ocean Conservancy said they had collected over 27 938 used tampons and applicators on beaches around the world on a single day in 2015. This is due to the fact that many people are flushing them down the toilet.

Other than not flushing pads and tampons down your toilet, we’ve put together some other tips that you could take to make your period more sustainable:

  1. Use reusable menstrual hygiene products such as menstrual cups, reusable sanitary napkins and period underwear.
  2. Choose organic products where you can and support transparent brands.
  3. Demand that corporations make plastic free sanitary products.
  4. Help make menstruation a bigger public priority with the ultimate goal being that periods are more sustainable and affordable.

Overall, we hope that stigma around periods and your flow start to change and that people start to advocate for more sustainable period products around the world.


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