You may have long ditched plastic bags, plastic straws and other single-use plastics for eco-friendlier options, but what about your period products? According to CNN, the average menstruator will use between 11,000-16,000 pads or tampons in their lifetime-- that’s roughly 350 to 400 pounds of waste. Concerned? Let’s break down the eco impact of conventional period products and what you can do about it.
Disposables: How They Are Made
Conventional pads and tampons are often made at least partially from synthetic materials that don’t decompose efficiently. From packaging to applicators, conventional tampons are loaded with plastic and nylon. Pads usually contain even more plastics, including the leak-proof base and the adhesive that sticks to your underwear. Fossil fuel emissions from making both the plastic and cotton in these disposables carry a heavy carbon footprint: 15 million tons of greenhouse gases according to the United Nations Environment Program. Plus, many conventional pads and tampons contain fragrances, bleach, pesticides and other ingredients that may cause allergic reactions or pose potential health risks.
Disposables: How Much Waste They Create
In the United States alone, approximately 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons are discarded each year. Many of these products end up in our landfills as plastic waste, or, if we choose to flush them down the toilet, break down into harmful microplastics that pollute our waterways and end up in the bellies of marine animals. Plastic tampon applicators alone can take 20+ years to break down in marine environments.
Safe + Sustainable Alternatives
When it comes to eco-friendly period care, simply switching to reusable products can make a big difference. Menstrual cups like the June Cup are made with medical-grade silicone that can be reused for 5 years, greatly reducing the environmental impact of your monthly cycle. If you’re looking for external period care, reusable underwear like the June Period Underwear also offer a sustainable solution— they absorb your flow and can be washed and worn over and over for many years.
Making your period a little easier on the planet also makes it easier for your body. Menstrual cups and period underwear are healthier, comfier alternatives you can wash and wear for years to come.
Ready to have a more sustainable period?