Did you know that 4.3 million disposable menstrual products are used in the UK each year?
Considering that conventional period products contain up to 90% plastic, with menstrual pads containing the equivalent of 4 plastic bags, you can only imagine how damaging it is to the environment! I’m ashamed to admit that I had absolutely no idea how damaging menstrual products are until a few years ago. Growing up, there was never any mention of it. You either used tampons or pads, and it was pretty much as black and white as that. There was no discussion about plastic free alternatives, however in the past year there has been a lot of noise made about sustainable periods and what other options are out there.
So, what is the problem with period pollution?
Menstrual products contain so much plastic that a sanitary pad can take up to 500 years to breakdown! Another huge part of the problem is that people still flush pads and tampons down the toilet. In fact, it’s estimated that every single day in the UK about 700,000 panty liners, 2.5 million tampons and 1.4 million pads are flushed down the toilet! These products don’t just magically disappear, they end up clogging up our sewers and escaping into our rivers and seas. A report by the European Commission found that period items are the fifth most common period item washed up on beaches.
This is utterly shocking! Period products will not only pollute our waters and damage our marine life, but who wants to go for a nice walk along a beach that’s littered with tampons.
So far, over 100,000 people have signed a petition calling on companies and supermarkets manufacturing single-use period products to take responsibility for the environmental impacts they are having and to make the switch to plastic free products. The petition covers menstrual pads and tampons including applicators, wrappers and packaging. If you haven’t signed yet, then please add your name here.
In the meantime, there are lots of options if you want to have a more sustainable period right now.
- Menstrual cup – if you’re looking for a zero-waste alternative to tampons, then the cup is the one for you. It is essential a small silicone cup that you insert inside you to collect blood on your period. The cup can be used over and over again, so if you look after it properly then it will last for a really long time.
- Reusable pads – washable cloths have been used historically by women during their period, but now reusable pads are making a comeback. They can be made from lots of materials including cotton or even bamboo fleece. What I love the most about them is there’s a whole community of people on sites like Etsy making them so you can have ones with every pattern imaginable. I’ve ever seen Harry Potter ones. You just use them like a conventional pad but after use you just soak them in cold water and throw them in the wash. They might be more expensive that a normal box of pads, but you’ll soon make that back because you’ll be able to use them over and over. I’ve had mine for 18 months now, and they’re still going strong.
- Period pants are the newest product on the scene. They look just like a normal pair of underwear, but they contain a thick gusset which absorbs any blood like a would. You can also choose different absorbency levels, so you can find the perfect pair that will work for you. Just like the reusable pads, they can just be thrown in the wash when it’s time to change them.
What products do you use for your period? Or is there any that you want to try? Comment below.