We say no to plastic bags, straws, and even disposable razors, but did you know thatmenstrual pads are made from up to 90% plastic? That’s the equivalent of four plastic bags per pad. Due to this plastic content, pads take 500-800 years to decompose, while the average tampon about six months, not including wrappers and applicators. Additionally, up to two billion menstrual products are flushed down Britain’s toilets every year, meaning products that don’t end up in landfill often end up in our oceans and beaches.
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It’s clear that ourmenstrual products aren’t all that great for the environment, but it can be hard to find sustainable options when periods can be such a taboo subject. Luckily, you don’t have to purchase packs of plastic filled sanitary items every month as there are a whole variety of sustainable period products.
Menstrual cups and discs
Menstrual cups have been around since the 1920s, but they were never received with open arms the way tampons and pads were. Now, menstrual cups like those from Organicup and Saalt are having a resurgence. These cups and discs are silicone and often last for up to five years - that’s 60 periods!
To use a menstrual cup, insert it into the vagina and remove it every few hours as you would a tampon. Then just empty its contents, rise it and use it again. It can take a while to figure out which cup or insertion method works best for you, but once you find it, you won’t look back.
Menstrual cups are also easy to sanitise between periods. The most effective method is to place your cup inside a metal whisk and boil it in a pot of water for five minutes.
Remember, if your cup is sticky to the touch even after cleaning, shows any signs of physical damage such as cracking, or takes on a funny smell, then it’s time to get a new cup.
Many disposable pads have convenient wings that adhere to your pants so that they don’t move around. Reusable menstrual pads work just the same. These reusable cotton pads often come in packs of two or three and can snap into your underwear.
Reusable pads can also come in a range of absorbency, and some brands even come with inserts, so you can double up if you need to.
All you need to do is snap these pads into your underwear and go about your day. When it comes time to change, just pop your reusable pads in the wash!
Period pants work just like regular pants, except they’re built to absorb your period. Period underwear is designed to have a comfortable cotton layer on top and an absorbent inner layer, all bound together with a leak and bacteria resistant casing. Period pants such as those by Modibodi can come in a range of sizes, styles and absorbency and can hold up to four tampons worth of period blood. Additionally, these pants can also take on discharge, bladder leaks and any clots without making you uncomfortable.
Period pants will have to be washed in a cold cycle after every use, but will last for up to two years.
Organic pads and tampons
Everybody is different, and while reusable products will ensure the least waste, organic pads and tampons are sometimes the best options. These pads and tampons are made from biodegradable materials with biodegradable or recyclable packaging so you can ensure your sanitary products will safely return to the earth. Look out for brands such as Natracare, Flo, Mondays and Totm.
For those who prefer to use organic tampons, reusable applicators can help make insertion an easy process every time. DAME’s reusable applicator is compatible with all tampons and contains Mediprene, an anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and non-porous material. To ensure your applicator stays clean, just rinse it in between each use.