These days, most people (we hope!) are making a conscious effort in going green in their daily lives. This means recycling and composting, using reusable bags when you go grocery shopping, kicking styrofoam to the curb (no littering!) and even opting for paper straws over plastic. So how can your period impact the environment for better or worse? Well, the average woman will go through thousands of pads, tampons and liners during the course of their adult lives—so the impact is huge. Over time, each pad or tampon that is disposed of can take a serious toll. So what can you do?
Let’s start with our options. Because both pads and tampons are meant to gather human waste, they can’t be recycled. Generally speaking, most women either discard their tampons in the trash or down the toilet. Neither do much good for the environment—in the first scenario they end up in a landfill and in the second they end up in a city’s sewers and waterways. According to Bustle, “The Ocean Conservancy collected 27,938 used tampons and applicators on beaches around the world in a single day in 2015″. That’s not exactly our idea of a beach day.
Unfortunately, there isn’t a perfect solution. Cardboard tampon applicators can be recycled, while most plastic ones cannot. The tampons themselves are usually biodegradable but can take years to break down. FabLittleBag, a brand out of the UK, has created tiny biodegradable sanitary bags that you can toss your used tampon or pad into. According to their site, the bags are “Made 35% from organic material and biodegradable, and since there’s no need to flush, the keep tampons out of the rivers, seas and sewers”. That’s a win in our book.
If you’re set on making moves to help our Earth during your monthly encounter with mother nature, there are a few steps you can take. For starters, you may have to ditch the common period products all together. Menstrual cups or reusable pads are an option, and since you don’t have to dispose of them, they are better for both the environment and your wallet. Leak-proof underwear, like Lunapads, are also an option if you usually opt against tampons. These options do, however, require big lifestyle changes. To combat this, a UK-based startup, Dame, has created a reusable tampon applicator and organic tampons. The reusable applicator dramatically cuts down the amount of plastic being tossed each year by women. Even the simplest of changes—going for a 100% cotton, biodegradable tampon—can make a difference! Several brands are on the market today.
Though there isn’t one easy solution to go green while on your period, making some changes like the ones above will definitely make a positive impact. Society is making huge moves by banning plastic bags, straws and certain kinds of containers, so pushing for eco-friendly alternatives to feminine care products is right on track.