Half of the world's population menstruate and we cant sush about it anymore is the first thing that comes to my mind about periods. The next thing that pops up in my mind is what product should I use. To be completely honest for the 1st decade of my menstruating years I did not know about any other choice than what was originally introduced to me. Pad.
The history of sanitary pads dates to the first world war, the design was inspired by the bandaging made to dress wounded soldiers. By the second world war, more women were part of the workforce and to tend to their need the current pad was created. An average menstruating human will use somewhere between 5 and 15 thousand tampons and pads in their lifetime.
Though it looks like a well crafted cotton cloud, pure and white, it is one of the most unsustainable products. The conventional sanitary pad is made of 90% plastic. And it takes around 600 - 800 years to completely breakdown into the soil, leaving many micro-plastics that will end up in the ocean and soil. A cotton tampon will biodegrade in 6 months however most tampons do come with plastic coating or applicators.
The worst effect of single use feminine hygiene products is that sometimes it may also contain endocrine gland disrupting chemicals include phthalates, parabens, and bisphenols. The fragrance and dyes used in these products can disturb the PH balance of your vagina. All the developments we have made in textile, chemical and medical industries however did not influence menutral products. But the last few years, there is a tectonic shift in women’s thinking about what they put in their body’s and its effect on the environment.
We understand being on your period is not fun. Between cramps, naussea and pink tax the last thing you want is to now figure out a new set of product that would work for you, your wallet, and the environment. We by no means intend to guilt or shame someone who is perfectly happy with their choice, and is going to continue the use of whatever feminine hygiene product they are comfortable with. You do you.
The best way to dispose single use pads or tampons are segregating the plastioc wrapper and the actual product. Dispose the pad or tampon after wrapping it in waste paper in the trash. Flushing them down the toilet will clog the sewage, will make waste water treatment challenging and even end up in the ocean.
However, if you are someone interested in knowing some of the more eco-freindly choices, we are listing them below.
Re-usable cotton pads: These pads are made of organic cotton and can be used around 250 times. The care instructions are to simply wash them with soap water and drying in the sun would help with sterilizing. However, if you are someone who is bothered by the stain, you might wanna give it some thought.
Menstrual Cups: Menstrual cups are the only product in the market that don't absorb blood. Instead, it collects and is to be disposed of, washed, and re-inserted. The care instructions are to use soap and boiling water. One wouldn’t need more than 2 at any point and it can last up to 10 years. This takes the cake for budget and sustainability. However, disposing of medical-grade silicone is very challenging, the choices are grinding it up or burning it.
Period underwear: This can last up to 2 years and is the preferred product by athletes and dancers due to its seamless nature. Period underwear is made of layers of polyester to absorb the blood. However, it has not been considered a choice for long hours as it has to be of a tight fit to ensure it stays leakproof.
Transition to anew product could be challenging and there are other options available in the marlet which are comparatively better than the conventional product. Pads and tampons that are made of 100% organic cotton and is not treated with bleach, dyes or fragrance. Companies aware of the shift in consumer consciousness are providing options which has plastic free packaging or recyclable plastic packaging. The cardboard applicator tampons are one of the most eco-friendly choices of you would like to continue with traditional choices. Eco-friendly menstrual products may seem expensive, but when you calculate the long-term cost of buying single-use products you would find it the economical and environmentally right choice.
We have come a long way from using old rags and moss, and every now and then Buzzfeed might come up with over the top suggestions like sea sponges. The period challenge is not just about sustainability, but also issues period poverty and the taboo around it. We believe every menustrating person right to have choices that are good for your body and the environment, especially if you are trying to achieve zero waste living and eliminate harsh chemicals from your lifestyle.