Every month, women have to do the bulk shopping of toiletries that can last the whole menstrual cycle. But the confusing question always remains, how bad are these menstrual cycle toiletries for the environment? Well, some say they are made of cotton, therefore, biodegradable — But, how about the cumulative effects?
From puberty, women will use disposable pads for their entire lifetime. Interestingly, they are only used once and disposed of. Most people never have to wonder where it will end up once it has lost its usefulness.
Considering the number of pads and tampons used in a lifetime, doesn’t it amount to a lot? Do they end up at the right place or in landfills or do they end up disrupting environmental channels and pathways? While still pondering about all this, here are some of the noted concerns why disposable pads can be harmful to the environment.
- As much as pads and tampons are mostly made from cotton, they also have plastic components and of course, the problem of plastic pollution is widely known. For instance, tampons and pads are wrapped in plastic packaging, pads use waterproof plastic backing.
- The non-organic pads and tampons may contain toxin dioxins, which end up in soils and water supplies eventually hurting the ecosystem. Pads also contain fragrance and other added ingredients used to prevent odours that can be harmful to the environment.
- Pesticides are heavily used in cotton production since it is not a food product and, therefore, some of it ends up in groundwater supplies either present as a residue in the pads/tampons or due to pesticide pollution
If those facts are not enough, we’ll give you the more reasons to opt out from the single-use period products, and move on to the greener, reusable ones…
1. Saves Money
Everybody prefers the cheaper option, who doesn’t? Although investing in a quality reusable menstrual product costs more money at the initial purchase, it saves you more over a long period as you don’t have to buy monthly disposables.
Purchasing tampons and pads frequently cost much more because of the regular consumption, therefore, the products do not last very long unlike buying a pack of reusable pads that can last you months or years, depending on usage and method of cleaning, which in the long run will cost you less money.
2. Safer For the Body
Disposables sanitary products cause rashes and irritations. Cloth pads and period panties are made from cotton material that is soft and breathable and allows air flow to the sensitive parts. It also keeps these areas moisturised, unlike regular tampons and pads that absorb all moisture from the vagina living it dry and, therefore, susceptible to vaginal infections.
Menstrual cups do not absorb the natural secretions of the vagina so you never have the same drying effect. Tampons dry out the vagina that changes the pH balance which in turn causes thrush. Cloth pads help out in combatting thrush as it leaves the area dry and cool.
3. Ingredients of Disposable Pads are Harmful
The materials used in the manufacture of disposable pads and tampons include plastics and synthetic fibre which are harmful to the vagina. Paper sanitary products cause vaginal irritation due to the constant friction with the body when moving about. Some women are also sensitive to the bleaching agents used in the production of pads and tampons.
Others are also sensitive to the fragrance chemicals used to hide the odor that comes along with periods, although these ingredients seem functional and they get the job done, these chemicals and other types of ingredients can, in the long run, cause serious health issues like various types of cancer, infertility, hormone disruptions, and Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS).
4. Environmentally Friendly
Picture this, count the years since you started your periods in your early teens until the present age you are in right now. Now, calculate the number of disposable pads you have used in your lifetime. It's estimated that the average woman throws away 250 to 300 pounds of "pads, plugs, and applicators" in their life.
The process of manufacture pollutes the air and waterways and also animal habitats. The components of disposables include plastics, synthetic fibres and bleach that if finds a way into the ecosystem, it becomes detrimental. The amount of waste generated is also alarming and it ends up in landfills.
Making the monthly trip to the convenient store can sometimes be a nightmare, worst of all running out of supplies at the most inconvenient place can be such a setback. Having a ready cloth pad or undies in your bag seems better than having to run into strangers at the counter every time to purchase your monthly supplies.
Reusable menstrual products are also easy and very convenient to use, it is just as easy as a change of panties as you do every morning. If you are travelling or are on the move, you can simply wrap the used cloth pad or period panties in a bag to take home for cleaning. Cleaning of reusable cloth pads and undies is also as easy as throwing them into the laundry machine.