Let's talk Sustainable Period Products
You probably have a few reservations, right? We’ve done a little background research, so let’s look at some facts.
We’re pretty used to our traditional disposable (and non-biodegradable) sanitary products. Can we change our habits and think about sustainable period products? Well, if ever there was a reason to switch up ..
Globally, every single one of us uses many single use tampons and pads for about a week, every single month for about 35 years. That's a staggering amount of waste.
So, for the environment, the growing popularity of sustainable period products is a very, very good thing! On top of this, there are many great reasons why switching to sustainable products is a good idea. Read on for more.
If you want a little fun and colour in your sustainable period pads, Battle Green do these zingy candy colour reusable pads.
The perfect introduction to zero waste periods. A soft bamboo terry top goes against your skin, and the coloured side against your underwear, snapping closed with the adjustable poppers. Has a PUL backing to ensure no leaks, and a super absorbent microfibre core.
5 Types of sustainable period products ranked!
- Menstrual cups: a small rubber or silicone cup designed to insert comfortably and ‘catch’ the flow. Can be kept in for up to 12 hours, removed, cleaned and reused.
7/10 - Been around for years, and can't fault it for sustainability. Insertion is a bit of a faff for beginners!
- Reusable tampon applicator: one usually plastic applicator you use and clean over and over.
4/10 - Tampons can still contain plastics, and if it's a non-applicator tampon, is a plastic applicator really necessary?
- Period pants: just pants! They use a moisture-wicking fabric made up of thousands of small filaments which trap flow to keep it from leaking onto your clothes. Increasing choice of design and look, growing in popularity, but not for everyone.
7/10 - We like them, but somehow we prefer a removable pad rather than a whole piece of underwear?
- Organic pads/tampons: made with 100% natural products like hemp, wood pulp, bamboo pulp, or cotton, unlike regular pads/tampons that contain plastic, polymers, and chemical additives.
6/10 - They are biodegradable and chemical free, but wasteful in comparison to other sustainable period products on the market
- Reusable period pads: made from layers of organic and sustainable materials like organic cotton or bamboo. They are super-absorbent and gentle on your skin. They are fully washable, and reusable - so highly sustainable.
9/10 - Reusable pads are so trending right now. They work, wash well, and have the comforting ‘familiarity’ of traditional pads. For us, they're an easy switch.
These brilliant starter kits from Battle Green will gently ease you into reusable period products. Battle Green is passionate about the environment. They specialise in zero waste, plastic free natural health and beauty products. The reusable pads starter kits are their latest addition that our customers are loving!
The pads in small, regular and large, are made with a soft, fluffy white bamboo terry topper, with a black leakproof PUL fabric backing, and a super absorbent microfibre core. The packs come with instructions for reusable pad newbies, and biodegradable, plastic-free packaging and a great price!
Environmental damage from non sustainable period products
Here’s some fast facts (and big numbers!).
- An estimated 1.5 -2 billion single-use period products are flushed down toilets each year. That's 4.6 million every single day!
Harmful to marine life, disposable products flushed down the toilet also contribute to another problem – fatbergs. Fatbergs are huge masses of period products, wet wipes, nappies, fats and oils. Every year the UK spends about £100m clearing an estimated 300,000 fatbergs.
- 10% of sewage related debris on beaches is period pads, liners/backing strips, tampons, and applicators.
- Many period products can contain up to 90% fossil-fuel based plastic. Most tampons contain plastic too (not just the applicator but the absorbent part too).
Non-organic disposable period products can contain toxic chemicals like BPA, dioxins, pesticides, bleach and fragrances. Manufacturers don’t legally have to state what is in their products.
7 Top Benefits of Sustainable Period Products
In the UK, we spend an average of £13 a month on sanitary products. That’s about £5460 over an average 35 years of having periods. Let’s face it, it’s money down the toilet!
Reusable period pads save money, and reduce the insane waste.
Having periods for an average of 35 years, 2 - 7 days a week & 24 hours a day, we’re wearing sanitary products for a whopping 40,000 hours of our lives! Comfort, the fit, the material, and how well they perform are pretty important!
Reusable pads for example, are made from natural, soft materials, like cotton fleece. They are absorbent, come in different sizes and are comfortable. Disposable pads often use synthetic materials. They can cause irritation, and contain harmful chemicals.
Researchers found some disposable pads to contain a pretty scary list of chemicals. Including styrene, acetone and chloroform. Yikes! Reusable pads made from natural materials are 100% chemical free, especially if the fabric is certified organic.
Ever been caught short? The shops are closed and the vending machine doesn't sell pads or tampons? You’re literally begging a friend or a stranger for a tampon? Been there, done that!
Reusable pads travel with you. No plastic wrapping, no need to find a suitable bin for the waste. Wrap them up, take them home, wash, re-use.
Cleanliness and hygiene are probably what’s on our minds when we think about changing to sustainable period products. We’re almost trained to think blood from periods is dirty or nasty and must be disposed of regularly.
It’s a longstanding myth, and studies have shown that period blood is not more ‘dirty’ than any other blood. In fact, period blood comes from the womb - a place so clean and hygienic that it grows small humans!
Reusable pads are at least as clean as disposable pads and without any of the chemical nasties. Gynaecologists have pointed out that despite what we think, conventional disposable pads are not sterile. As long as reusable pads are washed and dried properly, they are as sterile as a new disposable pad.
Reusable period pads are safe because they’re made from natural and often organic materials.
Disposable pads can contain many harmful and potentially irritant chemicals linked to dermatitis, dryness and in some cases, worsening cramps and pain! When you see marketing terms like ‘scented’, ‘absorbent technology’, and ‘anti odour system’ - that'll be the scary chemicals!
Reusable pads stick to these ridiculous marketing terms. They’re plain, simple, natural and they work!
Disposable pads have a large carbon footprint and are made with non-recyclable plastics and synthetic components. As are the packaging they come in.
Switching to reusable pads will reduce our environmental impact massively. Not only the pads, but the packaging from eco-friendly manufacturers is biodegradable or recyclable. The more of us who switch, the more impact it has.
How sustainable period products can tackle period poverty
It's not just women in developing countries who have real problems affording sanitary care, 1 in 10 women in the UK and North America have not been able to afford sanitary products at some point in their lives.
- During lockdown 30% of girls in the UK aged 14-21 years struggled to afford period products. With reusables, they are always available.
- In the UK, we spend an average of £13 a month on sanitary products. That’s about £5460 based on an average 35 years of having periods!
Reusable pads will last for around 4 years if cared for well. This could be life changing for women in the poorest countries, and also for women all over the world. Roughly, if we’re cutting our expenditure by 4, that’s a huge amount of money saved over the lifetime of having periods.
Regular disposable sanitary manufacturers rely on the fact we just throw away disposable products. Because we will ALWAYS have to restock - every month. As a business, it's very profitable, completely unnecessary and ..environmentally devastating.
Making the switch to sustainable period products
After years of using disposables, it takes a leap of faith to change the habit. Especially when it comes to something as personal as period care and health.
But you know, no-one uses plastic bags now - even the idea of it seems crazy! And maybe in a few years time, the idea that we used and dumped billions of plastic and synthetic pads and tampons will seem just as insane!
Sustainable period products - pants, cups or reusable pads - are becoming really well made, marketable and attractive to customers who are more concerned about their environmental impact. So, maybe this is the moment to try out something new if you aren't already a devotee!
We rate all sustainable products, but we love the reusable pads. Find the starter kits here, and see if you love them too!
Love yourself, and keep on loving your planet!