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The Environmental Impact of Menstrual Pads and Tampons

By Fredrica Syren:

We live in a society of convenience. Of course, modern day menstrual pads and tampons definitely have made feminine hygiene easier and more convenient. Unfortunately, just as most convenient things, they have a devastating effect on the environment as well as women’s health.

tamponsLet’s start with environmental concerns. An average woman will use around 16,000 or more tampons or pads in her lifetime. That’s 7 billion tampons and pads landing in landfills each year. Most of them contain chemicals, toxins, additives and synthetic materials such as plastic. The plastics, first of all, take a very long time to breakdown. Second, they also end up leaking into nature, and polluting our rivers, lakes, streams and world.

Let’s move on to the health effects on a woman’s body. The vaginal area is an area filled with small blood vessels, and the skin down there is very thin and delicate, thus making it easy for chemicals and plastic to be absorbed into the body. All these chemicals are known carcinogens.

When I learned all this, I gave up on conventional tampons and pads right there and then. So, what are the options for any woman wanting to go green and toxic free?

If you are looking for the convenience of traditional tampons and pads, the good news is that there are natural and organic options for tampons and pads.

The really green option for a natural menstrual flow is using a menstrual cup. (We’ve written about it before in this article.) menstural cups Basically it’s a reusable, bell-shaped menstrual cup that is worn internally and sits low in the vaginal canal, collecting rather than absorbing your menstrual flow. It comes in different sizes to be comfortable and fit well. The best part is that it’s free of latex, plastic, PVC, acrylic, acrylate, BPA, phthalate, elastomer, polyethylene, colors and dyes. It’s reusable, so there’s no waste or chemicals.

If a menstrual cup is too intimidating, reusable cloth pads might be a better option, which is what I like most. Cloth pads usually are made with cotton, hemp, wool, bamboo, microfiber or the like, and can be easily found organic. They usually come with wings to make them stay in place, and in many different sizes and thicknesses. I use a normal size, a nighttime one and panty liners for my lighter period. It’s easy to care for cloth pads by washing them in warm water in the laundry machine. I use soap nuts, but other natural laundry soaps can be used, too. I like to line dry mine in the sun if I can, but they can be dried in a dryer. So, yes, the down side of cloth pads is that you have to wash them and that you might end up with stains. For me, the option is an easy one: I really do not find them to be that much bother compared to the rewards of a healthy body and planet. Besides saving the planet and your body, you will also save money with a reusable menstrual cup or cloth pads.

About Green Mom

Fredrica Syren, the author and founder of Green-Mom.com, was born in Sweden. Her mother was a classically trained chef who introduced her to many eclectic flavors and skills at a young age. Her mom’s passion for the outdoors and gardening planted the seed for her own love of nature and healthy eating. She received a degree in journalism and has worked as a print, Internet and broadcasting journalist for many years with big businesses within Europe and the United States. After her mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer and she with pre-cancer, Fredrica changed her career to become a full time yoga teacher and activist. A longtime world traveler, foodie and career woman, she was exposed to many facets of life, but nothing inspired her more than becoming a mom. After her first-born, Fredrica began a food blog focusing on local, seasonal, organic & vegetarian dishes. Years of food blogging developed into the cookbook Yummy in My Tummy, Healthy Cooking for the Whole Family. Upon the arrival of her second child, Fredrica founded Green-Mom.com. Her vision was to establish a site providing insight about gardening, home and personal care, baby & child, and of course food & nutrition. Green-Mom.com hosts many talented writers shedding light on ways to incorporate eco-friendly and nutritious practices for busy families. She is an advocate for organic, local and sustainable businesses. Fredrica hopes to inspire social change through her lifestyle, passion and business. Fredrica lives with her husband James Harker-Syren and their three children in San Diego, CA.

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