By Jackie Bolen:
Just because we flush it or toss it into the trash doesn’t mean that it’s gone! Pads and tampons do certainly have an environmental impact. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if most people had a reusable period product in their bathroom cupboard?
The average female uses more than 11,000+ tampons during a lifetime; and if using pads, the number is similar. Although tampons (particularly those without an applicator) or the ones made of cardboard are notthatbad, there is still a lot of waste going to the landfill. Disposable pads are made in large part from non-biodegradable plastic.
There is a better way! Check out our guide for choosing greener period products.
#1: Menstrual Cup
The first green menstrual product you’ll probably want to check out are menstrual cups. Designed to replace tampons, they’re usually made from medical grade silicone. Although some companies say to replace them every year or two, most people get 5-10 years out of them (the DivaCup). Over a lifetime, that equals 4-8 cups vs. thousands of tampons. It really does make a big difference for Earth!
#2: Plastic Free Pads and Tampons
Next on our list of green menstrual products are plastic free pads and tampons. If you’re currently using disposables, it’s easy to make the switch.
The plastic free options usuallyare organic as well, and they have a number of advantages over conventional pads and tampons:
- They don’t contain toxic chemicals.
- They are fully biodegradable in a few years instead of a few hundred.
- There are some organic tampon subscriptions for the ultimate in convenience (Cora tampons, for example).
Although organic pads and tampons are a bit more expensive, many people find that they’re worth it for the advantages listed above.
#3: Cloth Pads
Reusable sanitary pads are very similar to disposables, except that they’re made with cloth, bamboo, charcoal and other natural materials. As with menstrual cups, they can last for 5-10 years, and a single pad potentiallycan replace thousands of disposables.
The major negative is that you have to wash them. However, if you don’t care about staining, just throw them in with your regular laundry: it really is that easy. If you do care about staining, soak them in cold water after use.
Ready to Make the Switch?
Beyond being better for the environment, green period products are better for your health. And, in the case of menstrual cups and reusable pads, they will save you a ton of money.
Welcome to the club! You’ll be joining a group of enlightened people who are serious about caring for our environment by reducing the amount of waste they send to the landfill.
Jackie Bolen is a tree-hugging friend of the Earth who usually can be found on top of a mountain or drinking coffee around Vancouver. Her hope is that a reusable period product will one day be found in the hands of every single menstruating person in the world.
You can find her at