The Problem of Period Plastic

Unfortunately, there is such a taboo surrounding periods that we don’t talk openly and honestly about the issues surrounding periods and period plastic.

In the UK a staggering 200,000 tonnes of sanitary products end up in landfill EVERY YEAR. Most conventional products contain plastic, 90% of a sanitary pad and 6% of a tampon is plastic and let’s not forget the packaging and plastic tampon applicators too. These products can take over 500 years to break down.

Did you know – around 2 billion menstrual items are flushed down Britain’s toilets every year? This causes sewer blockages and many of these products end up on our beaches and in our seas! Pads, tampons and applicators are the 5th most common item found on European beaches

Thinking about our health and the environment

As well as being bad for the environment, sanitary products often contain a cocktail of chemicals some of which are linked to breast cancer and infertility. A study of tampons in the US found a range of chemicals including methylene chloride which is commonly found in paint stripper! Manufacturers don’t have to list the ingredients on their products which means many product users aren’t aware of the harmful chemicals they are exposing themselves too.

The cheapest products are often the ones with the most potential to damage our health and the environment.

So what are the eco-friendly alternatives?

  • Menstrual Cups – these are soft, flexible cups made from of medical grade silicone or rubber. They are worn internally like tampons and should last 5-10 years.
  • Period pants – are underwear that you can wash and reuse again for 2-3 years.
  • Reusable pads – are used in the same way as the disposable option however, they can be washed and re-used again for years.
  • Organic pads and tampons – are single use products that are made from cotton rather than plastic. Look for products that are 100% organic cotton and avoid tampons made from rayon, a cotton and rayon mix and anything that is fragranced. Do you like to use a tampon with an applicator? There are a range of re-usable applicators available.

Changing to new products might seem scary but many brands have testimonials on their websites to help you chose the right product for you. You could always change to organic pads or tampons if you aren’t ready for re-usable products just yet!   

REMEMBER – whichever product you decide to use remember to change or wash it regularly to reduce the chances of toxic shock syndrome

If you would like more information on periods, period plastic, tackling period poverty and eco-friendly options visit the Women’s Environmental Network website –  https://www.wen.org.uk/our-work/environmenstrual/

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