It turns out, some of us do actually give a shit about the planet. Despite being a long — and overdue — process, people are becoming much more aware of our impact on the environment. Since England’s plastic bag charge, consumption has reportedly dropped by 85%. There’s talk over the cut down of plastic straws (which has since opened up a separate conversation about accessibility), cutlery and other plastic items. Microbeads are said to be on the way out of UK products. The future looks bright, yeah?
There are still some overlooked areas though. Of course, we can always do better, but this doesn’t have to be a challenge either. Being a little greener is so doable and yet many of us overlook an easy opportunity to cut down on some waste.
Today, I’m talking about periods. For many ladies, this is a monthly event. That’s an opportunity every four weeks to do a bit more for the environment.
Period products generate 200,000 tonnes of waste a year. And that waste is pretty hard to shift, with tampons taking six months, and pads taking centuries, to decompose. This has led to the birth of monstrosities like ‘fatberg’, a huge sewer blockage beneath London, consisting of cooking fat, wet wipes, sanitary products, and other luscious treats.
So, what can be done? Well, there’s plenty of sustainable alternatives to regular pads and tampons.
1. Period pants
Instead of using pad after pad after pad, get yourself a pair of period pants. There are various brands out there, such as Thinx, which offer normal-looking underwear, with an absorbent layer to clear things up down there. Give them a wash and use them again, rather than having to buy another box of pads because, after all, that shit’s expensive. We’ll save the tampon tax rants for another article though.
2. Cotton pads
Similar to period pants, these are a reusable alternative to regular pads, which cuts down on plastic. A popular brand is GladRags, which can be found in the UK through Amazon. Or have a look at Freda, who have a wide selection and even customisable bundles.
3. Biodegradable tampons
So, you’re not a pad kind of girl? That’s okay – we’ve got tampons covered too. You can now buy biodegradable tampons, which could potentially dramatically reduce waste in the UK, if they become more popular. Take a look at TOTM, an ethical feminine hygiene brand. They even deliver the product to your door in environmentally friendly sugar cane packaging, and you can adjust your product’s frequency to fit your cycle.
4. Reusable tampon applicators
For some people, a tampon and an applicator are the essential power duo, and one cannot be successful without the other. But believe it or not, there are around nine plastic tampon applicators for every 1km of beach in the UK. So, either ditch the applicator, or if you need a little help down there, get yourself a reusable one. Dame were the first brand to create one and, well, they actually look pretty neat.
5. Menstrual cups
And finally, my personal favourite: the menstrual cup.
Now, don’t get me wrong, these can take a little getting used to. But since my purchase, periods have been a lot less hassle. These products sit in your vagina, like a tampon, but rather than absorbing your blood, it’s collected in a cup. You just have to wash it out, and it’s good to go again. This means they’re also more financially sustainable, as it will last you years. Diva Cup and Mooncup are the leading brands – they’re pretty similar, but see which one takes your fancy yourself.
I know how easy it is to rush frantically into the supermarket – since you weren’t expecting your period for another week yet – and find yourself grabbing whatever you can, without much thought beyond the packaging. But once you make adjustments to your period habits, you won’t look back.