The Environmental Impact of Your Period

The Environmental Impact of Your Period

The Environmental Impact of Your Period

Period care has transformed over the years, with bright white pads in sleek plastic wrappers flying off the shelves. Unfortunately, these developments in menstrual hygiene often come at a cost to the environment. With all of the added plastics and chemicals, it’s no wonder women and people who menstruate are looking for more sustainable period products. We shouldn’t have to wade through a sea of harmful options to find products that are kind to the Earth. Now is the time to take a deeper look at the environmental impact of your period. We’ll cover everything from the truth about plastics to what natural feminine products can do to minimize your cycle’s ecological footprint.

Crunching the numbers on period sustainability

Many people with periods know their menstrual products could be more sustainable, but what do the statistics reveal? It turns out that we aren’t treating the Earth, or our bodies, as well as we could. Here’s what we found when we crunched the numbers on period sustainability. • People with periods menstruate an average of five days per month for 40 years. That’s an average of 2,400 days of bleeding across your lifetime. • If you use four standard pads per day during your cycle, you’ll end up sending around 9,600 plastic pads and their packaging to the landfill during your menstrual years. • Most sanitary pads on the market are around 90 percent plastic. Between these plastics and added chemicals, our bodies and the Earth absorb countless unnatural elements that do more harm than good. • More than eight million tons of plastic waste winds up in the ocean each year. These products harm thousands of seabirds, mammals, turtles, and fish. These numbers may be alarming, but with this knowledge comes the power to make a difference. Let’s cover a few more common questions along with the best ways to break this cycle for good.

How do period products affect the environment?

Standard period products cause environmental harm from their production to their disposal. The plastic used in many pads and tampons is produced with a material called polyethylene, which takes a lot of energy to create. The emissions from this process take a toll before products even hit the shelves. While most pads are made with plastic, even cotton pads can cause harm if they aren’t organic. Non-organic cotton may grow with the help of pesticides and other chemicals that can enter the soil, harming the environment and living creatures as they move toward our rivers and oceans. Once we use unsustainable period products, they are difficult to dispose of properly. In the United States alone, around 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons are thrown away annually. The majority of these are not ethically or sustainably designed. It’s a cycle that severely impacts our environment and will continue to do so long after we are gone. Your menstrual product choices are a part of the mark you leave on the planet. One non-biodegradable pad can take as many as 800 years to degrade. So, unfortunately, once we put these products out into the ecosystem, they’re designed to stand the test of time.

Do menstrual products decompose?

The decomposition process for menstrual products depends on the materials they are made with. Today’s pads and tampons have plastic fibers, wings, back sheets, applicators, packaging, and more, each with the potential to litter landfills for centuries. And unfortunately, many of these plastic menstrual products may not ever fully decompose. A standard pad contains as much plastic as four plastic grocery bags, which are known to turn into microplastics rather than fully decomposing. Whereas plastic products can take up to 800 years to decompose, biodegradable or compostable options can take as few as 90 to 180 days to decompose if they are in composting conditions. This small switch can make an enormous impact, preventing sanitary products and microplastics from entering our soils and oceans.

Where do used sanitary pads go?

Many period products end up in the landfill or even polluting the ocean. While a common practice is to wrap and dispose of menstrual items in the waste bin, many people flush them down the toilet. Sewage waste can go on to pollute oceans and shorelines or even lead to blocked waterways, and these issues impact countries around the world significantly. The Marine Conservation Society shared that during a beach cleaning event in the UK, the group found four pads, panty liners, or backing strips for every 100 meters of beach that they cleaned. In other countries, there are even fewer options for throwing away disposable period products. Common practices in rural areas include burying or burning these items or tossing them into pit latrines.

Easy alternatives for a more eco-friendly period

Luckily, it’s easier than ever to make your period more sustainable. New options are coming onto the market, like biodegradable pads that swap plastic for natural materials with more ethical production processes. When you understand the processes, chemicals, and plastics that go into traditional period products, it’s easy to choose products that are kind to the Earth. Solutions made with natural materials are better for your skin too. It means no more irritation and discomfort and no more products that harm our planet. After all, your period is a symbol of life, so it’s only natural that it should support the life around you. Shop alternatives that focus on biodegradable, sustainable, and natural design, and you’re sure to give your cycle the upgrade that you and Mother Earth deserve.

Choosing sustainable period products

Choosing sustainable period products can improve your environmental impact by removing harmful plastics from the equation. These days, there are plenty of Earth-friendly solutions available, and some of the best organic pads are made with biodegradable materials. Check out White’s biodegradable day and night pads for sustainable period solutions you can choose with confidence. With materials that are kind to your skin and the planet, you’ll never have to worry about the environmental impact of your period.

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