When deciding what products to use for menstrual periods most people will pick up what’s easily found in stores. These are usually single use tampons or sanitary pads.This results in an estimated 250 to 300 pounds of tampons and pads tossed in the trash over the average American woman's lifetime.
Single Use Menstrual Products and PlasticConventional menstrual pads contain a significant amount of plastic. One estimate is that these disposable sanitary pads contain up to 90% plastic. Tampons, excluding the applicator, may contain up to 6% plastic. Scientists say that a regular nonorganic menstrual pad can take 500 to 800 years to break down. They're full of plastic, so they aren’t completely biodegradable. When they do break down, they eventually become microplastics, or pieces of plastic less than 5 millimeters in size. If these items don’t make their way to landfills, they can end up in oceans or washed up on beaches.
Using menstrual cups can also lower your water use. In two studies, women said that fewer leaks meant not needing to wash stained clothes as often. Also, you use less water cleaning menstrual cups compared with reusable pads and cloths.
Like a menstrual cup, a menstrual disc is inserted into your vagina where it collects your menstrual fluids. But a menstrual disc sits at the base of your cervix while a menstrual cup uses suction to stay in your vaginal canal.
Many menstrual discs are disposable. But there are some reusable options available.
This type of underwear has many layers in its lining. The layers are usually made from microfiber polyester that traps your menstrual blood. Period underwear can hold as much as one or two tampons. Some companies have even produced period swimwear, leotards, and athletic shorts. Depending on the brand, a pair of period underwear can cost between Inr 299/- and Inr 799/-. If properly taken care of, they should last for about 2 years.
Reusable Menstrual Pads
Cost of Eco-Friendly Options
Eco-friendly menstrual products may seem expensive at first. But investing in reusable products ends up being cheaper than repeatedly buying boxes of tampons or menstrual pads. One study found that participants used about 13 tampons per cycle, or 169 a year. The estimated cost of tampons for a year was similar to the retail price of one menstrual cup, which can be used for 10 years.
Greener Options for Disposable Menstrual ProductsIf you’re not ready for reusable menstrual products, here are some other ways to make your period more environmentally-friendly:
- When buying disposable pads, look for non-chlorine bleached pads and tampons that are made with organic cotton and without harmful chemicals.
- Try reusable tampon applicators. Put the cotton tampon in the applicator and use it to insert the tampon, just like with a disposable applicator. Then rinse, dry, and reuse.