The average women has a period over the duration of 40 years, a total of 2400 days, and for the equivalent of 6 and a half years.
A study completed by Menstrual Cup brand Intimina, found that women in the UK use on average 11,000 disposable pads, tampons and liners in their lifetime. This results in 200,000 tonne of waste per year, which can take centuries to biodegrade.
How much do you know about the period products that you are using? Do you know the ingredients to something you put near such a delicate, permeable area, where those ingredients enter your blood stream? Do you know the impact of the throwaway items? I've put together some facts so you can have a better understanding.
The products which we have become accustomed too are made with crude oil plastic. Tampons are made from chlorine bleached wood pulp, synthetic fibres and small amounts of heavily sprayed GMO cotton. Cotton is know as the worlds dirtiest crop. Approximately 84million pounds of pesticides and herbicides are sprayed on 14.4million acres of conventional cotton grown each year in the US. These chemicals are some of the most toxic used in agriculture. The Environmental Protection Agency has declared seven of the top 15 to be possible human carcinogens.
All of this pollution is so bad for our earth, without even thinking about the vast amount of oil, water, trees, soil and gasoline that are depleted in the manufacturing process.
We use tampons wrapped in plastic, encased in plastic applicators, with plastic strings. There is even a thin layer of plastic in the tampon to help hold the tightly packed cotton together. The plastic applicators are classed as recyclable but generally aren't accepted due to sanitary reasons.
Pads incorporate even more plastic - its estimated around 90%. They have a layer of thin, flexible, leak proof polypropylene or polythene, and plastic wings.
1 pack of sanitary pads is equivalent to 4 plastic bags.
They also contain something called SAPS, Super Absorbent powders, SAPS are made from crude oil. Now think about those pads close to your skin, skin is the thinnest organ in your body and its highly permeable - especially around your vagina.
According to a Scientific report on feminine hygiene products by Women's Voices for the Earth, test results show dioxins, furans and pesticide residues in tampons and pads, which have been linked to cancer, and reproductive harm.
In testing the Always brand of menstrual pads and panty liners, they were found to contain several chemicals including Styrene, Chloroethane, Chloroform, Glyphosate, ALL carcinogens. As well as Acetone, an irritant, and Chloromethane, a reproductive toxicant.
THE IMPACT TO THE PLANET
1.5 -2 billion menstrual items are flushed down the toilet every year. These can end up in our seas, including tampons, which can escape the system.
4.8 pieces are found per 100 meters of beach cleans - That's 200kg of menstrual products.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
The best switch for the planet is to use reusable pads, period pants or a menstrual cup.
Our &Sisters period cup has a lifespan of 10 years - That's 2000 menstrual products that you won't need to buy or waste.
If that isn't for you, then switch to Organic cotton options, with no plastics or nasty chemicals. Better for the planet and better for your body.
Here are some plastic-free, organic options currently in stock at ethicaleve.com: