One thing my family as a whole have spoken about for 2019 is being more environmentally friendly. We already do the basics but we want to cut down on our waste in general, specifically food waste and we also want to cut down on the plastic we are buying.
But how environmentally friendly is your period?
Disclaimer here: I am not a medical professional or environmental scientist, this my own research. Also do not take my opinion as gospel, you do you.
So on average women will use over 240 tampons alone a year, that's without considering pads. Over a lifetime that's roughly 16,800 tampons. For one person. That's a lot of waste.
Tampons make a huge percentage of the waste from menstruation. They are not recyclable because of what they've been used for. Kinda get that. Despite being told we should bin them, most of us flush them. When flushing them they will end up in sewer system and in waterways. But putting them in the bin isn't much better, they will more than likely go to landfills.
Now, we've probably all seen or heard about organic tampons. The ones the Kardashians rave about. I honestly have no idea if they're 'better' than regular tampons but despite being compostable and biodegradable they're very slow to break down. Meaning they're not great environmentally.
The cardboard applicators which are on some tampons are good, they are completely recyclable and are usually recycled correctly. The plastic applicators are not as promising. They will take centuries to biodegrade.
If you are gonna use tampons, cardboard applicators are the way forward.
Similarly to tampons, sanitary towels are not able to be recycled due to their use. The plastic liners on pads aren't biodegradable, and it is suggested that the environmental impact of 1 pad is the same as 4 plastic carrier bags. Again, organic pads that are pure cotton, are better but not great, they are still waste that will end up in a landfill.
So what can we do?
Menstrual cups are the way forward. Now, this is where I said in my disclaimer - you do you. But they are environmentally friendly. Cups are made of silicone and are reusable. They have a LONG lifespan of anywhere between 5 - 8 years. This long lifespan is automatically environmentally beneficial as it is cutting waste. Silicone is pretty safe too, it is made of silica which is a type of sand. As it degrades it eventually go back to its original state, which is not hazardous to the environment. They are fab.
If that doesn't sway you, they are also majorly cost-effective in comparison. I have been using a menstrual cup for about 6 months now and I would not go back. Alongside the environmental bonuses, I am so happy that I never have to experience that 'omg I've run out of tampons' moment again!