Vaginas are the most absorbent parts of our bodies, so what we put into or around them matters! It is estimated that the average menstruating woman uses 12,000 tampons in her lifetime, many of which have been found to contain pesticides, bleach, glue and plastics. Not only is this potentially harmful to you, but it is also harmful to the environment, considering that sanitary products contribute 200,000 tonnes of non-degradable plastic waste to landfills every year.
Below, Nancy Saddington (co-founder of eco-sanitary wear brand, Mondays) explains seven reasons why we should switch to having plastic-free periods in 2020:
1. Save the planet
Plastic doesn’t biodegrade quickly, meaning the plastic in each period product used will be around for 450 years. To bring this to life, if Jane Austen had used a disposable pad, it would still be here today!
When you put this into context, it’s pretty shocking: Women use an estimated 11,000 disposable period products over the 450 periods they each have in their lifetime. And this is just one woman – so it’s unsurprising to hear that tampons, pads and panty liners amount to more than 200,000 tonnes of waste per year in the UK.
2. Think of the toxins
As a nation, we are becoming more conscious of the foods we consume, thinking about where it has come from and how it has got to our plate. Traditional period products are not just made of cotton and cellulose as many believe, but rather environmentally harmful polyethylene, polypropylene and superabsorbent polymers which cause damage to the planet for hundreds of years before breaking-down into microplastics that eventually enter our food chain. Using a plastic-free alternative helps in the fight to completely eliminate these toxins from our bodies.
3. Kinder to our skin
Comfort is probably the most desired feeling during your period. Plastic period pads can cause many women to suffer with discomfort and skin irritations and there is also widespread concern about the materials used in traditional tampons, and their manufacturing processes.
Plastic-free period products are generally made with organic cotton, a natural material that is grown without pesticides or insecticides and is free of any chemicals, dyes or fragrances. This means it’s much kinder to our skin and body than traditional mainstream products found on the supermarket shelves.
4. Do your bit!
“Doing our bit” for the environment is sometimes easier said than done. By making the switch to a plastic-free period life, you will be saying no to single-use plastic every month and that’s a great place to start!
5. Helping the next generation
Women today have the chance to help the next generation make the right choice. We should be encouraging and introducing this choice of plastic-free period products to young girls so they start as they mean to go on.
Introducing daughters, nieces, goddaughters and so on means you are helping them adopt plastic-free habits with a product that’s kinder to their skin – hopefully, they’ll become more conscious about other single-use plastic products they use too.
6. It’s easy…so why not?
Women have much more choice today in how and what they buy. We can easily go online and find products that are both better for us and the planet with just the click of a button.
The average woman will spend over 350 hours shopping for period products during her lifetime – in comparison, many of the eco-friendly alternatives listed below offer a subscription service, meaning they will be automatically delivered to your door (in plastic-free packaging) each month!
7. Last but not least, it’s also vegan!
Health-conscious Britons are moving towards veganism and adopting a plant-based diet in order to live a healthier life. Vegan-friendly options are appearing on everything from creams to clothes so it’s no surprise that menstrual products are following suit!
With all of this in mind, we have rounded up our favourite products that will benefit you and the environment:
BEYOU’s Menstrual Cups (£14.99) are reusable and can for last up to 10 years! Simply clean it after every period (using the BEYOU Menstrual Cup Foaming Cleanser, £9.99) and it’ll be ready for next month. The cups are made from 100 per cent soft medical grade silicone with no BPA, no latex and no dye, making it free from toxic chemicals often found in sanitary products.
BEYOU have also created Monthly Patches (£7.99 for pack of 5), which are a perfect alternative to popping pills for relief from painful cramps. The patches are created with eucalyptus oil and menthol, which contain natural vasodilator, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties, to provide pain relief for up to 12 hours!
Mondays is the first 100% plastic-free, organic cotton period subscription service offering women plastic-free menstrual pads, applicator tampons and panty liners.
While products are available to buy individually, their subscription box (£13.50 with free delivery) will save you both time and money, allowing you to choose 25 products, personalised to your flow, which will be automatically delivered to your door in 100% biodegradable packaging every month. Mondays is also part of the ‘One Percent for the Planet’ movement, meaning that 1% of all sales from day one is donated to environmental non-profit organisations.
Albany Mae’s tampons (£4.50 for 16) are made using 100% organic cotton, free from chlorine, rayon and fragrances, as well as being hypoallergenic and fully biodegradable. They also feature advanced leak protection and expand width-wise for comfort, making them ideal for those heavier days. Their minimalist packaging and compact design also make them perfect for on-the-go.
We especially love their subscription service (£4 per month), whereby your tampons are automatically sent to you each month – no more getting caught short when you forget to buy tampons!
Fempowered has partnered with WaterAid, to bring you sustainable, organic chemical-free period products that give back. For £10 a month, you can have a custom box filled with sanitary products delivered directly to your door. We love the aspect of choice with this one: each month you can choose between regular tampons, super tampons, applicator tampons, light and heavy pads and liners, all depending on your unique flow. Just add the items to your box and voila!
What’s more, Fempowered and WaterAid are on a mission to end period poverty: when you buy a box, all profits will be donated to WaterAid, meaning you’ll not only be helping yourself and the environment, you’ll also be helping around 72 million girls who have to go through their period without access cleans toilets or any sanitary protection whatsoever.
You can read more about WaterAid’s mission to end period poverty here.
Etica has launched its new range of period products, with three simple aims: to promote vaginal health, to reduce plastic pollution, and to end period poverty. Their range includes day pads, night pads and pantyliners (from £3.25 for 10), made from certified organic cotton, free from dioxides, allergens, chlorine, pesticides, perfumes and plastics – they are also 100% biodegradable and compostable. Etica will also donate a percentage of their profits towards helping girls and women around the globe to have periods with dignity.
They’ve also partnered with ActionAid UK and The Marine Conservation, to ensure their brand has a direct impact on the causes that they (and their consumers) are passionate about. When you buy from them, Etica will donate money to either charity depending on which you choose.
Dame has created the world’s first reusable tampon applicator: D (£24.99). The applicator is made of BPA free Mediprene® which is leak-free and built for life. It also features antibacterial Sanipolymers® which act as natural sterilisers, helping D to stay clean. The super-smooth design easily and securely glides Dame’s organic tampons (£8.50 for 34) into place. Dame also offers a subscription box service for their tampons – if you buy one of their D applicators, the first box will be free!
Struggle with skin irritation down there? Sanature’s sanitary products are made from 100% natural cotton that is proven to prevent intimate skin irritation, making them perfect for sensitive skin. The cotton is super absorbent, ensuring maximum security, as well as being breathable and hypoallergenic, providing ultimate comfort. The products also include a HyDri filter, meaning you stay clean and dry. The range includes panty liners, pads, tampons and incontinence pads, all available in different sizes and absorbencies to suit you.
Luna Love Period Briefs
Launching on December 16, the NEW Love Luna range is a collection of period briefs and underwear designed to give leak free reassurance during the time of the month. Love Luna Period Briefs are washable and reusable, designed to last for 50+ washes, reducing the huge amount of landfill waste caused by disposable period protection.
Every pair of Love Luna Period Briefs features four layers of protection, which can absorb 15ml of liquid, equivalent to 2-3 regular tampons. Choose from Bikini Briefs, Midi Briefs or Full Briefs (£10 each).