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Tampons & Period Pads: How To Make Your Period Eco-Friendly
Are period pads and tampons eco-friendly?
Tampons and menstrual pads are the most commonly used period products, with a huge number of individuals relying on these products every month. But pads and tampons, they aren't always the most environmentally friendly option.
In this article, we'll discuss what the advantages and disadvantages of menstrual pads and tampons are, and how to make using them more sustainable.
Tampons are a small period product that come with or without an applicator. They’re made from an absorbent material, that works by being inserted and absorbing period blood.
They’re usually made with cotton and come both with and without an applicator, depending on personal preference. That applicator is usually made with plastic or cardboard. To remove the tampon, you simply pull on the string attached to the bottom, pull it out and throw it away into the bin.
Menstrual pads are a piece of absorbent material with one sticky side that is stuck to the bottom of underwear. The pad absorbs the period blood as it leaves your body. Pads are usually made with cotton and come in different sizes to be worn when periods are heavier, lighter and overnight.
The Pros and Cons of Pads and Tampons
Pros of Tampons
- Different sizes & styles: They can be worn with any type of underwear or clothing and are suitable for different types of flow.
- Swimming: You can go swimming and take part in all sport activities with tampons as they fit inside your body rather than outside.
- Invisible: Tampons can’t be seen from the outside so are more discrete. They are comfortable if inserted correctly so make life more comfortable when you’re bleeding too.
Cons of Tampons
- More difficult to use: At first tampons are more difficult to use as they require insertion which is more difficult to be taught. This is particularly the case with non-applicator tampons.
- Disposable: Tampons are single-use only and must be changed every 4-6 hours, creating a lot of waste. This is particularly the case with tampons with applicators.
- Risk of toxic shock syndrome: Tampons can cause toxic shock syndrome (TSS) if they are worn for too long and incorrectly. TSS a dangerous condition caused by an infection.
Pros of Menstrual Pads
- Easy to use: Menstrual pads are very easy to use and to change, making them a great option for first time bleeders.
- Good for all flows: They are available in lots of different sizes and flows eg light, heavy, night time. Pads are particularly good for heavy periods.
- Low risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome: There's almost no chance of get the life-threatening condition of TSS when using pads instead of tampons or menstrual cups.
Cons of Menstrual Pads
- Uncomfortable: You can feel pads when you are wearing them, and they can move around when you are wearing them causing stains on clothes.
- Cannot be used swimming: Menstrual pads cannot be used when swimming and may be uncomfortable for other sports that involve sweating.
- Waste: Period pads are single-use and create lots of waste which both the pad and the packaging they come in.
The Environmental Impacts of Pads and Tampons
Like everything, tampons and pads have an environmental impact.
Waste impact: Pads and tampons are a major contributor to landfill waste. They are made primarily from plastic taking up to 500-800 years to decompose. It’s not only the pads and tampons themselves but the packaging that builds up waste.
Materials impact: Pads and tampons are most commonly made with cotton, a raw material that is water intensive. Each bud requires 6 pints of water to grow.
Chemical impact: Most pads and tampons are non-organic which means pesticides and insecticides are used in the growing process. These chemicals cause disruptions to the ecosystem as they are toxic to more than just the target insects and weeds.
Pollution: The sticky adhesive on pads is made with polyethylene plastic, and tampons contain chlorine and rayon which are released into the groundwater in landfills. Both are environmental pollutants.
So how can you reduce the impact when you’re on your period?
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Alternatives To Traditional Menstrual Products That Are Better For The Environment
You don’t have to completely switch your period product preference when trying to reduce your environmental impact. Here are some things to consider when choosing more eco period products.
Organic: Organic tampons and pads are made from cotton that is grown without pesticides and insecticides so are better for the environment where the cotton is grown. Organic alternatives are also free from fragrances and chlorine bleaching so better for your personal health too.
Packaging: Organic tampons and pads often come with biodegradable packaging, like cardboard or plant-based compostable materials.
Bamboo: Some pads and tampons are made from bamboo. Not only can bamboo absorb up to 40% blood but it is an incredibly fast growing plant that requires much less water than cotton.
Eco-friendly period products: There are lots of other eco period products options like menstrual cups, reusable pads and period pants.
Choosing Period Pads and Tampons For Your Lifestyle
If tampons or pads are the best fit for your lifestyle and preference, there are eco ways to continue using them.
Be mindful when purchasing and look for the brands who use more sustainable materials like organic cotton and bamboo. With this natural process, there is a way for you to make your monthly bleed as sustainable as you wish.
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