I recently found myself asking the question: What feminine hygiene products are available for environmentally friendly women? And are these products also safe for a woman without the fear of potential toxic shock syndrome?
Feminine hygiene is a very sensitive and personal topic and this question is one that I hadn’t considered looking into in terms of being greener before now because of the very nature of it. In this case, recycling is not really an option. Thankfully I have found that there are some greener alternatives to those hygiene products currently on the market, both in the tampon and sanitary napkin styles.
I’ve selected a few to take a closer look at, but, as a lead in to talking about such a sensitive topic, I felt the need to write this article to get you thinking about why we should care. If you prefer to go straight to the products, please go straight to the other article. [Coming Soon]
Frankly I Was Mad At Myself
I must admit, I was a little annoyed with myself because I am a female and would like to be as focused as I can be around creating a lifestyle that takes into account sustainable living, yet I hadn’t given any thought to something that produces large amounts of waste to our environment throughout the life of every single woman in the world. Something like this should have been obvious but I was so used to the normal products, having used them for many years, it was something that just did not click. I’ve woken up and letting you know, we have choices in this area too. Did you know this yourself? That you aren’t restricted to what’s in the supermarket shelves?
So Why Care? Because Tons Of Waste Could Be Avoided
How Do Menstrual Cycle Products Impact On The Environment?
Menstrual cycles affect a woman from their early teens, sometimes before that, and stays with them for the next 40 or 50 years or more, until they go through menopause and cease their cycles. When you consider that there are 52 weeks in the year and a female’s menstrual cycle occurs roughly every 4 weeks, that means that every year a woman has about 13 cycles where she is producing waste from sanitary napkins and tampons.
Nearly Every Woman Adds To The Landfill
One woman would use on average around 3 or 4 of these products each day throughout her menstrual cycle. Work out the math on just one woman over her lifetime and this means that a single woman alone has the capacity to use in excess of 18200 feminine hygiene products in her lifetime. Multiply that by the number of women in the world that have access to them, and you have a huge amount of such personal care items ending up in our landfill, or in some cases, oceans.
Let Us Consider The Impact Of This
You’ve Thrown Away Your Personal Hygiene Item, Then What?
What happens to sanitary napkins and tampons when they are thrown away. Many women would place them in plastic bags rather than straight in the bins, but some may choose to wrap them in paper. Likewise, it is the same with tampons. Once upon a time, the garbage collectors in my neighbourhood where I grew up, demanded that all sanitary napkins and tampons be placed in bags otherwise they would refuse to collect the rubbish from the homes where they found them. I don’t think that practice is allowed any more, but it certainly would have had an environmental impact at the time. If women continue to do this many years later, then we are looking at long term impacts. How long does a sanitary napkin spend decomposing?
A VERY Long Time It Would Seem
According to an article by Peter Delaney from Down2Earth Materials, it can take 500-800 years for a sanitary napkin to break down. Plastic bags can take 500 – 1000 years to degrade. Due to tampons being made from materials more readily broken down, it can take around 5 months to decompose, however if taking into account the plastic bag that may have been used to throw it away, we are still looking at up to 1000 years for the Earth to be finally rid of all of these items.
That is only if we all stop using them NOW. In 1000 years what would our world look like? To think that we might be flying around instead of driving cars in that time while the last of the sanitary napkins are only just finished decomposing. To think that technology had come such a long way, yet 1000 years later, one sanitary napkin has finally finished decomposing, is a scary thought. One I’d rather see changed.
We Could Run Out Of Landfill Space With These Items Alone!
As the population grows into the future, we can expect even more women to be using them and I can’t even work out the math on that. Let’s just assume that in another 50 years or so, the population growth will have most likely doubled, meaning that we would be looking at 18200 sanitary items plus plastic bags if used, per life of a single woman, multiplied by double the amount of women alive in the world today that have access to them. HUGE! I can’t even guess at the amount of landfill space required to dump such large quantities if they were all dumped at the same location.
This Doesn’t Include Air Pollution And Pathogens
This doesn’t even take into consideration the implications of blood borne pathogens being introduced into the dumping ground, or the pollution generated from the incineration of those items collected in public facilities by sanitary bin disposal units as well. That would take another article or two. One thing I am sure of is that 1000 years of adding to the landfill day after day for just these things, may lead to reduced living space for the population and animals in the long term. What would happen then?
A Need For Alternative Housing Would Arise, Among Other Things, That’s What!
What do I mean by alternative housing? If we run out of room to live on our planet, there aren’t many options left for us. We either go up, or down, or sideways, unless we have mastered space travel. Please read the article I wrote as I contemplated the future of the housing of humanity if we continue down this landfill and wasteful path. It’s not a pretty thought. We need to do something about it. Let’s do what we can to reduce landfill.
LET’S HOPE WE CAN MAKE CHANGES NOW!
I think it’s past time we looked into what feminine hygiene products are available for environmentally friendly women, and I’m glad to say yes, they are available. It is a relief that someone, somewhere has come up with a solution short of going back to the days of using old rags and re-washing them. The products I looked into, include body safe silicone menstrual cups and specially designed cloth napkins, both reusable and safer for the environment and you. I don’t want to keep ruining this planet. Have a think about whether these options work for you and you can make your own decisions.
Thank you for reading