The average woman uses about 10,000 sanitary menstrual products in her lifetime. This means about 20 billion disposable menstrual products end up in North American landfills alone each year.
If that’s not reason enough to consider greener alternatives, big-name conventional tampons and pads have also been shown to contain potentially harmful and even carcinogenic ingredients including dioxins, petrochemical additives, and synthetic fibers, which brands do not legally have to disclose.
So we know disposable tampons and pads create a lot of waste, and that they often contain toxins that are harmful to our bodies. But the good news is that there are a surprisingly large number of alternatives, and we’ve compiled a handy list right here:
(Image from Slate.com)
Flexible, re-useable menstrual cups are becoming more popular. They hold more than a tampon and some can be used for up to ten years. There are several brands making the cups, so you can research and find the one that is right for you. Most are made from either rubber or medical-grade silicon (safe for latex allergies), and as bonus, they do not cause dryness like tampons.
Diva Cup: http://divacup.com
How-to video: https://youtu.be/TROd8gCq2so
Substituting plant-like ocean organisms for tampons might seem like an odd idea, but sea sponges have been in use for thousands of years. They’re comfortable (there’s even an ultra soft version), come in multiple sizes, and reusable for 3-6 months. While they do eventually have to be disposed of, they’re sustainably harvested and biodegradable, so still a better option for the environment than single-use tampons and pads.
Jade & Pearl: http://jadeandpearl.com/sea-pearls-reusable-sea-sponges/
Underwear with an absorbent liner, with a variety of styles for light to heavy flow.
LunaPads Underwear: http://lunapads.com/underwear
Reusable Cloth Pads
These can last for years, and the cotton is usually less irritating than the plastic in disposable pads. Cloth pads are often conveniently machine-washable.
Party in My Pants: www.partypantspads.com
If you’re of the craftier variety, you can make your very own reusable pads. This method is extremely environmentally friendly, as well as easy to personalize to suit your style and comfort.
Organic Cotton Pads & Tampons
While still disposable, these are not made with pesticides, so may be a better choice for anyone worried about the health effects of conventional tampons and pads. If you want to lessen the environmental impact you can buy organic tampons without plastic applicators.
Seventh Generation: http://www.seventhgeneration.com/feminine-hygiene
And our latest news: On August 31, the Women’s Resource Center will be holding a workshop on making DIY pads for the organization Days for Girls, which distributes them to girls and women in need. Stay tuned for more information!
And finally, here’s a Mooncup vs. Tampon Rap Battle. You’re welcome.
Center for Young Women’s Health: http://youngwomenshealth.org/2013/03/28/period-products/