The widespread plastic pollution problem is damaging the environment. Affecting wildlife, oceans and filling up landfill sites. Everyday items are contributing to the issue and it turns out even your period care is part of the problem! Here we give you the lowdown on plastic in period care and talk about alternatives. Plus, scroll to discover our £2 switch kits!
Do you know what your tampons, pads and liners are made of? It’s strange when you think about it, but these are usually items that we don’t think to question. You might have used the same product, from the same brand for years without questions the ingredients – it looks like it’s just cotton, right?
Well, this is not entirely true. Whilst you might be using a pad with a ‘cotton-like feel’ for example, the majority of the time what you’re actually using is a pad made with plastic materials.
What are my tampons and pads made from?
Here’s a very general look at what these products are usually made from:
Many mainstream tampons are made from a mix of conventional cotton and rayon. Viscose rayon, a synthetic fibre used since the 1930s, is produced from cellulose. The majority of these tampons are then wrapped in plastic and/or come with a plastic applicator. According to WEN, there are nine plastic tampon applicators found per kilometre on UK beaches. This doesn’t even account for the billions of plastic applicators that end up in the landfill.
Mainstream pads are usually made with cellulose, polyethene and polyolefins. City to Sea revealed in 2017 that your standard pad (and the wrappers) can contain up to 4 carrier bags worth of plastic! This can explain why some pad users can find them bulky and uncomfortable. Plus, as a side note, many pads also contain deodorants or fragrance which can lead to irritation by disrupting the pH balance in your vagina.
The problem with this use of plastic is that even if the tampon or pad is disposed of correctly (in the bin rather than down the toilet) it can sit around for years in the landfill. Plastic can take up to 1000 years to decompose! So every pad you, your mum and your grandmother (and so on) might still be in existence.
What are the alternatives?
Periods are personal and you have to make a choice based on what’s right for you. If you’re looking to be a conscious shopper and green up your period, the good news is that there are now so many options available!
Organic cotton period care
Organic cotton tampons, pads and liners are designed to be kind to YOU and the planet. TOTM period care, for example, is all made with certified organic cotton, without rayon, fragrance/perfumes or chlorine bleach. We ditch plastic applicators in favour of cardboard (which is biodegradable) and use eco-alternatives with our wrappers wherever possible. Our pads are wrapped in compostable and biodegradable film in place of plastic! We do wrap our non-apps in plastic as it’s industry standard, but this is recyclable and is due to change very soon.
Reusable options are also increasingly popular, one of the key choices being the menstrual cup. Don’t be put off by how it looks, the cup is a highly effective solution to capture rather than absorb menstrual flow. You buy one-cup and then reuse this on your period! Like anything new, it takes some getting used to but as soon as you learn how to fold and comfortably place the cup it’s a game-changer. You can reuse on your period for years following the straightforward cleaning/sterilisation guidelines to keep it hygienic.
Whilst a cup is a direct replacement for a tampon, there are also reusable options for pad users. This includes washable reusable pads and period pants.
It’s worth doing your research and finding what will work with your flow and lifestyle. It could be an eco-disposable, a reusable or a combination of the two.
Do these alternatives perform?
We couldn’t sign off the blog without answering this crucial question! After all, we are talking about products designed to collect/absorb menstrual flow. You need to have confidence that they won’t let you down when you’re in work, on the bus or at the gym. The short answer is YES. These products all comply to industry standard absorbency guidelines. They are also trusted by women across the UK (and the world) – take a look at our switch stories to hear from people who’ve switched.
Ready to make the switch? Discover our £2 switch kits which contain a mix of our organic cotton tampons, pads and liners! Ideal to ‘give organic a -go’ on your next period.
If you’re ready for a reusable, shop our menstrual cups here!