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5 Period Plastic Facts to Know in 2024

Plastic tampon applicator caught up in seaweed in the ocean showing the impact of period plastic on the planet.

Let’s talk about period plastic and the environmental impact of conventional period products.

In an effort to reduce the amount of plastic waste we generate every day and live more sustainably, concerns around period plastic are on the rise. Conventional tampons and pads have been found to contain large amounts of single-use plastic.

Tackling the wave of period plastic.

In the UK alone, we generate over 200,000 tonnes of menstrual product waste each year, most of which is plastic. On top of this, approx 1.5-2 billion menstrual items are flushed (in error) down the toilet every year. These facts alone show us that period plastic pollution is a problem for the planet. 

The facts to know in 2024:

  • Carbon-neutral period care exists.

If you’re looking to lower your carbon footprint, then good news you can get carbon-neutral period care. Alongside the period plastic problem, conventional products use cotton and rayon. Non-organic cotton is often grown using synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides, which use a lot of energy to produce and contribute to greenhouse gases. Additionally, rayon production pollutes water and can contribute to deforestation.

Our organic cotton range is made in a facility powered by renewable energy. We work with ClimatePartner to measure, reduce and offset unavoidable emissions, making our range carbon-neutral.

  • Plastic tampon applicators are not widely recyclable.

It is recommended to dispose of all tampon applicators in general waste. The recycling of tampon applicators in the UK can vary depending on the local council’s recycling scheme. As tampon applicators are small and made of mixed materials, they are generally not accepted. They also come into contact with bodily fluids which makes them unsuitable for recycling.

For this reason, to tackle period plastic, we recommend opting for cardboard tampon applicators or reusable tampon applicators. Plastic tampon applicators can take up to 500 years to break down. According to a Greenpeace report from 2019, bio-plastic tampon applicators can take the same time to break down as regular plastic applicators.

  • Menstrual cups offer 99% waste saving.

Menstrual cups are an eco-friendlier period product because they are reusable and last a long time – up to 10 years! They create less waste and use fewer resources when comparing them to all other period care products. Other reusables, like period pants, need to go in the washing machine after use which uses energy every cycle. With a menstrual cup, you pop it in boiling water for 3-5 minutes to sterilise at the end of your period. For these reasons, cups are truly a zero-waste period solution.

  • SAP or superabsorbent polymers are petroleum-derived and commonly used in pads

SAP also known as superabsorbent polymers or mislabeled as ‘sap’ are petroleum-derived additives used to cheaply enhance the absorbency of menstrual pads. These are often added to many conventional pads and bamboo pads on the market but can take up to 500 years to break down. For this reason, we never use SAP in our range, instead we opt for sustainable and naturally absorbent materials. It’s important to do your research, even when shopping period care labelled as ‘eco-friendly.’ If you’re in doubt, a quick water test can help reveal any hidden SAP in your pads. Simply pour water onto the pad and cut it in half. If you see a crystalised ‘slush’ appear, then your pad contains SAP.

  • In 2024, there are so many ways to tackle period plastic as we have more options.

Sustainability is changing period care we as know it. It’s great to have so many options in 2023. This matters as nobody should feel pressure to use period products that don’t work for them. We face enough shame and discomfort during our periods without added societal pressure. Depending on your budget, lifestyle, and flow, you can find a way to reduce period plastic that fits with your needs. You can choose organic/natural tampons or pads, menstrual cups, period pants or a mix.

Also, one thing that everyone can do to have a more sustainable period – is never flush tampons or pads. UK Water companies say to only flush the 3 P’s (paper, poo, and pee) down the toilet. This helps prevent sewage blocks and ocean pollution.

We hope these period plastic facts support your efforts to have a planet-friendly period. You can shop our range here.

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