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Why your periods are costing the earth

We’ve all seen them. Those patronising, sometimes amusing, but unfortunately justified signs reminding us how to correctly dispose of our feminine hygiene products. Personally I’m not a massive fan of toilet hygiene instructions and I’d like to think they’re unnecessary – but unfortunately they aren’t. Women are flushing non-biodegradable tampons and applicators and our earth is suffering.

According to the UN Environment Programme there are on average 13,000 pieces of floating plastic per square kilometre of ocean. Now I’m fully aware that tampon applicators will only account for a small proportion of that number, but they are contributing to the plastic pollution of our oceans. What’s worse is that ‘binning’ them doesn’t really help, this just causes different problems. The average woman will throw away over 100 kilos of tampons, pads and applicators in her lifetime, the vast majority of which will end up (not) decomposing on a landfill site somewhere.

Aside from the issues linked with the disposal of these non-biodegradable “hygiene” products, not enough attention is paid to the ingredients used within them. We produce and use twenty times more plastic today than we did 50 years ago, which isn’t surprising considering each mainstream sanitary pad contains the equivalent of about four plastic bags. Grim. Tampons and pads are also made from chemically processed wood pulp, which creates a material called rayon. While the raw material for rayon, cellulose or wood pulp, is renewable, turning it into fabric and rayon involves chemicals, such as carbon disulfide, caustic soda, and sulfuric acid.

Unfortunately, this problem doesn’t have a fairytale ending (yet), but the closest thing I’ve found to a white knight is organic biodegradable feminine hygiene products. Not only do they benefit your health and personal wellbeing, they’re also better for the world. I will hold my hands up that I could do more in regards to recycling and buying sustainable products, and the monumental Paris climate agreements have made me want to change that.  I have never felt more inspired, encouraged and empowered to do everything I can to ensure a positive future for our world. I know most people try to do their bit; they might recycle, buy organic food, grow their own veg, reuse and recycle their shopping bags – but many of us forget that the choices we make for our vaginas, can also benefit the world. With organic feminine hygiene products, we can look after the world, one organic tampon (or pad) at a time.

Lauren, from Bristol.

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