During her lifetime, the average menstruating woman will waste up to 17,000 disposable pads and tampons. These directly end up in landfills, resulting in thousands of tons of non-biodegradable waste around the world, monthly.
Not only that.
Disposable pads also imply very high costs. Around $18,000 over a lifetime will be spent on sanitary pads and tampons.
On top of that, several studies have suggested several health hazards related to using disposable period products, such as toxic shock syndrome, bacterial overgrowth, and irritation.
It all sounds very unnecessary, when such a natural thing, like our periods, would result in such ridiculous amounts of waste when it could easily be replaced with a healthier and a more climate-smart alternative: reusable pads.
Reusable pads are made up of natural textiles, usually organic cotton. They look just like normal pads and are attached with a button at the bottom. They also come in different forms and sizes.
How to use?
– After use, rinse or soak in cold water.
– When time comes for laundry, wash in washing machine with the rest of your laundry, and let air dry.
In case you are not home, the cloth pads can easily be put in a wet bag, and later soak them when home.
Are reusable pads less convenient?
But take a moment to consider the pros weighed against the cons of reusable versus traditional sanitary pads.
- Less waste and plastic ending up in landfills
- Will save you money in the long run
- No bleach (traditional pads contain dioxin, a bleaching chemical harmful for the body)
- No perfume (traditional pads are often scented, and can cause yeast infections and health complications)
- Reduces the risk of toxic shock syndrome (especially common among tampons users)
- Reduces the risk of rashes and infections, since they are more breathable
- Reduces water waste resulting from the manufacturing process of traditional pads and tampons
- Less convenient, compared to using traditional pads, especially when traveling
- The use of water for washing them. However, this does not measure up to the amount of water it takes to make traditional pads
- Could lead to bacterial overgrowth if not washed properly
- Can be bulkier
- Not easily available
- Could stain
- Higher initial costs
Try to find pads made from organic cotton, since cotton usually contains a lot of pesticides. Also, try to find pads free from toxic coloring.
A brand I recommend is Imse Vimse. They have a wide selection of eco-friendly washable products, and their pads are made from organic cotton. With a quick Google search, you can also find other online stores selling these, or why not DIY?
If you feel cloth pads are not for you, there are other options to consider for more sustainable periods:
- Menstrual Cup (or Moon Cup). However, many prefer to use cloth pads since studies have shown that moon cups (like tampons) could increase the risk of toxic shock syndrome, due to the overgrowth of certain bacteria.
- Period underwear (such as Thinx)