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Low Impact Period - Reducing Waste and Harmful Chemicals

Low Impact Period – Reducing Waste and Harmful Chemicals

Director of Programs and Policy, Jamie McConnell
Jamie McConnell
Director of
Programs
 & Policy

These days people who menstruate have a lot more choices about how they want to control their period including non-applicator tampons, tampons with applicators, reusable pads, period underwear, and menstrual cups (and even disposable menstrual cups!). With the COVID-19 pandemic and the shortages of essentials that has resulted, I’ve been thinking a lot about reusable period products and more sustainable options. I just purchased reusable period underwear from Lunapads a few weeks ago and am grateful that’s one less product I need to be concerned with going to the store to purchase.

Of course periods don’t stop for pandemics and during this global crisis there are many, many people who menstruate that will need access to period products because it’s a basic necessity that not everyone can afford. There are groups like PERIOD doing wonderful things to increase access to these products. I would also be remiss if I didn’t emphasize that there are many people out there who do not have the privilege to decide what kind of period products they want to use or can consider sustainability as a factor into their decisions (as these products can be more expensive). So if you are one of those people that has the luxury of that choice, be thankful.

It’s estimated that individuals who menstruate will use between 5-15 thousand pads during the course of their menstruating years. Considering between 70-85% of people who menstruate use tampons and pads that’s A LOT of waste, including plastic, that will end up in our environment and landfills. And, some of these products may contain harmful chemicals linked to cancer, infertility, allergens, and more.

If you want to reduce your environmental impact and chemical exposure around the use of menstrual products, consider these options:

  • Use tampons without applicators. Interestingly, the use of applicators seems to be a cultural preference. In Europe, applicatorless tampons are preferred while in the US tampons with applicators are more popular. And also keep in mind that bioplastics or “plant-based” applicators that some greener companies are using might not breakdown in the environment so easily.
  • If you are an avid tampon/pad user, considering switching to organic cotton and fragrance-free products like Natracare, Seventh Generation or LOLA.
  • Try resusable period underwear, but choose wisely. In recent testing Thinx underwear was found to contain PFAS (and the company also uses potentially harmful nanosilver in their products). PFAS was not detected in Lunapads and the company also doesn’t use nanosilver.
  • Use a menstrual cup like Diva or Lunette cups, that you can use over and over again. Just make sure to wash and store it properly.

What sustainable options do you use? Please share in the comments below!

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