Pads, tampons and sanitary products contain excessive amounts of plastic. Researchers suggest that plastic tampons can take up to 600 years to biodegrade. Fear not, there are many alternatives to these plastic-filled options.

The monthly necessity of this product make the volume created and used substantial. In 2018, people purchased 5.8 billion tampons. In their lifetime, someone can use between 5 and 15 thousand sanitary products. The majority of which end up in a landfill. The equivalent of 400 periods over the course of lifetime equals about 440 pounds of waste, per person.

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Tampons and pads contain plastic, are wrapped in plastic, have plastic applicators and strings and usually the product themselves contain excess of plastic. Sanitary pads are mostly made up of plastic to absorb fluid. A sanitary pad can contain up to the equivalent of five plastic bags. In Europe, menstrual products are the fifth most common type of plastic waste to wash up on beaches.

Ann Borowski researches the environmental impact of these products, said of their waste volume, “I don’t want to contribute 40 years of garbage to a landfill just to manage something that shouldn’t even be seen as a problem. It seems like something we should have a little more control of by now. I don’t want to have that kind of burden on the planet.”

How can this process be more sustainable? The Women’s Environmental Network is working to make the process more sustainable, a practice its dubbed, “Environmenstrual.” They suggest solutions including searching for plastic-free tampons and pads. Environmental advocates recommend cardboard applicators or reusable applicators.

Other alternatives include menstrual cups, and period pants and reusable pads. Used tampons and pads should not be flushed down the toilet, but rather wrapped and thrown out.

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There are products you may be using or habits you may have that contribute to plastic pollution. Learn more about how the use of Teabags, Cotton Swabs, Laundry, Contact Lenses, Glitter and Sheet Masks pollute our oceans so you can make more informed decisions going forward. There are also numerous simple actions and switches that can help cut plastic out of our lives including, making your own cosmetics, shampoo, toothpaste, soap, household cleaners and using  mason jars, reusable bags/bottles/straws, avoiding microbeads

Read more One Green Planet news about health and hygiene for the planet, check out these articles:

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