What are conventional period products made from?
In today's society, consumers have minimal information about what is in a period product or what it's made from, and advertising makes it very easy to trust brands without second-guessing what a product contains. It comes to a surprise that most conventional period products use plastic as the main i component according to WEN's impact report.
Many of the additives and residues, even though they may be present in small amounts, have been linked with health impacts from irritation. If you consider that in average women can use up to 11,000 disposable period products in their life (based on the average 38 years of menstruation, using in average 22 period products per cycle, for an average of 13 cycles per year), there is a massive concern for the cumulative and combined exposure to a range of chemicals through the menstruating lifetime according to the Environmental & Economic Cost of Investigating the impact of these single-use items across Europe.
What changes need to be introduced?
The Menstrual Hygiene awareness day campaign and Natruacare and WEN aim to call for specific legislation on all period products. Although these products are currently covered by the General Product Directive and often manufacturers adopt a voluntary code for protecting their safety, unfortunately the production is not explicitly addressed in the legislation. The request is for clarity into the materials used for period products and for a proper regulation, with a legislation that should cover the raw materials right through to disposal. We all agree we need safer, sustainable, plastic-free and affordable period products for all!
Why switch to reusable or organic certified menstrual products?
Menstural products are one of the most commonly found single plastic items in our marine environment. According to Zero Waste Europe, up to 90% of conventional menstrual pads and up to 6% of tampons contain plastic. Another way to look at it is that just one conventional pack of menstrual pads contains the equivalent of four plastics bags.
How do we reduce our menstrual waste?
According to No Waste, disposal of single-use menstrual products - tampons, pads, and applicators - generates 200,000 tons of waste per year in the UK alone. It is always good to remember that plastic products can take up to a thousand years to decompose in landfills or the ocean, and that plastic waste kills up to 1 million seabirds, 100,000 sea mammals, marine turtles, and countless fish each year. According to The Ocean Conference, plastic remains in our ecosystem for years, harming thousands of sea creatures every day.
What should we do?
A good way to reduce waste and carbon footprint is to look for reusable menstrual products alongside GOTS certified organic options like Natracare. The market for menstrual products is increasing, and nowadays there are plenty of reusable and more sustainable options on the market often available in our local supermarkets. Better options are available, it is up to us to make the right choice!
For more information on reusable products, you can head over to WEN's website with a list of certified brands and discount codes.
To help us better understand people's experiences with menstrual products, we need your help in completing this very short survey. By WEN and Natracare. For more information on the campaign you can also follow the hash tags #PeriodNonScents #FragranceFreePeriods
Image credit: WEN.