Where menstrual waste ends up and what's the impact on the environment?
Where do disposables really end up and what's the impact?
More than 45 billion tampons or sanitary pads are used every year across the world, that’s about 3.2 million kilos of waste . That’s an unfathomable amount and makes our heads spin. To make matters even worse, it’s estimated that a regular non-organic cotton pad can take 500–800 years to break down, additionally, as the main component of disposable pads is plastic (a shocking 90% is plastic ), they will never completely biodegrade. These disposable period products end up in landfills, waterways, rivers, beaches, oceans and in the stomachs of our beautiful wildlife. Plastic that ends up in the ocean is killing over 100,000 marine animals annually. If we don’t change our ways, it’s predicted that by 2050 there could be more plastic in the sea than fish .
The solution to a more sustainable, greener planet for generations to come is in reusables.
What can we do?
Educate ourselves and others. Period taboos have strongly influenced the content of sexual and health education in schools, these classes often only touch over period care options - for the most part, it’s a swift introduction to commercial disposable pads and tampons and we’re sent on our way. Fortunately, these days some schools in Australia are getting on board with reusable period care education, however it’s not yet the vast majority.
If from a young age you were aware of the impacts of disposables mentioned above, would you consider reusable period care or plastic-free period options? We think many people would. Roughly half of the global population menstruates and uses period products, so why don’t we invest more time and energy on education and awareness around the impact disposables have on our earth and our health ( you can read more about health impacts of disposables here).
Let's change the conversation and normalise reusable period care. Many of us are simply unaware and have not been educated on the impacts that plastic filled disposable period products have on the environment. So whether you choose to use reusable cloth pads, period underwear, or a menstrual cup - share your experience with your friends, your family, your children and help spread awareness about reusable period care.