Why and how to deplastify your period
Plastic pervades modern life, and menstruation is no exception, as the materials used to manufacture the most commonly used period products nowadays come from the petroleum industry and forestry.
It is easy to see. Tampons are wrapped in plastic foils, encased in plastic applicators, with plastic strings dangling from one end, and a thin layer of plastic in their absorbent part. Pads generally incorporate even more plastic, from the leak-proof base through the synthetics that soak up fluid to the packaging; every single one of them bears about the same amount of crude oil plastic as four plastic bags. That is a hell of a lot of plastic right there. But it is not it.
Add to it that most women will menstruate for about 40 years in total, bleeding for five days a month, which equals to a staggering six and a half years of their lives. The numbers leave us with an average lady using up to 12,000 disposable period products, over the course of her lifetime, each of which takes at least 500 years to degrade? No surprise that pads and tampons are the 5th most common beach waste.
It’s true, plastic is in no way fantastic!
Our planet is not the only one impacted, because there is a very fine line between polluting production practices, nasty ingredients and our health.
Notably, synthetics in feminine hygiene products restrict airflow, trap heat and dampness, hence disturbing the vaginal pH and potentially promoting yeast and bacterial growth in the vaginal area. Additionally, the application of a tampon may cause micro-tears in the vaginal walls, allowing the bacteria to accumulate and leading to a higher risk of a life-threatening condition called the toxic shock syndrome.
Traditional period products also contain other potentially toxic ingredients, such as conventionally grown cotton full of pesticides, genetically modified organisms, chlorine bleach, as well as odour neutralizers and fragrances heavily packed with polyester, adhesives, polyethylene, polypropylene, propylene glycol, and artificial colours, contaminants linked to hormone disruption, cancer, birth defects, dryness and infertility.
This is no good news, you know why? Well, because our skin is the largest, thinnest and one of the most permeable organs in our body, especially in and around the vaginal area, meaning that anything coming in contact with it will end up in our bloodstream for distribution throughout the body, directly reaching the organs and accumulating, as we typically lack the necessary enzymes to break them down.
“Something magical happens when you realise what's not working and let go.”
It does not matter if you are more of a disposable pads or tampons user; nowadays there are equally reliable reusable alternatives available to collect menstrual blood. Be it ultra-absorbent menstrual pads, leak free period panties or a long-lasting invisible menstrual cup, be prepared for a positive change in the way you manage your period, because they are better for your body, the planet and your wallet than traditional sanitary products, and also, so much more convenient. What exactly makes them so great? Well, there is no doubt that they are:
Contrary to their invasive synthetic ancestors, reusable menstrual products are closer to nature and thus made of non-toxic, hypoallergenic and odour-neutralising ingredients, such as non-dyed organic cotton, bamboo or charcoal in case of pads and panties and a soft medical-grade silicone when it comes to menstrual cups, which makes them all free from allergy-prone, as well as carcinogenic plastics, toxins and bleaches.
Long-lasting, washable and reusable mean these products will last for up to 10 years, so thanks to just a handful of them, you will not be leaving those 12,000 pieces of sanitary waste behind you anymore.
The cost of a reusable menstrual cup or a set of washable menstrual pads is equal to the cost of 6 months worth of traditional period product supplies. It gets slightly higher when opting for period panties, but still, imagine all those savings adding up to 6 years worth of period product supplies, yay.
No more tampons or runaway pads to accidentally fall out with your wallet, no more planning ahead and regularly shopping for disposable period products, and no more urgently searching for them on your trips. You have your set of cute washable pads, discreet panties or a simple cup and that is all you need for the next 10 years.
In particular, the menstrual cup is great for busy and active lifestyles, as it has three times the capacity of a super tampon and can be worn for up to 12 hours, depending on the strength of your flow. No more visits to the toilet in 3-4 hour intervals, no more embarrassing menstrual odour wafting out at the most inopportune times either, since the fluid does not get exposed to air as it does with pads and tampons, and last but not least, forget about those gross, pee soaked tampon strings popping out to make appearances at the pool or beach. You will not even notice you have it; it is invisible, allows you to exercise freely with no worries about leaking or showing, and also to finally sleep through the night.
Easy to use
The swap towards reusable menstrual products is a piece of cake and does not even require a change of habits when it comes to washable pads or period panties. You simply snap or put them on, change them regularly, add to your laundry when used, instead of tossing them to a bin and enjoy all the abovementioned benefits they have to offer.
A menstrual cup might feel like more of a change, but rest assured that anyone who has used tampons, especially the kind without applicators, should have little trouble getting used to it. For those who have not, here is a quick guide with all you need to know about how to use a menstrual cup:
That’s it! So what do you think? Is it time for change?