Periods are a pain in the ass. For many people they are uncomfortable, painful, inconvenient and freakin’ expensive. So it’s never a great news day when you find out that as well as being biologically obliged to do them for much of your life, you’re going to have to change how you have periods too.
It had never really occurred to me until recently that having periods often includes using a lot of plastic. Things come wrapped in plastic, they’re made with plastic, and despite what the packaging always said when I started buying tampons 12 years ago, you definitely aren’t supposed to flush any kind of sanitary product… partly on account of all the plastic.
So what’s an ovary-owner to do, given that you can’t just choose not to have periods in the same way as you might choose not to eat fish? (An example I offer because so much of the plastic waste floating in the oceans comes from the fishing industry.) You can’t ditch sanitary items altogether, but there are a bunch of alternatives you can try. And as a mid-month bonus, I’ve even got some freebies to give away.
As part of the campaign to #GOplasticfree for July, I’m taking this opportunity to draw attention to a campaign by Natracare – a plastic-free brand who make organic cotton pads, tampons and other period necessities – called ‘Time to Sea Red’.
Did you know that it takes 500 years for a sanitary pad to break down? Because I totally didn’t. Or that a pack of pads contains the same amount of plastic as four carrier bags. The Marine Conservation Society have found more than 20,000 tampons, applicators and pads in their last decade of beach cleans around Great Britain, and aside from making your day at the beach a little less hygienic, it’s a worrying sign of just how much is floating around in the ocean.
Plastic-free Period Products
I did recently invest in some Thinx underwear – which I’ll be posting about in the near future – a witchcraft-esque invention designed to take away the need for tampons/pads/liners by turning your underwear into a sort of magical multi-purpose absorbent-but-dry THING. But Thinx are really fricken expensive. And if you’re in the UK like me, the import fees are painful.
Yes, over the course of their lifetime they cost less than you’d spend on tampons and things, but the initial cost means they aren’t something everyone can buy. And, because you’re supposed to hand wash them before putting them in the laundry, they aren’t necessarily as accessible-to-all as a disposable item.
I do love Thinx now I have them, which is why I’m going to give them some blog time soon, but in terms of finding an alternative that is no more bother/cost than your usual I’m more than happy to point people in the direction of Natracare. Their products are made from organic cotton, are chlorine and plastic-free, and if you’d like to give them a whirl for yourself free of charge then drop me a line via the contact form at the bottom of this page.
If you’re hoping to score some biodegradable freebies, just let me know your name, email address and which of the three products in the below photo you’d like – you can say all three if you want! Later, I’ll be in touch (once I’ve drawn names out of a hat at the end of July) to get your postal address, which you can rest assured I won’t be keeping/storing anywhere (GDPR compliant, yo).
Reusable cotton pads are also gaining popularity and I absolutely back investigating companies like one local to me, Red Queen Cloth, who make washable, reusable sanitary products in loads of funky fabrics and designs. But these aren’t for everyone, whereas an extra-eco-warrior-points version of something you know you’re happy using has got to be a win.
Plastic/period Pollution Facts:
- More than 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the ocean every year
- As well as plastic, traditional sanitary products contain the additional pollutant chlorine
- It’s estimated that 700,000 panty liners are flushed down the toilet every day – pouring them into sewage supplies and in turn, putting them at risk of entering waterways
- 100,000 marine mammals and turtles are killed by plastic pollution every year, along with around 1 million sea birds
- Recent studies have revealed marine plastic pollution in 100% of marine turtles, 59% of whales, 36% of seals and 40% of seabird species
There are loads of little things we can do to try and reduce the amount of plastic waste we’re responsible for, and when it comes to something as personal as your period it’s totally up to you whether you’re most keen on reusable fabric items, long-lasting silicone cups, biodegradable everyday options or luxe imported undies. Whatever it is, doing more for the planet doesn’t have to feel like doing more – rather, doing the same thing, only slightly different.
If you’ve got a favourite product or just want to leave some votes for or against anything you’ve tried then please do shout in the comments below – and remember, if you’d like to be in with a chance to receive a free plastic-free period package in the post, just get in touch via the form at the bottom of the contact page. If you’re randomly selected on July 31st, I’ll be in touch to find out where to send your freebies 🙂
(Note: while Natracare provided the freebies for this post, they aren’t paying me to be nice about them – this post is collaborative, but genuine)