Did you know that, on average, a woman is expected to use approximately 16,000 or more tampons or pads in her lifetime? If we take this sum for years, it translates to 7 billion tampons and pads that end up in the disposal areas as plastic waste.
The Woman Post | Catalina Mejía
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Therefore, we could say that each woman produces 200 kg that ends up in landfills throughout her life.
The bitter cup of this pollution is that sanitary ware is made mostly of single-use plastics and cotton, for design convenience. According to National Geographic, it is not an easy battle to eliminate plastics from tampon design, for reasons that include science, feelings of shame, and culture. Average menstrual products have plastic envelopes, plastic applicators, and reinforced plastic cords. According to the Friends of the Earth organization in the UK, menstrual pads are made from 90% plastic.
As stated by the Oceans Conservancy, in 2018, 5.8 billion tampons were sold in the US, representing one-third of the global total. In Europe, sanitary products are the fifth most common item found on beaches, even higher on the list than straws or coffee cups. The problem is that when menstrual plastic products become garbage, they cause harmful effects on the environment because they take a long time to decompose and also because they can harm fish and clog waterways. On the other hand, cotton is also unsustainable as its production requires the use of harmful pesticides and agrochemicals and also requires a large amount of water.
The good news is that we can all help stop this situation by using one of the many alternatives to plastic sanitary products. As sustainable products, the following can be mentioned:
1. Reusable Pads
Mostly made of fabric with layers of bamboo fibers to maximize absorption. They have wings to attach them to underwear. Their advantage is that they provide the comfort of sanitary napkins, being a more ecological option.
2. Absorbent Underwear
This type of underwear is washable and replaces sanitary napkins and tampons. It can also be used with sanitary pads or tampons to increase protection. They can be washed regularly with other clothes. They are usually designed with properties that prevent bad odors.
3. Reusable Tampon Applicators
Provide users with a way to insert tampons that reduces the amount of waste for landfills. Another advantage is that they are generally made for a standard fit that can be used with any brand of tampons.
4. Reusable Menstrual Cups
These cups are made of rubber or silicone and are inserted into the vagina to help collect fluid. They can be worn on average for 12 hours, depending on your flow.
The call is towards using more sustainable healthcare products that take care of our planet. Let's consider the various eco-friendly brands that provide non-plastic (or less plastic) healthcare products without sacrificing comfort or safety.