In recent years we've seen everything from fashion to our diets to beauty products have an eco makeover: we all know it's important to be kinder to the planet – and period products shouldn't be an exception. But up until now, it's not always been easy to make environmentally-friendly choices on that front (many leading brands use plastic and the pads end up in landfill), so we're super excited about a new company, Planera, that have launched flushable sanitary pads. Yep! You can throw them into the toilet after use and they'll break down like regular toilet paper, the company's co-founder, Dr Olivia Ahn, told Cosmopolitan UK.
She says she was inspired to create the product after living in a house share and seeing how much waste quickly accrued. "When I moved into my first flat during medical school, I made the decision to be more sustainable. I was horrified at the amount of waste that my housemates and I were producing, but we soon realised how difficult it was to be sustainable," explains Dr Ahn.
"The guilt and responsibility of sustainability was being forced onto us as the consumer. It was seen as our job to split apart packaging, wash out bottles, find and decipher the confusing labels to dispose of properly in the right bin. I just thought 'Why are companies making it so difficult for us to live sustainably?'."
She adds that along with her co-founder, engineer Aaron Koshy, it took over three years to develop the world's first only certified flushable and biodegradable sanitary pads. "Over half of the world needs sanitary products on a monthly basis. We deserve to have a high performing, convenient and sustainable product." The stats are shocking too: over 200,000 tonnes of sanitary waste is produced every year in the UK, with 30% ending up in our waterways and 56% in landfills, not degrading away.
"Planera pads use existing sewage infrastructure to safely break down our products once flushed, like toilet paper, to ensure a sustainable disposable product," explains Dr Ahn. "Currently, every organic and conventional sanitary pad contains plastic and consumers are looking for alternatives."
The pads are designed to be as effective as traditional sanitary towels, to feel soft and have a high level of absorbency – comprised of three layers, the top-sheet is made with biodegradable plant fibres (cushioned to be gentler on the skin). A wood pulp core then removes blood from the top sheet and a biodegradable powder locks it in as a gel.
Dr Ahn also says that if you don't want to flush the pads, that binning them is okay too – either way, they won't end up on landfill as they're made fully of biodegradable plant fibres. "Every part that you touch is made from plant fibres – this means no plastic backing, no humidity when you wear the pad. Whether you choose to flush or bin our pads, we guarantee that they will biodegrade away after use. Planera is the only personal hygiene product that takes the responsibility of waste away from the consumer."
If you're keen to give them a go, Planera are currently offering free trial boxes to 300 people a month. "On our website, we're giving out five free pads in every trial box to 300 people per month," says Dr Ahn. "Once you've trialled our pads and given us feedback, you can choose to get a 15 pad box for £6 - £8 including delivery."
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