A plastic-free period is possible: Here's how

Is it possible to have a plastic free period? [Photo: Getty]
Is it possible to have a plastic free period? [Photo: Getty]

You can’t ignore the plastic issue right now. Just last week we told you how experts have warned that plastic contamination could soon be “catastrophic” for human health.

But did you realise that a contributing factor to the world’s plastic problems could actually be our periods?

While you’re battling the impact of PMT, stomach cramps and other period side effects, the environment might be the last thing on your mind, but according to new research periods products are having some pretty serious detrimental effects on the marine environment.

That’s because the majority of period products such as tampons and sanitary pads are predominantly made from plastic, which makes it harder for them to be broken down when they enter the sewage system.

According to figures published in the Journal of the Institution of Environmental Sciences approximately 700,000 panty liners, 2.5 million tampons and 1.4 million sanitary towels are flushed down the toilet in the UK every single day.

Further research from the Marine Conservation Society and Natracare, a plastic-free period brand, has revealed that one pack of sanitary pads can contain the equivalent quantity of plastic as four carrier bags.

What’s more, one pad can take as long as 500 years to fully break down.

Some experts are so concerned about the environmental impact of periods that a protest was held over the weekend.

Campaigners took part in the ‘Sea-Red’ march in Brighton to highlight the importance of not flushing sanitary products into the water supply and switching to reusable options.

But it is possible to have a plastic-free period.

Period-proof underwear

While Thinx has been championing the period pant for quite some time, earlier this year, the UK’s first ‘period pants’ were launched.

The £30 reusable underwear can be worn without the need for any other sanitary products, lasts up to eleven hours and offers three layers of protection including “super comfortable” hi-tech fabrics.

And though they’ve been designed to save women hundreds of pounds each year as they’ll no longer need to fork out for costly tampons and towels, they could also have an impact on the plastic problem too.

Re-usable tampon applicators

British organic tampon company DAME has a reusable applicator. The idea is you use, rinse and reuse the applicator, instead of throwing away countless plastic ones every month.

Both Thinx and Dame are also planning on selling 100% organic cotton tampons to accompany their reusable applicators. A move that will likely make them one of the most environmentally friendly options out there.

Tampons are contributing to the world’s plastic problem [Photo: Getty]
Tampons are contributing to the world’s plastic problem [Photo: Getty]

Mooncup 2.0

According to Women’s Environmental Network, a menstrual cup is rated as the most sustainable option for those looking to make their period more plastic-friendly.

A Mooncup, for example, is available for £20 and lasts ten years. Sustainable, cost effective and their packaging is plastic-free. And the newly launched Lily Cup One by Intimina will also help women to minimise the amount of waste they contribute to landfill each year.

The Lily Cup One costs just £19.99 and is made from body-safe, ultra-hygienic, medical-grade silicone which can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time.

The cup also lasts up to 10 years, meaning that the small investment can make a big difference to both your pocket and the plastic problem.

Leak-proof swimwear

Sanitary pad underwear company PantyProp recently developed a pair of bikini bottoms that use the same technology as their leak-proof undies, to let you swim with ease while wearing a pad.

“We endlessly researched and designed a universal solution that provided security, comfortability, and a easy quick process for people universally to become worry-free while using sanitary pads,” explains the website.

“The developed, designed, and patented functional undergarment protects, conceals, and provides comfort all day while wearing a sanitary pad.”

Reusable sanitary pads

Resent research has revealed that a single woman can generate between 125 to 150 kilograms of sanitary waste during their menstruation years.

Hoping to have an input in reducing this statistic, an Australian company has launched Hannahpad, a cloth sanitary pad that can be washed and reused.

Made in Korea from 100 per cent organic cotton, the Hannahpad claims to be cost-effective, eco-friendly, vegan and sustainable.

The pads looks similar to regular pads, with an external waterproof coating, which helps protect against leaks. It also comes in a variety of patterns.

“The only challenge some women will bring up is that you have to wash it,” founder Marcus Steve tells the Daily Mail.

“We suggest that women wear it like their usually cycle and change it after however many hours wearing it.”

To wash, simply remove and fold it back up and place it in a plastic carry bag to bring home. Steve suggests rinsing them first in cold water, they can also be thrown in the washing machine after being rinsed.

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