Tired of using disposable period products that end up in landfills?
So we’re exploring all the options for sustainable period products ‒ pros, cons, and how to use them.
Sustainable period products are better for the environment, and they’re often better for your body, too.
There are a lot of different options out there, so we’re going to help you weigh up your choices, so you can make the right decision for you and your body.
From organic tampons and biodegradable sanitary pads to period pants and menstrual cups, you’re sure to find an eco-friendly period product that works for you.
So whether you tend to try tampons or you prefer pads, we’ve got something for you.
Let’s go with the flow.
In this article: 📝
- What is the most sustainable period product?
- What is a sustainable alternative to pads?
- Can you compost period blood?
- Are tampons better for the environment than pads?
- What is the eco alternative to tampons?
What is the most sustainable period product?
Honestly, it’s hard to say which is the most sustainable.
Generally speaking, menstrual cups are praised for their reusability ‒ they can last up to 10 years with proper care ‒ the manufacturing process can harm the environment.
But not always.
While some menstrual cups are made of rubber (which, generally, isn’t great for the environment), most are made from silicone, which, while it isn’t considered toxic, also doesn’t biodegrade, and can get swallowed by wildlife.
There’s also not much data on how much energy and water it takes to make menstrual cups, so it’s hard to say whether they could be damaging the environment more.
And as for disposing of menstrual cups ‒ if they’re made from medical-grade silicone, you can actually burn them, they’re not likely to release any toxic fumes.
For rubber menstrual cups, it’s best to avoid throwing them in the fire, as rubber doesn’t burn easily ‒ if in doubt, and your cup is past its best, boil it one last time to clean it, and throw it away with your regular trash.
Even if it ends up in a landfill, it’s still considerably better than dozens of tampons or pads!
All things considered, menstrual cups are generally the most sustainable period product on the market ‒ compared to tampons, pads, and even period pants.
But they might not be the best choice for everyone ‒ they can be tricky to use, awkward to empty in public spaces, and sometimes uncomfortable, especially if they’re inserted incorrectly or you suffer from painful cramps, PCOS, or endometriosis.
What is a sustainable alternative to pads?
Disposable pads are convenient, but they’re not great for the environment.
They end up in landfills, where they can take anywhere from 500 to 800 years to decompose.
So what’s a sustainable alternative to pads?
There are a few different options out there, but one of our favorites is the Daye bamboo pads.
Daye pads are made from bamboo orn-based PLA, so they’re better for the environment than classic disposable pads.
They’re also just as comfortable and leak-proof as disposable pads, so you don’t have to sacrifice your comfort for sustainability.
And because they’re compostable, you can feel good knowing that you’re not contributing to landfill waste.
So if you’re looking for a sustainable alternative to pads, Daye pads are a great option.
Do biodegradable pads exist?
Yes, they do!
And they’re not just better for the environment, they’re also usually better for your body.
Conventional pads are often made with plastic and other synthetic materials that can irritate your skin and contribute to toxic waste.
Biodegradable pads, on the other hand, are made with natural materials like cotton and bamboo that are gentle on your skin and break down quicker in the environment, so they won’t end up in landfills for hundreds of years, like traditional pads.
Are bamboo pads biodegradable?
Yes, most bamboo pads are biodegradable.
But it depends on which other materials they’ve been made with ‒ some others might not biodegrade.
So it’s worth checking with the manufacturer that their bamboo pads are completely biodegradable.
How many years does it take for a pad to decompose?
Conventional sanitary pads can take up to 500 to 800 years to decompose in a landfill.
But it’s not just how long it takes for them to decompose that’s an environmental issue ‒ it’s also about what chemicals they release as they break down.
There are a few chemicals that can be found in traditional sanitary pads ‒ and other disposable period products, like tampons ‒ that could leach into the environment:
- Dioxins: Usually used in the bleaching process, dioxins have been linked to cancer, reproductive problems, and developmental disorders ‒ while the amount of dioxins in individual pads and tampons are usually too low to cause issues when they’re used, there’s a chance that higher levels in soil or water (especially near landfills) could lead to health issues for humans and wildlife.
- Phthalates: These can be found in period products as fragrances, pad adhesive, or as part of the manufacturing process. Simply put, phthalates aren’t great. They could be linked to reproductive issues (like PCOS and endometriosis), cancer, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.
- Parabens: Used as antimicrobials (to stop bacteria, fungi, and viruses from growing) as part of the manufacturing process. As this study explains, “parabens are easily absorbed by the human body”, and have been linked to thyroid issues, hormone-related cancers, obesity, and reproductive issues.
This isn’t a complete list ‒ but it’s also worth knowing that the amount of these chemicals in period products can vary depending on the brand and type of product.
And as people learn more about harmful chemicals, more brands are phasing them out.
So it’s well worth doing your research before picking your perfect period product.
How do I dispose of sanitary pads?
There are a few ways to throw away your sanitary pads once you’ve used them, but it depends on what type they are.
How to dispose of non-biodegradable sanitary pads?
- Wrap your used pad in toilet paper or a paper towel. To prevent anything from leaking out.
- Place the wrapped pad in a small, sealed bag. To keep the smell contained and prevent the pad from coming into contact with other people or animals ‒ after all, it’s technically a biohazard.
- Dispose of the bag in the trash. If you are using a public trash can, make sure to seal the bag tightly so that it does not leak. The same goes when disposing in outside sanitary bins.
How to dispose of biodegradable sanitary pads?
- Wrap your used biodegradable pad in toilet paper or a paper towel. Again, to stop anything from leaking out.
- (Optional) Put the pad in a biodegradable bag. Like a food waste bag, to keep any smells at bay and stop animals from getting to it.
- Put the pad in your compost bin. If you don’t have a compost bin, you can also bury the bag in your garden or put it in your normal waste (but not recycling).
How not to dispose of sanitary pads
- Don’t flush sanitary pads down the toilet. This can clog your pipes and pollute the environment.
- Don’t put sanitary pads in the recycling bin. They can’t be recycled and can contaminate other recyclable materials.
- Don’t burn sanitary pads. This can release harmful fumes into the air, even if they are biodegradable.
Can you compost period blood?
Yes, you can compost period blood!
In fact, it’s a great way to dispose of it in an eco-friendly way.
When you compost period blood, it’s broken down by microorganisms and converted into nutrient-rich compost that can be used to fertilize plants.
So if you’re composting your biodegradable tampons or pads, don’t fret about your period blood.
But it’s not really a good idea to just put your period blood directly onto plants in your garden ‒ or wherever you are!
There are a few reasons for this ‒ it can attract unwanted pests (like insects and animals), it’s a biohazard, and it can smell… funky.
If you’re keen to try, you can dilute your period blood from your menstrual cup into at least 2 liters of water, as soon as possible from changing your menstrual cup.
It’s also not recommended to store period blood, as it can become a biohazard and harbor bacteria.
Are tampons better for the environment than pads?
Honestly, it’s hard to say.
Tampons are smaller than pads, so they take up less space in landfills, but they also often come with plastic applicators, which adds to their environmental impact.
But if you use tampons that don’t come with plastic applicators, they can have an eco edge on conventional pads.
If you’re keen to use tampons, but you’re worried about the impact on the environment, Daye’s organic tampons might be the answer.
They’re made from 100% certified organic unbleached cotton (plastic-free!), come with sugarcane applicators and flushable (non-toxic) wrappers, and they’re biodegradable and compostable (decomposing within 12 weeks) ‒ wins all ‘round!
What is the eco alternative to tampons?
There are a few eco-alternatives to conventional tampons: menstrual cups, period underwear, and reusable sanitary pads.
- Menstrual cups: These are inserted into the vagina as a literal ‘cup’ for your menstrual blood, can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time, and they’re reusable for up to 10 years.
- Period underwear or period pants: If you’re not keen on tampons or cups, period pants can be a great option. You just wear them like underwear whenever you need them, and wash them after use with cold water.
- Reusable cloth sanitary pads: Made from absorbent fabric and reusable, so they can save you money and reduce waste. After using them, simply wash them with fragrance-free soap and dry them fully before using again. They can feel bulky, so it’s worth shopping around to find the right fit for you.
So there you have it ‒ your comprehensive guide to sustainable period products.
Whether you’re looking for a reusable option, a natural option, or an eco-friendly option, there’s something for everyone.
And remember, you don’t have to go all-in on sustainable period products right away.
You can start by making small changes, like switching to a reusable pad or cup for your heaviest days.
And if you want to chat with other women about sustainable period product options or reviews, why not join the conversation on Peanut?
Now go forth and make the world a cleaner, greener place, one period at a time!in