Three Reasons to Switch to Sustainable and Natural Feminine Care Products and the Options Available
There are many benefits to switching from tampons and pads to more sustainable and natural feminine care products. Some of the benefits include: reduced exposure to harmful toxins and chemicals, reducing your contributions to dangerous landfill waste, and lower costs. Tampons and pads are the most popular feminine care products, but there are many alternative products that are better for your health, wallet, and the environment.
When I decided to get rid of toxins in my life I had to think about every aspect of my life from what I was eating, wearing, and yes even the products I used when I have my period. Your skin is the largest and thinnest organ in your body, therefore it is highly permeable especially the skin in and around the vaginal area. The vaginal area tissues are also more hydrated and more permeable than other skin, meaning this area of the body is potentially more vulnerable to exposure to toxic chemicals and irritants. Less than one-tenth of an inch separates your body from potential toxins. Toxins and chemicals on your skin are absorbed straight into your bloodstream and goes directly into delicate organs, which makes what we put on our skin incredibly important.
So what are we putting in our body every month? Generally, tampons are blends of cotton and rayon, along with synthetic fibers, but each manufacturer's products are different. According to a groundbreaking scientific report on feminine hygiene products by Women’s Voices for the Earth, hazardous ingredients in tampons may include: dioxins (a known carcinogen) and furans (from the chlorine bleaching process), pesticide residues and unknown fragrance chemicals. Exposure concerns from these toxins include cancer, reproductive harm, endocrine disruption, and allergic rash. During use, tampons are in direct contact with your vaginal wall and leave behind potentially harmful fibers. Generally, pads are blends of rayon, vicose, and cellulose wood fluff pulp. Hazardous ingredients in pads may include dioxins and furans, pesticide residues, unknown fragrance chemicals, and adhesive chemicals such as methyldibromo glutaronitrile. Exposure concerns from these toxins include cancer, reproductive harm, endocrine disruption, and allergic rash - Women’s Voices for the Earth. During use, pads come in direct contact with vulvar skin. The chemicals that may be infused in the pad are concerning because of the long exposures to these chemicals in a sensitive and highly permeable area. Tampons and pads are regulated by the Food & Drug Administration as medical devices. Unlike cosmetics, medical devices lack any government requirement to disclose ingredients to the consumer. This makes it nearly impossible for consumers to avoid chemicals of concern found in these products. FDA guidance for the marketing of tampons recommends that tampons be “free of 2,3,7,8- tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin(TCDD)/2,3,7,8-tetrachlorofuran dioxin (TCDF) and any pesticide and herbicide residues.” Unfortunately, this recommendation is not mandatory, and testing results reveal that both dioxins and pesticide residue are found in tampons - Women’s Voices for the Earth. The good news is that all of these toxins and chemicals can be avoided by switching to one of the many natural and sustainable options.
Money tends to be a motivating factor for some people. Below is a breakdown of the money you will spend on the feminine care products you will use throughout you entire menstrual life cycle. The breakdown is for tampons, pads, and an alternative natural option. Think about this, on average women will menstruate for 40 years. If you use 20 tampons per cycle (240 tampons each year), you will use 9,600 tampons throughout your entire menstrual life cycle. A box containing 36 tampons costs $7 at Walgreens. So let’s do the math: 9,600 tampons throughout your life % 36 tampons per box = 267 boxes. 267 boxes X $7 per box = $1,869.00. Throughout your entire menstrual life cycle, you will spend approximately $1,869.00 on tampons. Let’s say you use pads. If you use 25 pads per cycle (300 pads each year), you will use 12,000 pads throughout your entire menstrual life cycle. A box containing 48 pads costs $7 at Walgreens. Again, let’s do the math: 12,000 pads throughout your life % 48 pads per box = 250 boxes. 250 boxes X $7 per box = $1,750.00. Throughout your entire menstrual life cycle, you will spend approximately $1,750.00 on pads. If you switch to a natural option, let’s say the Diva Cup you will save money. It is recommended you replace your Diva Cup once a year, however some women don't need to replace their cup for many years. To be on the safe side, we will estimate 1 cup per year. 1 cup per year X 40 years = 40 cups throughout your entire menstrual life. 40 cups X $40 per cup = $1,600. Throughout your entire menstrual life cycle you will spend approximately $ 1,600.00 on Diva Cups, however it will probably be even less money than is estimated.
Every month, women flush and throw away hundreds of disposable products and their packaging. These disposable tampons and pads are visible everywhere – in our bathroom garbage cans, our landfills and even washed up along our coastlines. Approximately 20 billion pads, tampons and applicators are dumped into North American landfills every year. Most of them contain chemicals, toxins, additives and synthetic materials. These chemicals end up leaking into nature, and polluting our rivers, lakes, and streams. The enormous amount of waste produced by tampons and pads isn’t the only issue. According to research by the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, the largest impact on climate change was caused by the processing of LDPE (low-density polyethylene, a thermoplastic made from the monomer ethylene) used in tampon applicators and the plastic back-strip of pads, and require high amounts of fossil fuel generated energy. There are many other sustainable options available that are healthier for the environment and your body!
Natural and Sustainable Feminine Care Products Options
I did a good amount of research online and asked friends about the products they've tried for their period. Initially I tried Thinx period-proof underwear, and since you have to change your underwear every 4- 6 hours on heavier days it didn't seem very realistic. I decided to try the Diva Cup and it is amazing! Currently, I use the Diva Cup for most of my period and Thinx period-proof underwear for the last day of my period, and I love it! The Diva Cup is a reusable cup that is placed into the vaginal canal and collects menstrual fluid, it can be used as an alternative to tampons and pads. Diva Cups are made from a special medical grade non-allergic silicone. Diva Cups are incredible because they don’t interfere with the vaginal environment, don’t leave behind fibers in your vaginal wall, don’t contain harmful chemicals and toxins, and are better for the environment and your wallet! The Diva Cup is SO comfortable, easy, safe, and convenient. The best part is that I only have to deal with my period twice a day, since it is safe to wear up to 12 hours! Initially, I was intimidated by the Diva Cup because it seemed so complicated to insert and take out, but it is actually really simple and it’s SO much more comfortable than using tampons or pads. I use Thinx period-proof underwear for the last day of my period, and it is amazing! Initially I thought Thinx might be like wearing a diaper, but they are actually super comfortable, stylish, and sleek! Thinx is really absorbent and leak-resistant! The Diva Cup and Thinx period-proof underwear work great for me, but I have provided more natural and sustainable options below!
Have you tried any of the options listed above, what did you think?