Sustainability Tip: Menstrual Products Can Be Kinder, Non-Toxic and Less Costly to You and the Environment

Perhaps surprisingly, "Menstrual health and hygiene are intricately linked to environmental issues, climate change and sustainability," say Laura Del Duca and Carla Liera of the Stockholm Environment Institute. Credit: HerStory

By Alliance Communications Coordinator Amy Durr

Often still considered a taboo subject, menstruation generates tons of waste along with discrimination, shame and neglect. People who menstruate spend about 39 years of their lives on their cycle, using between 10,000 and 15,000 disposable menstrual products, according to the David Suzuki Foundation (DSF). Consider these little-known and somewhat alarming facts:

  • Disposable menstrual pads are 90% plastic
  • PFAS was found in 48% of sanitary pads, incontinence pads and panty liners and 22% of tampons, according to lab analyses
  • Microplastics from disposable menstrual products and their plastic packaging end up in waterwaysharming marine ecosystems and ocean biomes

Sustainable menstrual products such as reusable pads, menstrual discs and cups and menstrual underwear are widely available in more developed countries.” They may cost more up front, but over the long-term reusable menstrual products will save you money,” according to DSF.

Intrigued? Confused? Find out Which Sustainable Period Product Is Right For You. One last great reminder from DSF: “Switching from disposable menstrual products to reusables isn’t easy or practical for everyone. Menstrual health and hygiene practices are deeply personal and influenced by many factors. Do what you can, with what you have.”

Many menstruators, including myself, struggle in many different ways to deal with this life-giving biological process, and yet we hold back (are held back?) from talking about it. And it’s a challenging topic for most men as well. This is our first foray in addressing this complex and emotionally-loaded subject. We welcome your feedback, thoughts on what you have found works and doesn’t, and whether or not you’d like us to cover some of the other important aspects of menstruation:

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