How to Practice Sustainability on Your Period
By: Kate McCallum
Sustainability has emerged at the forefront of our societal values. As we see the undeniable impacts of climate change, we look for ways to make a difference in our everyday lives. Looking beyond obvious strategies, such as limiting travel by car and eating less red meat, as consumers, we have the power to encourage sustainable practices by large corporations - simply by opting to purchase sustainable products.
While we know sustainable consumption choices are important, these purchases are often limited by the price and nature of the product. We see these barriers in the feminine hygiene industry, as conventional period products are disposable in nature and non-biodegradable. In fact, the conventional period product can take up to 500 years to degrade. Moreover, if sustainable period products do exist, they carry the pink tax on top of a green premium, resulting in expensive, routine purchases.
Considering these barriers, you are likely wondering how to practice sustainability on your period in an affordable way? Luckily, Apricotton has outlined many effective approaches to minimizing your burden on the environment, without breaking the bank.
1. Choose Reusable Products
The average menstruator will use 15,000 disposable period products in their lifetime, resulting in a staggering 5.8 billion tampons ending up in US landfills alone. The single most effective way to eliminate this waste is by shifting away from single use period products, and towards reusable alternatives, including;
- Menstrual Cups
- Reusable Period Underwear
- Cloth Menstrual Pads
Not only will these products exponentially decrease your individual carbon footprint, but upfront investments in these high quality products will cut your expenses in the long-run - a win-win scenario.
2. Reduce Plastic Waste
It is important to recognize that plastic waste is a key driver of the climate crisis - as a species, we produce 300 million tonnes of plastic annually. Although reusable products are the most sustainable approach to menstruation, many women are stationary in their preferences, and find it difficult to forego pads and tampons altogether. If you prefer single use period products, do your best to practice consumption habits that effectively minimize plastic waste, such as;
- Purchasing tampons without applicators
- Using pads and tampons made of bamboo, cellulose or other plant-based fibers
- Opting for tampons and pads with minimal to no packaging
These minimalistic products can often be found at a discounted price - complementing a want for sustainability while remaining price conscious.
3. Don’t Flush Period Products!
If you do decide that reusable period products are not for you, make sure that you are appropriately disposing of your single use products in a garbage. Tampons and menstrual pads should not be flushed down toilets under any circumstances. Not only does this harmful practice strain our sewage system, but it results in a massive outpour of plastic products into the world's oceans. An estimated 2 billion menstrual items are flushed down Britain's toilets every year, with nearly 5 pieces of sanitary waste found per 100 meters of beaches cleaned. Such a simple change in your feminine hygiene routine can salvage so many ecosystems, and support your personal sustainability mission.
4. Use a period tracking app
A commonly overlooked but highly effective technique to a sustainable period is using period tracking apps. By knowing precisely when your period will come, when it will end and how heavy your flow is likely to be, you can plan to use the necessary amount and style of period product. By doing so, you eliminate the risk of using products when they are unneeded - being conservative with your single-use plastic purchases.
5. Spread the word!
Now that you’re equipped with a variety of strategies to practice sustainability while menstruating, you can maximize your positive impact by sharing these techniques with friends and family. It is clear that period practices and environmental degradation do not go hand in hand - you are able to practice environmental stewardship at a reasonable price!
About the Author
Kate is a business student at Western University, who enjoys hiking and canoeing in her free time. As the oldest of three sisters, Kate has a passion for sharing advice, and helping girls build a sense of self-confidence.