Words by: Emily Maguire
When you think of becoming more environmentally conscious in your day-to-day routine, you imagine buying a reusable coffee cup or bringing oyur own bags to the supermarket. In the past couple of years, I have started wondering where else I could be making more sustainable choices. I only associated environmental period products with a menstrual cup and honestly, it seemed complicated to use and to carry around so I went off the idea of even trying. After looking into the impact of period waste, I realised I couldn't give up just because one product didn't convince me, and with more information and recommendations, hopefully more people can start their sustainable period journey.
The period plastic waste problem
I have only recently understood the huge impact of period product plastic waste. It's no surprise; you're so focused on getting through the cramps and PMS whilst still living your life, who has the time to consider where a tampon or pad ends up after you throw it away? Well, the situation is worrying to say the least. City to Sea is a great resource to understand the impact od plastic waste via period products, as well as plastic pollution in general. I was shocked when I learnt that 2.5 million tampons and 1.4 million pads are flushed down the toilet every day in the UK, and that a pack of 14 pads contains the same amount of plastic as 5 carrier bags. So, I may have a reusable bag for the supermarket, but I was still contributing to problems, like the 200,000 tonnes of menstrual waste that filled UK landfills in 2018. These stats were the motivation to find period alternatives that I felt happier using.
Just like The Conscious Beauty Co offers a new path with body and hair products that avoid needless plastic pollution, period products have the same. Plus, many options align with The Conscious Beauty Co's mission to reuse where possible rather than only focusing on recycling, taking sustainability a step further. I now know that DAME makes a reusable tampon applicator; ohne has created a 100% organic, biodegradable tampon (with optional cardboard applicators) subscription; and brands like Thinx have created period underwear that you wash and reuse. All of these companies have great statistics and social media platforms to break down why they make their products and information to help you decide what's right for you. I'll admit, I was definitely a little embarrassed when I used the DAME waste calculator and found out that I throw away almost 10,000 tampon applicators a year!
Save your money!
Of course I care about saving the planet, but also about saving money! Thinking about my 10,000 applicators thrown away every year as just one person, that's a lot of money spent on something that goes on to have a negative impact on the environment. Bloody Good Period has calculated that the average lifetime cost of menstruating is £4,800. With thousands at stake, if I could redirect some of that to more fun purchases like holidays or meals out and invest in reusable products at the same time, it's a win-win for me!
It's a journey...
I still don't have a perfect sustainable period solution. Convenience, emergencies and life getting in the way has meant it's been a slow burn on getting to where I want to be. However, just like I came across The Conscious Beauty Co and started making different choices, the same thing will happen for my period purchases. Despite recommendations from friends, menstrual cups still scare me, but that doesn't matter because I now know about the variety of options there are! Hopefully by sharing some information, more people can hop on board the period sustainability journey, whether it's the first thing you're trying or part of an established commitment to sustainable living.