Few of us give our monthly period much thought or attention until it arrives. So much so, the majority of us, 67% to be specific, buy the same brand and type of sanitary product each and every month. Considering the British period product market was valued at £265.8m last year by research company Mintel, that’s impressive brand loyalty – or an indication of our total lack of interest in giving that time-of-the-month any more attention than is absolutely necessary.
Slowly but surely the tide is beginning to change though and a small amount of us are starting to consider our choice of sanitary products. This month, the BBC reported a decrease in the amount spent on tampons and towels. While some experts put this down to supermarket discounts and offers, others believe it could be part of a bigger movement championing reusable options. Most of us know at least one person who uses a moon cup each month rather than the more traditional options, but is it time we all made the move to reusable sanitary products?
How does our choice of sanitary products affect the environment?
There’s no doubt that our overuse of plastics and the impact that it’s having on the environment is huge news at the moment, and a topic that is unlikely to simmer down any time soon. Over the past couple of years, our awareness has shifted to the effect our disposable tampons and towels can have on the environment.
Most tampons are made from a blend of rayon, wood pulp, cotton and synthetic substances, although as they’re not deemed as a medical product manufacturers do not have to reveal the full list of ingredients. The average woman uses over 11,000 tampons in her lifetime, which is a considerable amount of plastic to end up in the landfill, or the sea.
What about our health?
Your vagina is one of the most absorbent areas of your body and some experts believe that due to the volume of tampons we use in our lifetime, the small amount of chemicals used in tampons could potentially cause health issues. However, there is currently no scientific research to back up this claim.
TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome) is regularly associated with tampons. However, TSS is caused by a build-up of bacteria and therefore, can occur if you’re using a moon cup or a tampon. If TSS is your biggest concern, then it’s worth opting for sanitary towels, and reusable ones if you want to tick the environmental box too.
What are your options?
Go organic: Even 100% cotton tampons will take a long time to decompose. However, brands such as NatraCare offer a variety of plastic-free sanitary towel and tampon options that are worth exploring if you want to make a more conscious choice without stepping too far out of your comfort zone.
Reusable options: From reusable tampon applicators and sanitary towels to moon cups, there are plenty of options for those wanting to seriously cut down their waste. Moon cups are the most common reusable sanitary products available and have seen a rise in popularity in recent years. Aside from the environmental benefits that the medical-grade silicone cup offers, there are also monetary gains to be made as the £21 purchase lasts for years.
While there’s very little doubt that reusable sanitary products is market that is going to continue to grow, it is a matter of personal preference and making the change from a throwaway tampon to a moon cup can take time. In terms of the money you’ll save in the long run though, it’s definitely worth considering…