A person with periods will use roughly 11,000 tampons in their lifetime. Worryingly brands making these products don’t legally have to disclose the ingredients. This means that many of them contain chemicals such as bleach (to get that white look) and are made from materials such as rayon (which is plastic) or cotton that has been produced using pesticides. On average there are 5 plastic bags worth of plastic in a pack of menstrual pads. When you think the vagina is the second most absorbent part of the body, that’s scary stuff.   

The good news is there are some simple things we can all do to ensure periods are sustainable.  

If you have a period: 

1) Put used menstrual products in the bin.

It costs a whopping £100m a year to filter out nasties like used tampons or pads that have been flushed down the toilet. Care about ocean plastic pollution? Not only is it costing us financially, but it has an environmental cost too. When flushed, these products can end up in our oceans harming marine life and contributing to microplastics. If you want a bit more privacy and have enough room, get a second bin with a lid which can be specifically used for used period products. Make sure to empty it regularly. 

2) If your current tampons and pads are cramping your style, switch to a certified organic alternative.

These are better for our bodies, use less water in their production, have the capacity to biodegrade and contain a lot fewer nasty chemicals and pesticides. Win, win win 

3) Try a reusable product like applicators, menstrual pants and menstrual cups.

Reusable applicators are great for people who don’t feel comfortable using non-applicator tampons. Want to ditch the waste entirely?  Menstrual cups and menstrual pants might feel a bit different at first but you’ll find them comfortable and easy to use.  All of these can be bought online and many are stocked in your local supermarket or pharmacy. The good news is these can also help you save money... one menstrual cup can last up to 10 years and period pants can last for 5 years. Whilst it may be a bit more expensive up front, you'll save money in the long run. You could save roughly £128 a year by switching to a reusable cup. No brainer!   

If you don’t have a period: 

1) Watch what you flush.

It’s not just period products that need to be put in the bin. Many wet wipes, makeup wipes, nappies and cotton buds contain plastics and can cause blockages when flushed down the toilet. Stick to flushing the three P’s; pee, paper and poo.   

2) Break the period taboo and get the period chat flowing.

Share the facts with your friends, family, colleagues, teachers, doctors, MPs and anyone else that will listen. 

3) Are your kids at school? Or perhaps you’re at school yourself?

Ask your school what period education they have and whether they’re considering sustainable options.   


Want to know more? 

Read: Harmful ingredients in period products  

Watch: How can you period help the planet? 

Listen: Get clued up on the past, present and future of period products with our What on Earth Sustainable Periods podcast  

See: What’s on this Environmenstrual Week