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 a type of 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.   

Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to ensure you have a happier, more sustainable period – both for your body and the planet. 

1) Don't flush (your period products!)

The only thing we should be flushing down the loo are the three Ps (poo, pee and paper). It costs a whopping £100m a year to filter out nasties like used tampons or pads. 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 micro plastics. If you want a bit more privacy and have enough room, get a second bin with a lid which can be specifically for used period products. Just make sure to empty it regularly. 

If you don't have a period, avoid putting any wet wipes, makeup wipes, nappies, cotton buds etc down the toilet too, as they contain plastics and can cause blockages. 

2) Choose organic 

If you use tampons and pads, switch to certified organic ones. Just like organic fruit and veg, these are much better for our bodies as don't contain any pesticides, meaning they're also kinder to the farmers that produce them. Organic products use less water in their production, have the capacity to biodegrade and contain a lot fewer nasty chemicals. It's a win, win, win! 

3) Switch to reusables

We've all heard about reusable coffee cups, but have you heard about reusable tampon applicators? These are great for people who don’t feel comfortable using non-applicator tampons, and can be washed and reused again and again. You can also get hold of reusable pads which you pop in the washing machine after using them. Want to up the ante and 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 after a bit of getting used to. 

All of the above 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 upfront, you'll save money in the long run. You could save roughly £128 a year by switching to a menstrual cup. No brainer!   

4) Get the period chat flowing

Even though around 800 million people in the world are menstruating right now, we’re still not talking about it. Periods can make us feel uncomfortable, but talking about them shouldn’t. Shockingly, until 2019, periods weren't something you were taught about in school. Even now, the information primary and secondary school kids are given is minimal. Those that have a period have to rely on friends or family to guide them, and because they can seem a taboo topic, periods often get left behind in the environmental debate.

We want to normalise the conversation about periods, and encourage people to share knowledge on why they are an environmental issue. We're challenging everyone to share the facts with your friends, family, colleagues, teachers, doctors, MPs and anyone else that will listen. 

5) Donate to period poverty

Now you've got the basics covered, how can you do your bit in supporting those that may be less fortunate when it comes to periods? There are some incredible organisations that have been set up in a mission to support these groups of people. Period poverty in the UK may include those in refugee camps, those in low-income households, those that are homeless or those that have had a lack of education around periods, and feel uncomfortable going to school during their time of the month. Period., Bloody Good Period and Freedom for Girls are good places to start. 

Please bear in mind that these tips are just guidance, and you should always opt for what you feel most comfortable using, and what you are able to access. 

Want to know more? 

Read: Harmful ingredients in period products.

Watch: How can your 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.