You might think that having a period doesn't have much to do with the environment. This is likely because of the shame and stigma still associated with having a period, which means we don't talk about it as much as we should. In Scotland, we are leading the way in free period products and provision. The most popular period products in use in Scotland are disposable pads and tampons. Some disposable pads can take up to 500 years to break down. Worse, still - many people flush their period products (you should never do this!) - this can cause problems in the sewage system and many of these products wash up in Scottish beaches, where they pollute the shore and can be eaten by animals.
427.5 million disposable products are used in Scotland every year with research estimating that around 220,000 tampons and 122,000 pads are flushed down the toilet in Scotland every day. In Scotland, the Women’s Environmental Network stated that in 2010 there were 23 disposable pads and nine plastic tampon applicators per kilometre of beach. Scotland is also thought to be the most affected country by period product related waste problems.
You can use a menstrual cup, disc, reusable pads, or period pants. Even if you don't feel confident using these all of the time, every use helps cut your period carbon footprint! However, remember that by using only reusables, you could cut the carbon footprint of your period products by 90%!
Period pants and pads can last wash after wash. Menstrual cups and discs, when properly taken care of can be worn up to 12 hours and can last up to 10 years!
There are lots of sustainable options out there - take the time to learn about how to use them and don't be discouraged if you try one and it doesn't work for you. There are over 40 menstrual cups, for example, on the market in the UK. There are also different types of reusable pads and period pants with different textures, feels and absorbencies.
Be conscious and aware of how your disposable period products are packaged, whether they contain any other added nasties (like bleach) and where the ingredients (such as cotton) are sourced and whether there is any unnecessary added plastic. You can also now buy a reusable cardboard or plastic applicator for tampons, helping you to cut down on plastic waste.
Enough said! If you are in a toilet that doesn't have a bin for period products, wrap it in toilet roll and take it with you in your pocket or bag.