My first blog of the year, 2019 – The Year of Eco Living was all about our household goal to live in a more environmentally friendly way, and some of the changes I was hoping we would make.
We have been making small changes over the past few years, but it’s something we feel very passionate about, especially since becoming parents.
Once change I brought into place last year, was to reduce the plastic sanitary products I use.
I wasn’t even aware this was a thing, but then we had our baby and started using cloth nappies. Then one day I realised that actually, the materials don’t differ between disposable nappies, and disposable sanitary products.
According to Natracare conventional sanitary products contain up to 90% plastic, making them horrendous for the environment. Over 45 billion plastic sanitary products are sent to landfills, or are diposed of in various other harmful ways. Those that don’t make it this far either end up in the oceans or on the beach, or in other places they don’t belong endagering and harming wildlife, and the environment they live in.
Not only do these products not break down once disposed of, but they are also non-flushable, and despite this information being readily available to anyone and everyone, they still get flushed, clogging drainage systems, and again meaning they end up in the ocean.
The Green Shopper states that on average, a woman will use around 11, 000 sanitary products in her life time. That’s not taking into account those that need to use extra due to heavy or irregular periods.
A lot of these products that are used are not only bad for the environment, but they contain chemicals that are harmful to those of us that use them, and in some cases these chemicals aren’t even disclosed. On top of these, a lot of products now have scents added to them, and other chemicals or materials that are use to aid absorption.
Of course, we want our sanitary products to be absorbant. But why on earth do they have scents added to them? Who thought one day that periods make us smell bad? I’m sorry, but I’ve never walked past another woman and thought “She smells like she’s on her period”.
On top of all of this, they’re pretty expensive. They might not always seem it at the time, at least for those that have regular, light to medium periods, you might not notice a box of pads or tampons once a month, or even every other month. But for those that need to buy extra boxes, they will notice the difference. And if you add it up over time, it builds up.
Take me for example. On average, I don’t really need to buy extra products. I will buy a pack of large pads, a pack of regular and pack of pantyliners, and they will last me 2 – 3 months. Most women start their periods at around the age of 12, and will go through menopause at around 55. I started my periods when I was 10, and nearly 18 years later, I of course haven’t gone through menopause yet. I don’t know when that will happen, but There is apparently no correlation between the age you start your periods and the age you stop. Assuming the age you stop is still around the same, that gives me 2 extra years on top of the average amount. With that in mind, I would potentially use 11,511 in my lifetime.
(That calculation was the average amount used per in the life time of a woman, 11,000 which is about 255 per year, times the approximate years I will have my period for which is around 45.)
On average, that works out at around 21 sanitary products a month. Of course these are all averages. In monetary terms, they say sanitiary products cost approximately £128 per year. It obviously depends on the brand you use, but I’m not about to sit and work out the three different boxes I usually buy. That means I might spend around £5760 in my life time. On average. And that I’ve already spent £2304.
After years of hating how uncomfortable I found these products, and how much I hated the smell, it then horrified me further to think that these products were sitting in landfills, just piling up. It disgusted me, in all honesty.
It was for these reasons that last year, I switched to CSPs. Cloth Sanitary Products. I was bit nervous, because I didn’t know how easy it would be, or how comfortable they would be, but I eventually took that plunge and I have not regretted it.
I bought these EarthWise and Bloom and Nora starter packs from the BabiPur website. Whilst they are expensive as a one off purchase, for the amount of time I’ve been using them, they have nearly paid for themselves. Plus they are so comfortable. Most of the time I can’t feel them. They absorb more than I ever would have thought as well, and they’re incredibly easy to clean. At home, I rinse them under cold water and pop them into a wet bag that I hang on the back of the bathroom door. Out and about, I just pop them into a small wet bag in my hand bag. At the end of my period, I pop them in the wash with the cloth nappy load.
However, because I bought starter packs, they aren’t enough to cover a full cycle, so I have had to keep buying normal dispoables, something that I haven’t been happy about.
I don’t even need to do that anymore. I recently discovered TOTM. They offer products made from 100% organic cotton, they are biodegradable, and they use sustainable, natural products. They certified, and are cruelty free. I must admit, they aren’t as absorbant as some products I’ve used, but they are so much better for the environment.
It turns out there are lots of other brands you can buy that are dispoable, and environmental, so as far as pads go, I’ll never have to buy a sanitary product that will have such horrendous implications again.
I do feel I have room for improvement. I would like to add to my CSP stash. I’m also considering a menstrual cup. I really hate tampons, so a cup makes me very nervous. I know other women that have tried them, and have had no problems at all, so I’m going to do some research and give it a go!