According to Emagazine.com, a 1998 study conducted by waste consultant Franklin Associates found that 6.5 billion tampons and 13.5 billion sanitary pads, plus their packaging, were making their way into U.S. landfills or sewer systems each year.
It's not a pretty sight to think of all those pads and tampons piled in landfills and bobbing along in the ocean. That's right – the oceans we swim in. Over a two-year period in 1998 and 1999, the non-profit Ocean Conservancy collected more than 170,000 tampon applicators along American coastlines. (Glad we didn't have that job!) It's clear that just one woman greening her period can have a huge impact. So what are the alternatives?
These products are better for the environment because they're free of the toxic dioxins used in chlorine bleaching, and they're made from organic cotton that has not been sprayed with pesticides.
Pediatrician and green living authority Dr. Alan Greene says, “People often forget – even women often forget – that the delicate lining of the vagina is another route where chemicals from the environment can get inside the body. So, as a pediatrician, I know that people are choosing organic or cotton or natural diapers, eco-diapers. That's great for their babies... but they forget, when those kids become young women – become adults – to choose organic cotton feminine care products. ”
Women who have made the switch to reusable cloth pads say they are comfortable, practical, eco-friendly, and save them money. True, they do require a little more dirty work, as you have to soak them in a bucket or the sink, then wash them with your laundry. But for those willing to make the commitment, the positive environmental impact and savings are significant. Popular options include Glad Rags, Luna Pads, or Sckoon reusable cloth menstrual pads.
You might be surprised to know that menstrual cups have been around since the 1930s. Their recent rise in popularity has a lot to do with their environmentally friendly nature, as well as their convenience.
Menstrual cups are inserted entirely inside the vagina, and can be worn for up to 12 hours between changes. They are designed to be washed and reused, and some cups, like the Softcup, can even be worn during sex. Women who use menstrual cups rave about their satisfaction. In the June 2011 FLOW study (we're not kidding – it stands for Finding Lasting Options for Women), 91 percent of the 110 women who participated said they would continue to use the cup and would recommend the cup to others.
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