The Problem with Disposable Period Products...
Updated: Aug 7
Two years ago, I started using reusable period products. Since then, I have not looked back. I started because I wanted to save money, then I realised how much more comfortable they are and how absorbent they are. Suddenly my monthly period experience went from a dreaded horror to a pleasant acceptable one. I won’t lie and say it’s magical and pain free, I still cramp terribly and the back pain is excruciating, but at least I don’t get rashes on my vagina anymore, or leak over my clothes and bed sheets.
Honestly girls, reusable period products are a game changer. And for so many reasons.
A disposable pad and tampon take over 500 years to decompose. A woman will use up to 16,800 disposable pads and tampons in her lifetime. Think about the plastic waste that contributes to our already heavily polluted plastic earth.
The process of producing these disposables pollutes water, air and habitats.
We may think our choices are so miniscule and unnoticeable in the world, but small changes in our lifestyle make a huge impact on the waste we contribute.
How many women can you educate on the impact of disposable pads and tampons? I can already think of 15 when I think about the women in my household, female friends and colleagues. Just sharing and educating a fraction of these women, would have a significant positive impact on the environment, for us, and future generations.
Disposable pads and tampons contain many toxic chemicals and plastics. These block the airflow to our vagina causing us to sweat in our delicate area and soak up the natural moisture of our vaginas, resulting in rashes.
The production of cotton for pads and tampons is one of the most toxic processes, using 20 % of the world’s pesticides and herbicides, not to the mention the bleach. These chemicals remain in the environment, impacting the health of the workers on the production farms, the local population and our bodies, where it remains for years.
That’s toxic chemicals in our vagina!
Yes, you pay more for reusables upfront, BUT they last longer than a few hours. They last years. I have had mine for two years and they are good as new. They can last even longer, on average 5-8 years. Obviously, it depends how you look after them but that is still SO much better than disposable products. Over 5 years the average woman can spend £640 on disposables. A set of reusable pads costs £14.99 and can last more than 5 years.
And did you know, all these years, you have been paying Tampon Tax? I didn’t, until very recently and I was not a happy bunny.
Tampon tax is all the revenue earned from the VAT, Value added Tax, charge applied to the sale of sanitary products. So we get TAXED for having a period. Apparently the government thinks our periods are a luxury. To put this in perspective, things like postage stamps and cycle helmets are exempt from VAT, but the periods which we are born with and have no control over are taxed.
It was previously 20%, then reduced to 5% in 2000. When the UK leaves the EU in December 2020, the chancellor has plans to announce to abolish the tampon tax to 0% which will take effect from January 2021.
The financial aspects also translate into Period Poverty. One in ten teenage girls, has at some point been unable to afford sanitary products. One in seven, has had to borrow tampons or towels from a friend because they couldn’t afford their own. A survey asked 2134 women how much they spent on their period a month. The answer was approximately £13 a month.
Reusable pads are a one off cost and last years!
Comfort and Ease
Reusables are soft and comfy. They don’t move around and end up sticking to parts of yourself you’d rather they not stick to.
They don’t leak. They’re easy to wash, don’t stain and don’t smell unlike a full disposable pad.
Reusable pads come in different sizes and absorbencies so you can be kitted out for your entire period experience.
Small pads are a replacement for liners. These liners are ideal for when you’re not sure if you’re going to come on, you’re very light, or have some mid-menstrual discharge.
Larger longer pads are for heavier flow days.
Period underwear for daytime and nightwear, you decide, depending on your flow.
Simply use, rinse the blood and throw into the washing machine.
If you are looking for an alternative to a tampon, then the menstrual cup is perfect. It’s made from silicone and works similarly to a tampon, except it collects the blood in a cup, and when you remove it, pour the blood down the toilet, rinse and reuse.
All of these products are easy to use, sanitary, better for your vagina, your bank balance and the environment.
Let’s end period poverty together - switch from disposables to reusables. Spread the word, educate and encourage each other to do the same.
It’s a no brainer - try reusable period products and turn your problem period into period positivity!
About the Author
Hi I’m Hiral. I am a dentist, a professional actress and now I’m on a mission to educate the world on sustainable living. That might sound like a lot, but I love all of it. I am passionate about a lot of things, but the past few years, I felt strongly about doing my bit for the world, in many aspects, and encouraging people around me to do the same.
I created Unspoiled, and together we are trying to educate and encourage people to use sustainable, eco-friendly products.