Sex & Gynae

Period pollution: how to reduce your plastic footprint

February 16th 2018 / Ayesha Muttucumaru Google+ Ayesha Muttucumaru / 0 comment

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Reusable sanitary products have come leaps and bounds - the days of bulky nappies and uncomfortable rags are long behind us. Meet the ones set to make their mark

The microbeads ban and the introduction of free water refill points around the country are helping us make significant strides towards reducing our sizeable plastic footprint. Scrubs and plastic bottles have shared their fair brunt of the blame, but what about sanitary products? The average menstrual pad contains as much plastic as four carrier bags* and it’s estimated that around 7 billion plastic tampon applicators are thrown away every year globally** - they’re shocking stats and considering that a woman menstruates for about 40 years of her life (which roughly equates to a usage of around 11,000 tampons), it seems our monthly bleeds could definitely benefit from going green for the good of the environment and our bank accounts too.

The availability of eco-friendlier products on our supermarket shelves leaves much to be desired. The marked absence of reusables is something that hasn’t escaped our notice. It’s still a niche category despite the increased attention plastic pollution has received as of late. However, more brands are taking note and launching products to meet the growing demand for more environmentally-friendly alternatives.

Ranging from reusable tampon applicators to period pants and menstrual cups, they can take a bit of getting used to however, knowing that they’ll help reduce the amount of plastic that makes its way into our oceans and that they could save you money in the long run will certainly make the prospect of ditching your single-use pads and applicators all the more appealing.

Here are four reusable sanitary products that even Mother Nature would be happy to use.

The reusable tampon applicator: Dame D, from £18

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A British start-up, organic tampon company Dame’s key aims are a) to address the amount of plastic waste the industry produces and b) to create stylish, practical products that show that periods are not something to be hidden or embarrassed about - two objectives reflected brilliantly by the brand’s new launch, a reusable, self-cleaning tampon applicator.

Made of medical grade mediprene with antimicrobial tech to keep it hygienic, it’s BPA-free, designed to fit every size of tampon and is also heat resistant to allow for easy sterilisation too. It also comes with some handy extras to keep it clean, amply filled and travel friendly - a pouch, a tin and a pack of Dame organic cotton tampons.

You can back their campaign here on Kickstarter.com, a crowdfunding platform for supporting do-good projects, you can sign up to Dame’s newsletter here to be notified when it arrives.

The period pants: Thinx, from $24

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Periods are often pants’ worst enemy however, these innovative reusable undergarments from across the pond help make unwanted stains a thing of the past. With six different styles to choose from to best suit your activity and whatever you pop on top, there’s something for everybody.

They’re antimicrobial, moisture-wicking and built for both function and fashion. The bestselling Hiphugger style’s designed to hold up to two regular tampons’ worth of blood as is its Hi-waist and Boyshort cuts. Its Sport style can hold up to 1½ tampons’ worth of blood, its Cheeky style, 1, and for the VPL-conscious, its Thong style can hold up to half. The brand also has a reusable re.t.a tampon applicator in its repertoire (which is made of medical-grade silicone - here’s a useful demo showing how it works) and there's also activewear available too.

Buy online (international shipping is available).

MORE GLOSS: Plastic packaging - how beauty brands are stepping up for the planet

The menstrual cup: Intimina Lily Cup One, £22

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Lightweight, compact and designed to fold as thin as a tampon and sit in a similar position to collect blood rather than absorb it, the Lily Cup is built for comfort and convenience. Made from medical-grade silicone and designed to fit any body shape, it can be washed by hand and discreetly packed into its storage case for on the go practicality.

Buy online.

The reusable pads: No More Taboo Washable Pads, from £6

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These reusable pads carry the City to Sea seal of approval and last up to three years. Available in a range of different absorbancies and sizes, they work in the same way as disposable sanitary towels but instead of throwing them in the bin, you wash them. This involves soaking them in cold water first and then hand washing them or putting them in your washing machine either on their own or with the rest of your laundry. Made up of several absorbent layers (ranging from fleece to organic cotton, bamboo fibre to towelling), and containing a breathable layer underneath, it offers a fit for a variety of different flows.

Buy online.

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*City to Sea

**wearedame.co

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