The Environmental Impact of Pads & Tampons

Let’s all be honest with each other. Pads and tampons are probably two items that you probably haven’t given a lot of thought to. And you may have given even less thought to what happens to them once you’ve used them and they’re thrown into the bin. Out of sight out of mind, right?

The average Australian woman disposes of 10,000 to 12,000 used sanitary products in their lifetime. Add to that staggering number the fact that synthetic pads and tampons can take around 500 to 800 years to biodegrade, and we’ve got ourselves quite the environmental crisis.

The social taboos surrounding menstruation can lead some women to taking a ‘quick fix’ approach to selecting what products they use during their period, quickly grabbing whatever catches their eye on the supermarket shelf and rushing through the self-serve check out to avoid anyone ever knowing that you might be having a completely normal and healthy bodily function. Throwing aside any perceived shame you might have about bleeding and taking just a little time to think more critically about the products you use when Aunt Flow comes a-knocking can have a crucially positive impact on the kind of waste you produce.

Most tampons are made of a mix of cotton and synthetic rayon and in Australia, companies are not legally required to disclose what they are made of at all. This is because the Therapeutic Goods Administration classifies tampons as medical devices, due to the fact that they are inserted into the body. This also means that you usually won’t see materials listed on tampon boxes.

Similar to tampons, in Australia producers of pads aren’t obligated to tell you what they’re made of, though they’re typically comprised of cotton, plastics and other forms of synthetics. More popular than tampons, women in Australia alone go through 500 million pads yearly.

So where do these 800 million used sanitary products end up each year? Mostly in landfill. Pads and tampons are responsible for about 200,000 tonnes of waste per year – most of which contains plastic.

Then there’s the secondary issue of flushing used products down the toilet, with nearly 0.5% of all marine plastics debris being tampon applicators. Flushing tampons, their wrappers, applicators or any other non-biodegradable products can cause pipes to flood and sewage systems to flood, with Sydney Water estimated to have spent millions each year removing these items from their systems.       

  So how can you make your period more eco-friendly? Switch to organic cotton, of course! At Taboo Sanitary products we’ve ensured that our range of organic cotton pads and tampons have had minimal impact on the environment before they even get to you. From the selection of cardboard packaging, to use the use of pesticide free organic cotton, to the hydroelectric factory our products are made in. Girl, we’ve thought long and hard about this. As a company, Taboo is always looking for ways to be more sustainable and kinder to the environment. If you’d like to find out more about how Taboo’s pads and tampons are made and the benefits of organic cotton on your body and the environment, please click here.

Words by Alicia Franceschini

Alicia Franceschini

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