How manny tampons do Australian girls throw away a year?
When it comes to periods, us girls are far too busy getting pissed of with our own usually-immensely-ill-timed bleeding to focus on anything other than just getting through the week without ripping someone's head off or bleeding through our jeans. That's why when we found out the impact our tampons and pads have on the environment, we were shook.
Obviously, the first thing you need to be aware of is just how many people are on their periods at any given moment. Women start menstruating between the ages of 10 and 45 years old with each period lasting three to seven days (on average). This means, in total, a woman will spend about six-and-a-half years on their period.
And with Australia's fave tools to tackle their flow being pads and tampons, the average woman will use between 11,000 and 17,000 tampons in their lifetime — making up over 140kg of waste.
To get real ~visual~ about things, every woman chucks out around 22 disposable sanitary items per period (around one plastic bag per month) and that makes up one wheelie-bin worth of period products each and every year.
In some recent research, it was revealed just how much we spend on period products during our lifetime (and how long these items take to disappear enviro-wise).
We use a bog-standard sanitary pad we use over six-to-eight hours, but they take up to 500 years to decompose. A conventional tampon, which we use for a similar time frame, takes up to six months to decompose — and we spend over $2000 per year to get us through our periods when we use pads and/or tampons.
This means us I'm currently on about 11 wheelie-bins worth of sanitary items, which is a scary amount — and where do they go? Usually straight into landfill.
(Unless of course you're sneakily chucking them in the toilet. But please don't do that, because 75 per cent of blocked drains in Australia and New Zealand are caused by people dropping tampons and pads down the shitter.)
We know that sounds like a lot of money and time, and that's because it is. But there are alternatives that will leave you with more cash money and less earth-guilt.
Toxin-free, easy to use and eco-friendly: What's not to like about the Mooncup?
There are eco-friendly alternatives, however. The Moon cup is one of them. A silicone cup that collects menstrual blood, it's washable, reusable and about as green as you can get. It is growing popularity means it is no longer the preserve of hippy health shops. According to Mooncup, medical research dating back as far as 1918 has found that the pesticides used in growing the cotton for tampons, and the bleach to make them white, can be absorbed into the body.
That sounds Nasty!
Ever read the leaflet in your box of Tampon box? I have now and even it suggests using a pad instead of a tampon at least once a day. "You can also essentially eliminate the risk of menstrual TSS by not using tampons," it adds ominously.
The Moon cup, which has been around for around 70 years! I had no idea!!! It's that old!
In one form or another, has no history of TSS. It will, however, save you loads of money,
SHOW ME THE MONEY!
It last for years and take up hardly any room in your luggage. The $20 cups come in two sizes relating to age and whether you've had children or not. What, then, is not to like?
I have a couple of practices and while at first it seems alarmingly springy, within a very short time I'm whipping it in and out and feeling very proud of myself.
Then it was time to use it for real. And you know what? It was fine. More than fine, actually. It was really interesting. "Oh, so it's only that much blood and that consistency," I found myself musing. I even felt I'd been cheated of this information about what my body produces, all these years
The Mooncup's capacity is much greater than the most super-absorbent tampon so it can even cope on those days when you need 12 hours in bed. A couple of months down the line it has reduced the headstress I'd been suffering brought on by what I thought were heavy periods. In fact, I realise now, it was just the tampon's inability to cope, rather than my body's fault, and I haven't used a single back-up liner. Yes, there's a bit of faffing about with washing when you come to empty it every six or eight hours but you don't even need to do that. If you haven't any water to hand a quick wipe with loo roll is OK.
Removal, on the other hand, involves some fairly undignified suction noises. But that's a very small price to pay for something that significantly contributes to reducing your ecological footprint and makes the whole period palaver more tolerable.
The average woman uses....
Approximately 20 pads/tampons per month, equating to 240 per year which over the average lifespan of a menstruating female (approximately 40 years worth of periods) gives us the grand total of 9,600 feminine hygiene products used during one womans lifetime.* Now multiply that by the 3.5 billion women on the planet and we have a considerable amount of potentially avoidable waste!
Whilst the disposal of the packaging and the actual products themselves contribute largely to the problem, when we take into account the whole lifecycle of the products, things really start to get interesting.
Firstly, we have the raw material extraction which involves the production of cotton (a very water intensive process) and plastics. The plastics used to wrap pads and tampons are known as low-density polyethylene, and these are made from oil. Not a good start.
Secondly, these plastics are long lasting and do not break down easily, and when they do they leach chemicals into the ground. After that we have to take into account transportation, those tampons didn't magically just show up in your handbag, they travelled a long distance to get to you!
And what about all those chemicals used to make tampons and pads? Yep, you need to think about them too. Dioxins (a known carcinogen), chlorines, rayon, plus the herbicides and pesticides that were used in the process of growing the cotton, are all part of the production process.**
Now, I don't about you, but none of those things sounds like they should be getting a green light near our bodies! Although they have been approved as being safe in the amount used per tampon/pad, that is assessing the levels of chemicals for ONE item, not the 10,000 of them used during your whole life. It is similar to examining the health effects of smoking just one cigarette!
retrieved from https://www.cosmopolitan.com.au/health-fitness/tampon-pad-period-waste-26166
Is there a solution? What can you do?
Well there is good news for those who dare. Menstrual cups.
Powerful Reason Why I made the Switch!
I didn't even buy mine my girlfriend Tara bought heaps of them! She's an environmental advocate like me! She said! OMG you have to try it! And I'm never going back!
She's been handing them out to all of our girlfriends! With hopes to help them to make the switch!
I remember staying at hers a month ago!
It happened just like this
HER: Have a moon Cup
ME: Ha-ha what!
HER: Honestly you need to try it!
ME: Hmm okay I've been a bit scared to try one, but I'll see how it goes!
HER: You'd be stupid not to try the moon cup! I've saved so much money!
ME: And its good for the environment! What's not to like about the moon cup!
HER: I'll never go back to tampons!
I haven't had my period yet this month but I'm looking forward to trying the moon cup!