Side note: this post is aimed more towards women, but if it interests you as a male reader read on by all means!
Within the last few years I have drastically changed my products. My efforts have been seen everywhere from my face wash to my toilet bowl cleaner. I have switched up nearly everything except the two products I have used monthly since I was 14; it is my tampons and pads that have eluded me. That was until a few months ago.
What type of alternatives do we really need?
For one, we need organic alternatives, which are becoming easier and easier to find in local grocery stores. Cotton, often the main ingredient used to make up pads and tampons may be concerning if not organic. “More pesticides are used on cotton crops than any other crop in the world – a full 25% of all pesticides used are used on cotton crops.” Pesticides can effect your nervous system, endocrine (hormonal) system, and can be carcinogenic.
Secondly, we need a better environmental choice for our monthly cycle. Today’s woman is estimated to use about 12,000 tampons in her lifetime. That is a lot of tampons going into the landfill from just us women.
We also need healthy choices that are free from harmful chemicals such as fragrances. These chemicals that are up close and personal to us could have deleterious effects on our bodies. A chemical such as fragrance has the potential to irritate, disrupt your natural hormones, and to be poisonous to the nerves in your body.
Tampax is a very common product that most women have come to know as the standard company for feminine care. Tampax ingredients for the: Tampax Pearl Plastic, Compak Pearl, and Tampax Cardboard Flushable are cotton, rayon, polyester, polypropylene, polyethylene, and fiber finishes. The scented tampons will include fragrance. Rayon, polyester, polypropylene, polyethylene, fiber finishes, and fragrance? They fit all that into a cotton feminine product that goes where…?
In comparison a better tampon, like Seventh Generation ingredients are: Certified organic cotton. That’s all!
“Plainer is just better when it comes to tampons,” says Pam Chandler, a family nurse practitioner and certified nurse midwife who practices at the holistic clinic Wellspring for Women in Boulder, Colo. Chandler encourages patients to use nonchlorine-bleached, 100 percent-organic cotton tampons and pads. “We’re lucky to have healthier choices,” she says.
What are some alternatives that caught my eye?
Natracare Organic and Biodegradable Cotton Tampons
Seventh Generation Organic Cotton Tampons
Another alternative is a reusable “tampon” such as the Mooncup or the Diva Cup. This method uses a medical grade silicone that you can use for up to 10 years. Instead of absorbing your cycle it will collect it.To clean it off you can wash it out in the sink or dump it out in the toilet. Before putting it away in storage it is boiled in order to keep it clean. It is definitely a good alternative to tossing 12,000 menstrual products in the garbage.
Are these alternatives available in your local store? If not, what do you use?
About pesticides? Check out the California Department of Pesticide Regulation-What are the potential effects of pesticides?
About tampons? Information about tampon and tampon ingredients can be found in this Ecologist article.
About the environmental impact of tampons? Check out The Chic Ecologist and The Environmental Impact of Everything.