How environmentally friendly is your period? It may not have been a thought you've had before, but it's worth contemplating. Most of us use pads or tampons, which have been around in various forms for centuries, throughout our lives. But tampon disposal can have a serious, and scary, environmental impact. Luckily, though, there are ways to improve the sustainability of your period, while still using your preferred product.
According to the Association of Reproductive Health Care Professionals, people who menstruate will have, on average, 450 periods over their lifetime, from our menarche (first period) to the beginning of menopause. That number differs widely, because menstruation doesn't come as one-size-fits-all; but every period has an environmental impact. Pads, tampons and the products that come with them, from packaging to liners, aren't necessarily recyclable, and that's proving to be a bit of an environmental challenge.
Part of the problem is a consumerist culture around health products. “As consumers, we are constantly encouraged to buy more products, and convinced that those we already own should be replaced by ‘new’ and ‘improved’ items," Kath Clements, Campaigns and Marketing Manager for Mooncup, tells Bustle. But that may not be the best approach when it comes to your period. "Just one of us uses on average 11,000 throwaway tampons and pads in a lifetime," Clements says. And that means that our monthly visitor can have a big environmental toll. Here are some of the numbers behind our period, as well as the ways to make it better.