Zero waste in menstrual protection: what for?

Zero Waste has emerged as a trend these last years and we can enjoy seeing this new movement that has for main goal to limit our environmental impact and to rethink our ways of living. It remains interesting to try understanding it better and see to what extent it really is legitimate and even essential! Especially for products that are conventionally perceived as disposable : menstrual protections being one of them. Today periods are still considered to be dirty, and we are disgusted by the washable and reusable alternatives. But these new  products enable to understand better what periods are instead of promptly throw our used pads in the trashcan hoping no one will see them. Obviously no one is asking you to show your used washable pad to everyone, but it is a good thing to realize that this object is not unclean. The perception we have of periods is societal and not natural.

Hoping you are all ready to adopt these new products, it is still useful to know some facts about the how disposable and reusable sanitary pads impact the environment and our health. The disposable products are produced of a lot of different raw materials that are more or less toxic, and huge amounts are needed to supply the planetary need. If major brands answer the question of the composition of the pads by this superbly worrying sentence “Your trust, our most precious ingredient”, studies have been able to reveal certain components.

The first raw material used to make those products is cotton. And you are going to say:” you too “, and you are right. But, for the reusable pad, the cotton lasts for 200 uses, while the one in the mainstream industry is only used once. Cotton is produced with pesticides that can still be there when the disposable pad is used (since the product is not prewashed). In those pesticides, there are glyphosate defined as “probably carcinogenic” by the WHO and contained in Monsanto products. The cotton is also one of the most water consuming plants: 5 400 to 19 000 litres of water are necessary to produce 1 kg of cotton. Then, by looking through the fibres, there is a “super absorbing” gel made with polyacylate cristals and viscose which is an artificial material coming from wood cellulose. There is also aluminium, alcohol, perfume that causes irritations and hydrocarbons. At last comes the most stupid ingredient: dioxin. Why stupid? Because just like for ham where they add a carcinogenic ingredient for it to be pink, pads and tampons are whitened with dioxin, because white is supposed to be cleaner. This component is a toxic substance created by the combustion of fossil materials. One thing that is noteworthy is that it could be one of the causes explaining endometriosis, hormonal changes, fertility problems, and perhaps uterus cancers. The specificity of this compound is that it is present in very small quantities that are not dangerous as such, but become so after prolonged exposure.

To dig deeper into the “fun facts” (if we can call them that), do you know how to have an image of  what it actually means the 300 kg per women in a life time translated in annual consumption of pads and tampons? Well, we could  each year take all the disposable menstrual protections used in the world, and create a bridge from the earth to the moon. Pretty much waste, don’t you think?  Even more knowing that a disposable pad takes 500 years to decompose (we advise you to go on this link, it is pretty dizzying). The advantage of washable pads (and of our BeautyWaps of course) is that they reduce the produced waste per woman with 99% compared to disposable protections.

So go ahead, start your new life with zero waste periods with washable pads and/or with the cup! You’ll see, it’s actually very comfortable and it’s pretty cool


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