We’ve written about the importance of choosing sustainable products in every aspect of our lifestyle, including menstruation. In this article we’d like to answer the question Why?
We don’t want to be biased and we’ll address the positive sides of using disposable pads first- they are easily available, you can find them in most of the shops and they’re cheap. But have you asked youself how are the companies maintaining these prices so low? Like, for example, in Bulgaria, you can buy a pack of disposable pads for 1.20 Euros.
Are the consumers winners or losers in this situation? Are we getting a cheap, good quality product or are we sacrificing our health because of ignorance?
We’ll leave this answer to you by simply stating some facts. Let’s start with the composition of disposable pads. Have you ever wondered what are they made of? That’s kind of hard to answer nowadays, the Democratic Representative Carolyn Maloney of New York has introduced legislationnine times since 1997 that would require manufacturers to be more transparent and disclose the complete makeup of tampons, pads and other feminine hygiene products but her bill has failed to move (Kounang, 2015).
After extensive research on the matter we discovered that one disposable period pad contains the plastic needed for the manufacturing of four plastic bags (Eco Femme, 2016). Which means that only one period pad will take up to 800 years to decompose in landfill and the average woman uses up to 17,000 pads in her lifetime, so imagine the environmental damage which only one woman can do by not being conscious of the consequences of her choices (Collective Evolution, 2016).
Moreover, have you ever wondered how the disposable pads maintain their white color? Well, that might come a little shocking but they’re not sterilised and are often bleached using chlorine which produces dioxins (Eco Femme, 2016). These same dioxins can lead to cancer, reproductive, developmental, immunological and even glandular disorders and by using disposable pads, women are even more exposed to them because of the nature of the vaginal tissue (Collective Evolution, 2016).
“Vaginal tissue isn’t like other skin. It’s covered in mucous membranes, it’s very permeable. It’s a direct route to your reproductive organs. We need to be really careful of these products” (Scranton, Women’s Voices for the Earth 2015 cited by Kounang, 2015).
And that’s the health side of the argument, now let’s look into the financial one. Have you ever wondered why we don’t see any commercials about the alternatives to disposable products such as cloth pads, cups, sponges. Well, although disposable products are cheap, reusable ones are much more reliable and cheaper in the long run (Eco Femme’s pads, for example, can be used for up to 5 years if properly taken care of).
Let’s do the maths. The average pack of disposable pads contains around 10 pads and the average woman uses two packs every month. So, even here in Bulgaria, which is one of the countries with the lowest living standard in the EU, this costs 2.40 Euros per month, which makes it 28.8 Euros per year and 144 Euros for 5 years.
Now let’s compare that to the prices of reusable pads. Again, how many reusable pads one needs is very individual and depends on your flow and daily activities but to give you an idea – our Brand Manager Vera is using 3-4 reusable pads per period (from Eco Femme’s Day Pads and Day Pads +). So let’s see the numbers here. A Day Pad costs 6.96 Euros and a Day Pad + costs 7.53 Euros, let’s add these two together and multiply by 2, that makes 28.98 Euros, in total, for 5 years.Hence, you save 115.02 Euros (and this is a cost calculated taking into consideration the low prices of disposable pads here in Bulgaria, in other EU member states with higher living standards prices of a pack of disposable pads can go up to 4.50 Euros so reusable pads will save you even more money.
Let’s see that in a table (Prices indicated are in Euros):
For 5 years
Reusable ( 2 x Day Pad + 2 x Day Pad +)
And again, there is more to this story, we discussed the composition and the financial side, now let’s compare the absorbency rate of disposable pads to that of reusable. With Eco Femme’s reusable pads, one has the full information about the amount of layers of cotton that have been used for the manufacturing of the pad (3 for the Pantyliners, 5 for Day Pads, 6 for Day Pads + and 7 for Night Pads), hence one can choose what type of pad they need depending on their flow and daily activities. For example, Vera prefers the Day Pad + for the gym and cycling sessions as this pad’s absorbency is high and she can enjoy her activities without worrying whether her pads are going to let her down or not. With disposable pads, one has much less information about the absorbency of the pads, although they’re also defined into different categories such as pantyliners, regular and maxi but no one knows how much does a “maxi” actually absorb and what is it made of. And a simple question, whат is likely to absorb more cotton fabric or plastic?
We’d like to know what kind of pads do you use? Have you tried reusable ones? If yes, what’s your opinion of them?
Collective Evoluction, 2016. What all women need to know about pads & tampons. Collective Evolution [online] Available from: http://www.collective-evolution.com/2016/03/15/what-all-women-need-to-know-about-pads-tampons/ [Accessed 7 March 2017]
Eco Femme, 2016. Convenience at what cost? Eco Femme [online] Available from: https://ecofemme.org/convenience-at-what-cost/ [Accessed 7 March 2017]
Eco Femme, 2016. Disposable menstrual products- Convenience at what cost? (part 2) Eco Femme [online] Available from: https://ecofemme.org/convenience-cost-part-2/ [Accessed 7 March 2017]
Kounang, N., 2015. What’s in your pad or tampon? CNN [online] Available from: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/11/13/health/whats-in-your-pad-or-tampon/index.html [Accessed 7 March 2017]
Revolucia was created in 2017 with the aim of supporting the Zero Waste movement and distributing alternatives to non-recyclable disposable plastic products. We are supporters of the slow fashion and the conscious consumption. We love sharing our tips and experience through our Blog and talks.