What is zero-waste, you ask? It is, like the name very much suggests, a movement that aims to achieve no waste in daily life. Is this easy? Well, it’s not easy if you try to do it by yourself, however, if we, humans, unite and act together, we’re confident one day we can have an (almost) zero-waste society.
A zero-waste period is pretty much a period that generates net zero waste. This might be a bit more difficult, but remember, every single little step towards a more sustainable world counts.
Zero-waste periods: the closer, the better
Imagine this: the average woman menstruates for about 40 years, close to 13 times a year, for 5 days each cycle. Now multiply by the bare minimum of 6 tampons, pads or liners each day of the cycle. We worked out the math and it comes up to a total of 15,600 sanitary products used in a lifetime, at the very least. This easily doubles in cases of heavy flow, and quickly amounts to a few tonnes of rubbish per household. Now imagine the exorbitant amounts per city, per country, per continent… Got lost there? We did too.
The truth is European beaches are filling with plastic waste and sanitary products were in 2018 the fifth most common type of plastic waste to wash ashore. This is just not horrendous but very dangerous to our ecosystems, biodiversity and general water quality.
But, if you’re feeling period shame right about now, let us stop you right there! Your period is not polluting the oceans and the earth – the current solutions are! There is nothing a woman can do about her period; it is as natural as eating and breathing. That being said, what we, women of today, can do is change our habits and start being more conscious about the human impact on the planet – yes, even down to the “little” things.
And, there will always be a bit of waste associated with our periods because, of course, all the menstrual blood and fluids have to go somewhere. The trick is what is that somewhere, and how do we treat it after it has served its purpose? Check out some tips to make your period the most zero-waste period as possible.
1. Use a menstrual cup
Menstrual cups are great! You just need to sterilise it, insert it with a bit of lubricant, empty and rinse and use again. However, not everyone is comfy using a menstrual cup, and that’s totally fine.
2. Wear reusable period undies
You must have heard of period undies, a new kind of extra-absorbent underwear that can be worn on period days, with no additional pad, tampon, or cup. This is a great way to have a zero-waste period, but it works best for people with lighter flows.
3. Choose cloth pads
Cloth pads were a thing in the past, and apparently are a thing now! They work just like normal pads, minus the plastic. The same advice stands, women with heavier flows might need additional protection.
4. Go 100% certified organic cotton
Using tampons is literally putting something inside our bodies, inside our vaginas, for a few hours a day, during our cycles. It is quite intimate if you think about it. As such, what do you want to put inside your body? Plastic? Toxins? Or rather 100% cotton only? And organic, of course. 100% organic cotton is just as good for your health as it is for the planet. And, pro tip: look for the certified organic cotton – this assures not only the cotton is really organic but that workers are being paid fair wages and treated justly.
5. Choose biodegradable
If there is one thing conventional disposable pads are not is biodegradable. Several layers of different plastics take decades to decompose, and even when they do, they leave out microplastics everywhere, polluting and destroying marine ecosystems. This can easily be avoided by using biodegradable pads and liners. As easy as that!
6. No more toxics
Synthetic fibres, chemical additives, fragrances, dyes, chlorine bleach, GMOs, pesticides, toxins, latex, formaldehyde… all these integrate the list of ingredients for conventional tampons, pads and panty liners – a list that is rarely made public. Using natural sanitary products is very important, as they’re free of chemicals and toxins and will almost always have a disclosed list of ingredients.
7. No plastic packaging
Honestly, plastic packaging is in the past. Gone and done. The new hot trend is corn starch film. Totally biodegradable and compostable! Can’t imagine? Clementine’s pads and panty liners’ wrappers are made of corn starch film – try some!
What are your tips to live a zero-waste life? Share your thoughts with us and take good care! Of yourself. Of our planet.