Women’s health + environmental issues are two things I’m super passionate about, and they’re actually intimately intertwined. Specifically, the environmental impact of disposable period products is huge. Get this - on average, we get 450 periods in our lives. Let that settle in for a moment and give yourself + all the womxn in your life a little extra love for dealing with this bullshit. Butttt, I digress. Given that a typical period requires the use of about 20 tampons, that’s more than 9,000 tampons over the course of a lifetime. 9,000!!!! Not only is this a huge financial burden, but plastic applicators can’t be recycled, leading to massive waste that further burdens our planet.
As if these financial + environmental factors weren’t enough, mainstream period products are literally causing cancer and a host of other health complications. A couple of years ago, I listened to an episode of That’s So Retrograde with the founders of Lola (if you haven’t checked them out, they are doing such awesome things regarding accessibility of organic/non-toxic period products). I was shocked to hear them expose all the nasty shit that’s in conventional tampons. A brief + fucked up summary:
Dioxins - carcinogenic endocrine disruptors that damage our reproductive + immune systems
Volatile Organic Compounds - associated with kidney, liver + nervous system damage
Pesticides - I’m sorry, what?
PFAs - which increase our risk of thyroid dysfunction + immune system toxicity
Phthalates/Parabens/BPA - which increase our risk of breast cancer, endometriosis, fertility problems, inflammation, preeclampsia + miscarriage
Because our vaginas are highly absorptive, these unwanted chemicals/toxins are released directly into the bloodstream. Like, how are more people not talking about this!?
And what can we do about it? First and foremost, more womxn need to be educated on what exactly is in their period products and how this is impacting their overall health. Knowledge is power, baby. Have conversations with your female-identifying friends, be vocal on social media, do your own research. Empower yourself + others to make informed decisions about this stuff because it MATTERS. Second, explore non-toxic and sustainable options. Lola is an amazing place to go for more traditional (but organic + non-toxic) period products. This change is vastly beneficial for our health, but it also doesn’t address the issue of sustainability. Hear me out on this one - at first, I was totally freaked out by the idea of reusable period products. But after realizing how much of an impact my tampon use was having on the environment, I decided to give the cup a try. Not only are these low maintenance (you can leave it in for up to 12 hours), but they also save you money + reduce soooo much waste. It’s a bit of a learning curve at first, but so worth it. If you’re interested in learning more, Saalt has some really practical + empowering resources about cup use. And if the cup ain't for you (totally fair), look into options from Thinx or Knix.
Bottom line - be aware, do your research, and make informed decisions about your precious bod. We know there is never a one-size-fits-all approach, so do you boo. Happy bleeding :) <3