I have tried to write this post about a hundred times over. Trying to find a hundred clever ways to simply say that Ten Things is taking a break. Its return was fleeting, but with coronavirus ravaging our communities, all news is quite rightly so focused on this immediate threat.
The environmental news that is coming out at the moment – celebrating reduced air pollution levels, cleaner water, and so forth because of coronavirus – makes me feel sick to my stomach. This isn’t the environmentalism I have committed my life to. Celebrating short-term environmental ‘wins’ at the expense of loss of human life across the globe should never be something we rejoice in, and not something I want to share here in this space. Before you share a ‘good news’ post about how clear the water in Venice is, please watch this for some perspective on this.
Whilst Ten Things is on a break, I do plan on trying to carry on the rest of the blog as normal the best I possibly can without being too tone-deaf. Like so many others, my day job is looking precarious. If you are in this situation or have already lost your job then my thoughts are very much with you.
I also don’t know about you, but to me, some normalcy in these tumultuous times feels welcome. Many (far too many) members of my family fall into the high-risk coronavirus category through a matter of age, or underlying health conditions, or both. We’re staying well away from them all, which is painful in itself, so some diversion from having to think about this helps, as does the wonder of video calls.
Blog posting will be light. Like all parents of school-aged children, my two children are at home from both school and nursery indefinitely, and so my partner and I are attempting some, shall we say loose, form of home-schooling with them whilst we both try and work our day jobs. I have no tips for this at the moment other than our expectations are low! I can write more about this in the coming weeks – what’s working for us and what’s not – if it’s of interest?
In the meantime please take care of yourselves, your loved ones and your communities, and please please stay home if you can to help stop the virus from spreading. For our super-hero NHS staff, and other key workers and front-line employees who can’t stay at home – thank you for all that you do to keep the rest of us healthy, safe, and fed. Staying at home is the very least that we can do to help you.
Conventional period products harbour a dirty secret. Did you know that the average sanitary towel is 90% plastic? This equates to the plastic equivalent of a shocking five plastic bags per packet of sanitary towels. If you consider that the average person who has a period uses over 11,000 disposable menstrual products in their lifetime, then this adds up to a whole lot of plastic. Many of these products wrongly get flushed down the toilet and end up damaging our oceans and the creatures that inhabit our seas.
When it comes to tampons, it also turns out that even ‘plant-based’ applicators, often sold by organic brands are not actually biodegradable, and therefore act exactly the same as regular oil-based plastics would after use.
What’s more, most conventional period products are packed with chemicals and fragrances that are also unkind to our skin, especially in the most sensitive areas.
With all of these issues, it’s understandable and also great news that interest in eco-friendly period products is growing. I’m personally a big fan of reusable period products – I’ve written before about eco-friendly period options, and encourage the use of reusables where possible. However, I’m also painfully aware that many reusable period options are not accessible to all – through cost aspects, limited sizing, lack of washing facilities, and through mobility and/or dexterity impairments.
Today I wanted to look at some of the accessibility problems of the most common reusable period protection options, before looking at what you can do if reusable options aren’t accessible to you, but you are still concerned about the environment.
The Accessibility Issue When It Comes to Reusable Period Protection
Menstrual cups aren’t suitable for everyone – particularly those with motor-skills impairment, as insertion and removal can be tricky. At around £20+ per cup, a cup can be a steep upfront investment for some, particularly if there is more than one householder requiring a cup.
Cleaning can be tricky – many people aren’t comfortable washing out their cups in public bathrooms. In order to keep your cup hygienic, you also have to boil it every month. This could be tricky in a shared household, let alone for those who don’t have access to basic facilities.
Cloth Sanitary Towels
Having a cloth sanitary towel stash can be expensive, with pads varying between around £5 and £12 per pad. I personally find having around 8 pads to be the optimum amount of pads required to comfortably see you through a cycle, and that upfront investment can be prohibitive.
Period pants are expensive. At around £30 a pair, the initial investment in purchasing multiple pairs could be cost-prohibitive. Price aside, period pants are available in limited styles, colours, and crucially limited sizes. Whilst new options and sizes are arriving as period pants are catching on, it’s still limited in comparison to standard underwear.
And moving away from price – having to change your pants in public toilets can also be problematic, particularly for those with reduced mobility levels. Remember you will have to remove your trousers/tights and shoes to be able to remove your pants, before getting dressed again in a small cubicle.
What If Reusable Period Options Are Inaccessible to Me?
If reusable period options aren’t accessible to you for whatever reason, then be assured that eco-friendly disposable period products (that aren’t greenwashing you) do exist! A good environmentally friendly option would be to choose a disposable brand that is certified organic, vegan, plastic-free and compostable, like Natracare.
Natracare’s period products are all plastic, perfume, dye, pesticide, and chlorine-free. Made from soft, breathable, natural materials, their pads, liners, and tampons are kind to you and kind to the environment. What’s more, their products are not tested on animals either for extra peace of mind.
Natracare is widely available on Amazon, Ocado, Waitrose, and in health food shops. Expecting to pay more for their products compared to their plastic counterparts? You’d be wrong: Natracare’s prices are comparable with big-name sanitary protection brands, with a box of 14 sanitary towels costing around £2.
The only plastic I could find was on the plastic wrapping of Natracare’s non-applicator tampons. I asked Natracare and they told me this is made from BPA-free, recyclable plastic. They use this to meet legal requirements as tampons are considered a medical device. Some other brands have begun switching to paper wrappings, but until Natracare are confident this is a safe and more sustainable option, they will keep using their current packaging.
I personally tested a few different products from the Natracare range out – their ultra super period pads and curved panty liners – and found their period products very comfortable and highly absorbent.2 Crucially they stayed in place too, which is always very important!
Beyond the basics, I felt reassured by the fact that Natracare’s products contain no nasties, such as chlorine and perfumes, in the very place where you don’t want anything nasty. The lack of plastic is a huge plus point too. Don’t just take my word for it – Ethical Consumer also recommend Natracare in the disposable tampons and pads category. Definitely one to check out!
I'm Wendy and welcome to Moral Fibres, a green lifestyle blog. I believe that sustainable living should be hip, not hippie. Here you'll find all sorts of easy hints and tips here for living a greener life that won't compromise your sense of style. As well as the blog I've also written a book on natural cleaning - Fresh Clean Home is out now! Want to know more? Check out the about page for more information or explore the archives using the category tabs above. Say hello at firstname.lastname@example.org. Moral Fibres is always free to read. If you want to support the site's running costs you can buy me a coffee.
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