Monday, April 26, 2010

What's Going On: Eco-Postive Period!

There are so many reasons to love being a Woman, but admittedly, there is that one dreaded time of the month when being a woman is much less appealing. The bloating, the crampiness, the scary mood-swings that turn us into scary Godzilla like creatures that terrify those around us. Yes, certainly granted, most of us have anything but a "Happy Period". But on top of this, you could be exposing your privates to all sorts of dangers each month (and I'm not just talking about TSS). And most women probably don't consider the environmental impact.

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Most tampons are made from pesticide-heavy cotton or cotton-rayon (a synthetic fiber made from wood pulp) blend and bleached so they're super white and "clean" looking. So what's so bad you may ask?

Dioxin: a by-product in the bleaching and manufacturing processes. Not only is it an environmental pollutant, but it is also a known carcinogen. It is toxic to the immune and reproductive systems, and has been linked to endometriosis and lower sperm count in men.

In the mid-1990s, tampon manufacturers did make a switch to a "elemental chlorine-free bleaching" process which is said to "significantly minimize the potential for dioxin formation". Anyone else catch the word "minimize" in there? The FDA admits that the process could still "theoretically generate dioxins at extremely low levels." This matters when they also say that even low levels of dioxin may lead to development and immune problems and birth defects.

Rayon: this fiber contributes to the danger of tampons and adds to the dangers of Dioxin. Why? Because Rayon is highly absorbent--which is why they use it in tampons to begin with. Meaning, when fibers from the tampons are left behind in your vagina (which usually occurs), it creates a breeding ground for the bacteria and also holds the Dioxin inside your body. Rayon also stays in a lot longer than it would with just cotton tampons, which is also the reason why TSS (toxic shock syndrome) occurs.

Pesticides: Most tampons and pads are not organic (surprise!) so then comes the whole toxic bath of pesticides and chemicals used to produce the fiber. Tampax does, however, claim to test its cotton for detectable levels of pesticides. So you could be safe from this one, but chances are there are still trace amounts.

Now consider this; a woman typically uses more than 11, 500 tampons in her lifetime, and the vaginal area is one of the most absorptive parts of a woman's body. So you can bet that all those chemicals add up!

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Every year, about 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons are used and end up in the trash in the US alone.

Tampon applicators often end up back onto shores and streams. They've even been found in the stomachs of birds and wildlife, along with other plastics.


Remember that lovely Rayon I was telling you about? Well, it is made ultra-absorbant in a fairly toxic chemical process. And that Dioxin? Well it is now being found in our soil, air, and water.

Your privates may be free of the Pesticides produced from Cotton, but what about the planet? Cotton is grown with toxic herbicides, fungicides, and other fun pesticides, many of which are carcinogenic and extremely toxic, therefore cause damage to the planet and to wildlife.

Drugstore brands are also chocked full of plastics with synthetic latex wings, polyethylene dry-weave layers in pads, and that "silky" coating on tampons. Not to mention those applicators and nasty PVC wrappers that come with pads.

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The good news is that there are lots of options for the health of yourself and the planet, depending on your commitment level.


If you must use drugstore-brand products then cardboard applicators are better than plastic, while applicator-free are obviously best. But you should be buying 100% certified Organic non-chlorine-bleached cotton tampons. They're free of synthetic and chemical additives, and come with or without cardboard applicators. And for those skeptics, they work just as well as mainstream brands ;). They also lower chances of TSS.


Again, Organic chlorine-free pads and panty-liners are available. Natracare even uses biodegradable plant-based bioplastic in place of petroleum plastic as a barrier layer to keep the pads from leaking.

You can now find a few different companies that carry Organic Tampons and Pads. My personal favorite is Natracare and you can find them at most health-food stores as well as lots of grocery stores here in Canada (and probably in other countries as well ~_^).

Greenest Options:

Organic or not, tampons and pads still end up in the landfill creating more waste. If you're super committed to the well-being of the planet then these next options are for you.

Cloth Pads: Reusable pads obviously create less waste. Wash them and reuse. Pretty simple. I'm personally going to have to make this transition for nighttime, unfortunately for the moment I can't get around washing them at the laundromat :p. Crafty girls can make them yourselves, otherwise there are lots of brands available, such as, Goddess Moon, Moonwit, Many Moons, and Luna Pads. And I'm sure you can find lots on Etsy as well. ^_^

Sea-Sponges: I know, this sounded strange to me too! They work just as well as tampons and are a green, reusable alternative. Their use is essentially the same, except you rinse them out once saturated and re-insert. Want to know more? Check out Gladrags:

Reusable Cups: another green & reusable alternative to Tampons. Same idea; pop inside and empty 2-4 times a day. This is my next trial, as, I have to admit, I was a little weary about the whole idea. However, women who use them, swear by them! So what have I got to lose, except the well-being of our planet? ~_^ The silicone-based Diva-Cup is probably the most popular. Just be weary of some drugstore posers (like Instead), which looks like a reusable cup but you throw it out after one use....what's the point??

Check out:

Luna Pads:


And remember, Ladies, have a Happy Period ~_^ ....ok, well at least have a green, healthy period.

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  1. I've been using the diva cup for a couple of years now. It has changed my LIFE and the way I think about that time of the month. I don't need boxes of pads and tampons under my bathroom sink. I can always have it on me. I haven't bought a feminine hygeine product in years! It's amazingly freeing and you immediately start to think about all that packaging and waste that you're no longer going through every month. There's a little "learning curve" but it is totally worth it!

  2. Hmm I saw the Diva Cup at the drugstore the other day and I was wondering if I should try it out!

  3. Noelle, thank you for sharing!!!! You will have to let us know about this "learning curve" to help us make the switch :) Its definitely on my to buy list for my next period haha. :)

  4. I'd love to hear more about the "learning curve" to help make a switch too!

    Bianca, thanks for this post! A few months ago I went on a "quest" to find out info on what's in tampons and alternatives I could use and such. I just didn't have the time to invest to get all the info I was looking for. I will def. be buying organic tampons from now on and am curious about the Diva Cup now! :)

    Thanks so much!

  5. very welcome Jackie! Glad I can help, that's what this blog is here for :)

    if there are any other topics you want to know about just give me a shout, I'm always looking for new things to research :D

  6. Thank you for this post! Out of a desire to not contribute more waste, I ordered a diva cup... About three years ago. It's much nicer than tampons! Once you learn how to properly insert it, it's a breeze.

  7. totally agree!! it just makes so much more sense and they really are so easy to use and convenient :)


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