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Plastic Periods

Plastic periods. Why should you care what you put in your pants?

  • If you menstruate an average of 5 days per month for 40 years, that’s 6.5 years of menstruating in your lifetime!
  • Your skin can absorb good and bad things from the environment, clothing, and lotions. Especially skin around your vulva and in your vagina!
  • It’s important to be aware of your impact on the environment. You can be kind to yourself and the environment even while you bleed!

At Lilypads we want you to have a healthy period whatever period product you chose.

Period Product Impact on Health

Like many topics linked to periods and reproductive health more research is needed. However, we do know:

  • Chlorine-bleaching processes make products carcinogenic.
    • Carcinogenic means it has the potential to cause cancer!
    • In the 1990’s, women demanded sanitary protection producers to stop using chlorine-bleaching process (which is carcinogenic) (Bobel & Lorber, 2010, p. 58) (Weiss-Wolf, 2017)
    • Learn more about this on the Women’s Environmental Network (WEN) website.
  • Plastic tampon applicators contain “endocrine disrupting phthalates”. (Weiss-Wolf, 2017, p. 244)
    • This can cause hormonal and endocrine problems

Knowing these health risks has lead to:

  • In 1989, Natracare company started making non-chlorine-bleached pads and tampons, focused on health of women and the effect on the environment in production and at disposal (Bobel & Lorber, 2010, p. 59)
  • To this day, people are fighting to encourage period product companies to list the ingredients on product boxes or online,

Plastic Period Product Impact on Environment

  • Individual Use Estimates:
    • If a menstruator uses five tampons a day for five days over thirty-eight menstruating years, they will consume and dispose of approximately 11,400 items! (Bobel & Lorber, 2010, p. 63)
    • Therefore, it is estimated that an average menstruator throws away 250 to 300 pounds of tampons, pads, and applicators in a single lifetime! (Bobel & Lorber, 2010, p. 63).
  • Population Estimates:
    • SEAC (Student Environmental Action Coalition) claims that annually more than twelve billion pads and seven million tampons are used once and thrown away, clogging our overburdened landfill sites (Bobel & Lorber, 2010, p. 63)
  • Finally, the impact on Environment. So where does all that waste go?
    • Clogging landfills and Coastal areas
    • Ocean Conservancy volunteers collected 27,938 used tampons and applicators on our world’s beaches on a single day (International Coastal Cleanup, 2013).
  • Harmful to local plants and animals during production and disposal
    • Pesticides used on non-organic cottons harm plants and animals
    • Studies have found that disposable pads may contain chemicals that may delay decomposition, meaning it could have negative impacts on local plants and animals (Lynch, 1996, p. 11)

Single-Use Period Products that are safe for you and the environment:

Reusable Period Product Options:

Lilypads, of course! Lilypads offers reusable cloth pads that are great to use on their own or as backup for a menstrual cup
Cloth pads can last 2 years (or longer!) with proper care
Check out our website Reusable sanitary pads: comfortable and discreet. Unlimited by periods 

  • Reusable Period Underwear is another great option for an external period protection, can be used on their own or as backup for a menstrual cup
    • Period underwear can last 2 years (or longer!) with proper care
    • Check out companies like The Original Period & Leak Proof Underwear | Modibodi UK and Period Pants | Leak Proof Period Underwear | WUKA®

  • Finally, Menstrual Cups are great options for people who prefer internal protection

So why do we have links to other companies? Because we know that each period is different, people prefer different products, and accessibility may influence what you can use. Therefore, we want you to choose the products that are best for your body and life. We hope you can feel comfortable in your choices.

Check out our other blogs related to this topic or interested in trying our pads? Click here.


Why include sources? So that you know where I get this information from and have a starting point to do your own research!

Bobel, C., & Lorber, J. (2010). New Blood : Third-Wave Feminism and the Politics of Menstruation. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Lynch, P. (1996). Menstrual waste in the backcountry (Science for Conservation No. 35). Wellington, New Zealand: Department of Conservation.

Weiss-Wolf, J. (2017). Period Gone Public: Taking a Stand for Menstrual Equity. New York: Arcade Publishing.

Written by: Morgan Ludington

Edited by: Lilypads

January 21, 2021


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