Are We Really Talking About This?

It's Not Taboo but it is killing our planet

Are We Really Talking About This?
Photo by Gabrielle Rocha Rios on Unsplash

I am here to talk about something which isn’t exactly dinner table conversation yet it needs to be addressed. From my theme picture above you have already figured out my topic by now so there are no surprises here. The information that I am going to provide however may be surprising. My goal is to provide important information which is vital to every woman’s health and for the future sake of our environment.

So this past year I have gotten really conscious about how I handle my monthly flow, yes period, people! In retrospect, I really should have begun making greater effort towards change sooner but the important thing is that I am doing it now. I hope after reading this others will do the same. In a moment I am going to throw out some numbers and facts from research I have done. Some of it may be shocking or disturbing but its important information for women’s health and our environment. Fellas you are not excluded either. One day if not already, you will be asked by your partner to make a drug store run for pads or tampons. This information is important for everyone to know as it affects our planet.

On average every woman will spend about 2,280 days of their lives on their period. They will also use about 11,000 tampons or pads over the course of a lifetime. About 98% of Americans use disposable tampons and pads. None of these products are recyclable as they come into contact with human waste. This means all of this is being dumped into landfills. Worldwide annually it is estimated that 100 billion menstrual hygiene products are disposed of. Plastic does not biodegrade and when incineration is used it results in the release of toxic fumes including carbon dioxide. Essentially we are talking about 500 to 800 years for each product to completely decompose. This is very damaging to our planet as it takes centuries to completely breakdown and high amounts of fossil fuel to make. My research noted that about 15 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually which is equal to burning 35 million barrels of oil.

Another problem with feminine products is that people flush them down the toilet; pads, plastic applicators and all. This is a huge problem and an absolute very big no-no. When sewer pipes get clogged and untreated waste water overflows, it makes it way to creeks, streams and rivers. A very disturbing fact is that these products are one of the top items to wash up on our beaches. This is absolutely disgusting. I told you this is not dinner time conversation but it is very serious and needs to be discussed. Marine life is being affected, not to mention the potential for the spread of disease.

As if the previous information isn’t enough, there is the health risks associated with the use of disposable feminine products. For starters most of these products contain bleach. There is also non organic cotton, rayon, wood pulp or a combination off all of these elements in women’s personal care items. Next we have to factor in the pesticides and herbicides including Dioxin which is a likely carcinogen. The FDA claims the amount of Dioxin used is too low to cause harm to women, but it is a potential hazard considering the fact how close to the body these products are used. My research came from reading material dated in 2018 which stated that the FDA is not required to list ingredients on menstrual product packaging since it is considered a” medical device.” I decided to do some digging and in the picture below you will see a box of tampons by Tampax brand. There were ingredients listed so perhaps the required disclosure rules have change but do note the mention of the ingredient “Polyethylene” which is a toxic plastic.

As disturbing as all of the information is there are alternatives for women to consider. There are reusable period underwear and cloth pads which can simply be laundered. There is also something called a menstrual cup on the market which has actually been around for some time. It is beginning to get more attention as more women are gearing towards safer feminine hygiene. It may not be suitable to everyone’s taste but there is plenty of information and tutorials available for people who are interested. If one chooses to stick to the disposable option, there are organic options but I would suggest double checking to ensure there are no additives of nasty chemicals and pesticides.

While we are being all upfront and personal here, I should mention that I have completely stopped using tampons which I had used for over 30 years. I also only use organic cotton pads. It really is not that big of a deal to make a change that potentially can be better for my health. I also feel that it is very important for everyone to assume an important role in helping prevent further unnecessary dumping. If every single person that menstruated would adjust the products that they use and or the disposal of products in proper waste receptacles, instead of flushing; this would be a huge contribution in aiding the cleanup of our planet.

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Marilyn Glover
Marilyn Glover
Read next: The State
Marilyn Glover

I am a seasoned hospitality professional and aspiring writer. I especially love poetry and experimenting with different styles. My inspiration comes from personal life events and I am known to root for the "underdog." I am 48 years young.

See all posts by Marilyn Glover