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  • Charlie Sandles

Why Non-Sustainable Period Products Should Remain a Thing of the Past

© Illustration by @goldenneedles

DAME, &sisters, Grace and Green; the leading brands dominating the sustainable future for period products.

Every industry has a dirty secret, and with plastic pollution climbing the rankings for most problematic environmental issues- securing its place as a hot topic on everyone’s lips- its inescapability is profound. Period products, seemingly a minor product in terms of everyday use amongst the population when compared to coffee cups or food containers, rank as the fifth most common waste product found on beaches. This alarming fact proves that the period industry has a problem with plastic and waste- a problem that many people are unaware exists to the extent to which it does.

City to Sea illustrates just how damaging period products are on our environment, exposing the reality of this industry and the need for change in attitude towards this waste. Frightening numbers reveal the extent to which the waste reaches; 2.5 million tampons, 1.4 million pads and 700’000 panty liners are flushed down the toilet in the United Kingdom ALONE per day. 200’000 tonnes of menstrual waste are sent to landfill each year in the UK and a big-brand pack of 14 menstrual pads contains the same amount of plastic as five carrier bags. It is easy to see how quickly the plastic consumption of each individual using single-use tampons and pads is, and the necessity for a change in mindset to occur.

This overwhelming plastic issue has inspired many brands to conceptualise a new way to provide menstrual protection whilst also demonstrating a conscious attitude towards protecting the environment. All with an innovative vision for the future of period products, these brands are supplying the products that are paving the new path to a more sustainable future.

On a mission to provide sustainable menstrual products that cause as little harm to the environment as possible’, Celine and Alec wanted to create a brand that addressed the need to make period products more sustainable and more accessible to women worldwide. It is an ongoing issue that the subject of menstruation is treated as taboo, and through their business, Celine and Alec endeavour to encourage the transparency of period conversation.

Hosting a variety of products, Dame offers sustainable alternatives for tampons, sanitary towels and panties. Made from medical- grade materials, the reusable tampon applicator is a sustainable alternative to the disposable plastic applicators commonly used by less sustainable brands. In addition, the applicator is infused with naturally occurring Sani Polymers which ensure it is kept antimicrobial, clean and safe for use. Offered as individuals or as part of a set, the reusable pads made from DAMEdry technology and bamboo fibres are soft, super-absorbent and odourless. Finally, although currently in production and development, the highly anticipated DAME panties will give customers flexible period-proof undies that can be washed and reused over and over.

© Courtesy of Dame

Claire and Lucy, masters behind &sisters, introduced the sustainable brand to introduce a model that provided a new kind of consciousness towards periods and sustainability. Committed to contributing to the fight against period poverty, 10% of &sisters’ profits are donated to support women’s health, education and economic empowerment worldwide.

Providing all the essentials for a woman’s period, &sisters has a wide variety of products, including the Nudie menstrual cup, pads, liners and tampons. Following Claire and Lucy’s ambition to ensure all women feel safe and comfortable during their period, &sisters offers individuals to curate customisable period care packs that can meet the particular needs of each woman. This includes a ‘my first-period pack’ for newly blossomed individuals, as well as a more paired backpack with panty liners for lighter, menopausal women, as an example. The Nudie period cup, made from biodegradable, soft, medical-grade silicone, offers a sustainable and reusable, mess-free option for all women- the different cup sizes and guide for which size is most appropriate for you makes the process direct and simple for all. The organic cotton and biodegradable biopolymer mix for pads ensures a kind on the body, kind on the planet ethos and is a great alternative for a sustainable, eco-friendly sanitary product.

© Courtesy of &sisters

Akin to &sisters, Grace and Green have a clear and concise vision- to encourage a consciousness for people and the planet, as well as committing efforts towards women’s health, the environment and tackling period poverty. Grace and Green offer a subscription service allowing individuals to curate their period essentials, including different types of period product and their absorbencies, and have it delivered to their door. Not only does this remove the hassle of a trip to the store- especially in these times of the pandemic- but it also ensures that you can purchase exactly what you want and need for the month.

The products available in the subscription service include a variety of different models of tampons or sanitary pads, from night and day models to applicator or non-applicator tampons. For those looking for menstrual cups, Grace and Green provide a selection of sizes, accommodating for women of all shapes and sizes, and offer the option for a translucent or rosewater coloured cup.

© Courtesy of Grace and Green

A Swedish brand, Intimina is committed to providing a wide variety of inclusive products that are dedicated to all aspects of women’s health. This selection of products offer appropriate protection for those starting their period for the first time through to those at the end of their period journey. In addition to their products, Intimina host a blog whereby period conversations are actively encouraged and take place; this safe space allowing people to share their stories, queries and experiences concerning their period or sexual and menstrual health aligns with Intimina’s mission to create an inclusive space for menstruation conversation.

The ZIGGY cup- a reusable menstrual cup that is composed of 100% medical-grade silicone- is a revolutionary product allowing individuals to have sex whilst staying protected on their period. Not only does this solve the issue of single-use sanitary products and condoms from reaching landfill, but also encourages the practice of safe-sex- winner!

© Courtesy of Intimina

Wear ‘Em Out, founded by Lauren, is one of the leading brands for reusable sanitary towels. Her mission is to encourage individuals to save money and the planet by adopting more sustainable practices- primarily through the use of eco-friendly menstruation product alternatives.

Available in four different sizes depending on the heaviness of your flow, Wear ‘Em Out boasts an impressive collection of reusable pads, including some collections with wild and colourful designs on them- making the whole ordeal a lot more fun! A variety of starter packs, including pads in varying sizes are available too, or there is a starter box catered for individuals new to the game. Each pad is composed of materials such as polyester, polyamide and organic cotton, making them safe and clean to wear, wash and reuse.

© Courtesy of Wear'EmOut

Exploiting a gap in the market, the flex menstrual disc was designed to respond to the need for a menstrual product that could fit women's bodies. The need for a comfortable, protective and safe product was widely recognised, and in response to this need, Lauren created the flex disc.

An alternative to Intimina’s ZIGGY cup, Flex is a disposable menstrual disc that is designed to fit the shape of each individual and can hold up to five tampons’ worth of fluid over a 12 hour period. Made from hypoallergenic, medical-grade polymer, the flex disc is silicone and latex-free, meaning that infections are unable to manifest, like with more traditional menstrual products. Due to its longevity in wear, the Flex disc creates 60% less waste than tampons, making it a more sustainable option for individuals. In addition, women are able to have safe sex whilst wearing the Flex disc during their monthly cycle.

© Courtesy of Flex

Why is the problem still so big then? Clearly, there are several brands demonstrating their commitment to saving the planet whilst offering safe, sustainable period products, so why can’t they all? It may be as a result of the lack of education around menstruation and the damaging effects both on the body and environment that traditional period products can- and do- inflict. Resources such as City to Sea’s ‘Rethink Periods’ campaign provides context surrounding the environmental and social issues attached to periods and is a free nationwide programme that can be used to educate individuals on the realities of the industry’s issue with plastic and period poverty. Periods shouldn’t be taboo- it’s 2021, after all, and we’ve definitely seen and heard worse than a woman menstruating.


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