Why not just keep using pads and tampons?
March 08, 2019

Why not just keep using pads and tampons?

By Natalie Hobbs

Because they are filling up landfill, blocking toilets and polluting our oceans.

Women will use between 11,000 – 17,000 disposable sanitary pads and tampons in their lifetime. Every year, the resulting global impact is massive.

  • In the US, approx. 12 billion menstrual pads and 7 billion tampons go to landfill.1
  • An estimated 1.5 billion sanitary items are flushed down the toilet in the UK, ending up in the ocean.2
  • Every year India produces 9,000 tonnes of sanitary waste (432 million pads).3
  • In Australia, 18,000 tonnes of sanitary waste go to landfill (that’s 800 million pads/tampons).4 

Because they take forever to decompose – well, almost forever.

Pads take more than 500 years to decompose. That enormous amount of waste that is generated every year will be around for a lot longer than you and I. Every single disposable pad you’ve used will outlive your great-grandchildren and beyond. Tampons will decompose in approximately six months, however the plastic applicators will take 25 years.

Because we don’t know what is in these pads and tampons that we use in one of the most sensitive parts of our bodies.

Manufacturers of sanitary pads and tampons aren’t required to disclose what ingredients they use, due to their classification as medical devices and the like. After reading this article go and find your packets of pads and boxes of tampons and look for the ingredients. Chances are you won’t find anything. Or, if you do, it’ll be a short list of some ingredients that they ‘may’ contain.

Plastic, plastic, and more plastic

From the information that is publicly available, we know that pads are largely made of plastic – one menstrual pad is the equivalent of FOUR plastic bags. Based on the average number of pads women will use in their lifetime, that adds up to 67,200 plastic bags. For comparison, Let’s say you went grocery shopping every week from the age of 18 years to 70 years, and used 6 plastic bags each time. That adds up to 16,224 bags – just under a quarter of the equivalent plastic in our pads. As well as plastic, pads are likely to include bleached rayon, cotton (which would have been sprayed with pesticides), and sometimes fragrances (more chemicals).

If you are ready to reduce your waste footprint and switch to safer products (and save money!) consider the switch to sustainable products such as Modibodi. Be part of the movement to save the planet from waste whilst keeping your period stress free and mess free. Better for you. Better for the planet.


[1] https://www.harpersbazaar.com/culture/features/a10235656/menstrual-period-united-states/
[2] https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/21/flushing-tampons-toilet-blocks-drains-sanitary-products
[3] https://www.cleanindiajournal.com/sanitary-solutions-waste-disposal/
[4] http://www.sustainablemenstruationaustralia.com.au/greener.html