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Going Green: Reusable Sanitary Protection

By: Sarah O'Hara BA (hons) - Updated: 20 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Protection Sanitary Tampons Green

For the vast majority of women, sanitary protection is a monthly necessity. Whether it comes in the form of tampons or sanitary towels, sanitary protection isn’t cheap. In the EU alone women spend over £2.5 billion a year on feminine hygiene products.

When we flush tampons and sanitary towels away or put them in the bin, they either end up in landfill or sometimes washed up on beaches, in the sea or blocking up sewage systems. According to the Women’s Environmental Network it can take up to six months for a tampon to biodegrade whereas a plastic-lined sanitary pad may never fully decompose. Given that the average women uses 17,000 items of disposable sanitary protection in her life, that’s a lot of waste.

There are now some green alternatives to disposable sanitary protection on the market in the form of re-usable sanitary products. The very idea of this type of product makes some people recoil in horror. However, these products are actually very hygienic and are kinder to the environment, the pocket and arguably the body.

Types of Re-Usable Sanitary Protection

There are alternatives to both tampons and sanitary pads.

There is now a wide range of washable and re-usable sanitary pads on the market. They are usually made from cloth, rather than plastic, and they can be soaked overnight and then just washed and dried like ordinary washing.

There are also a few alternatives to disposable tampons. The most famous items are the Mooncup and the DivaCup. These devices and others like them work by collecting menstrual blood rather than absorbing it. They are made from flexible silicone or rubber and are worn internally. These products come in a few sizes. When you would normally change a disposable tampon, these menstrual cups can be removed, emptied and cleaned with hot, soapy water. Then they are re-inserted or stored until the next period.

Re-Usable Sanitary Protection and Hygiene

Some people worry about whether re-usable pads and sanitary cups are as hygienic as their disposable counterparts. As long as they are looked after and cleaned in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions re-usable sanitary products are perfectly hygienic.

As long as you wash your hands before and after inserting sanitary protection there are no hygiene risks.

The Benefits of Re-Usable Sanitary Products

There are a number of benefits of re-usable sanitary products:

  • Re-usable sanitary products are far better for the environment than throwing or flushing disposable products away.
  • In the case of alternative tampons such as the Divacup or the Mooncup you need only buy one of the product, rather than the monthly trip to the shops you might make with regular tampons.
  • Products such as the Divacup and Mooncup can last up to ten years.
  • Due to the materials they are made from cloth pads and silicone cups are far better for women who are prone to thrush and other conditions irritated by their usual sanitary protection.
  • Some women worry about their bodies absorbing the chemicals used in disposable tampons and pads. With re-usable protection these pesticides and detergents are not a problem.
  • Re-usable sanitary products are a lot cheaper in the long run. Over a lifetime women could save a lot of money by using a re-usable sanitary product.

Buying Re-usable Sanitary Products

Surprisingly, re-usable sanitary products are not yet that well-known. However, awareness is definitely growing. You can easily buy re-usable sanitary products online and they are starting to be made available in large branches of department stores and supermarkets. In the coming years these products are likely to be widely available.

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