What a waste. Every cycle, a woman throws about 25 hygienic products in the thrash. That’s 325 tampons or sanitary pads a year. Yearly, all women on this planet together use about 45 billion sanitary products: that’s a lot of waste. A bloody mess! Something to consider, especially on World Environment Day.
To produce all these tampons and sanitary towels, enormous cotton plantations and whole forests of wood are needed. Plus loads of water and fuel. With over 19 million tonnes a year, cotton is the most grown non-food crop. It seems ecological and environmental friendly, but it’s sprayed with a whopping 25% of all yearly used pesticides. This leads to toxins in the food chain.
Imagine: 45 billion sanitary towels. Put end to end, the distance covered would be the same as 12 times from the Earth to the moon. And if you’d dump them together in the ground, you’d need to dig a hole with a depth of 100m and 100m across.
All this garbage has a huge environmental impact, especially because disposable pads and tampons can contain pesticides. When thrown away, these toxic chemicals get into the ground. It can take hundreds of years before hygienic products are broken down, especially when they’re individually wrapped in plastic.
Pads on the streets
A lot of countries lack good garbage disposal; in some places used sanitary towels can be found lying in the streets. This poses a threat to public health. Sanitary products that are flushed through the toilet cause blockages. It’s estimated that 70% of the sewer blockages is caused by hygienic products, which leads to both costs and health problems. Environmental friendly alternatives such as washable sanitary towels and menstrual cups produce less garbage, but are only possible when there is good access to clean water and soap.