Let's Talk about Periods

As a society, we don't talk enough about the financial and environmental cost of periods. People who menstruate spend an estimated £4800 in their lifetime on products that mostly end up in landfill. Not only is it expensive, it's also harmful to the environment! So, what can we do to change?

What is period poverty? It's the lack of access to sanitary products due to financial constraints or difficulties. This definition can also be expanded to include the lack of knowledge, education, and prevalent taboos on menstruation within society.

Periods cost people who menstruate an estimated £4800 in their lifetime. 1 in 10 in the UK can't afford to buy menstrual products, and studies have shown that over 40% of people who menstruate have had to use toilet roll or torn up nappies. It's shocking that a natural bodily process costs so much to those who are affected.

The period poverty movement campaigns for access to free sanitary products for those who need them, as well as the de-stigmatisation of menstruation within society. We should be talking about periods!

Facts and Figures

  • 4.3 billion disposable menstrual products are used in the UK every year.
  • 2 billion menstrual products are flushed down Britain’s toilets, contaminating our beaches.
  • A ‘conventional’ menstrual pad is 90% plastic, containing about four carrier bags worth of plastic which can last 50+ years in landfills.
  • Depending on where menstrual pads end up, they could have a longer life span than the person who uses them!

How can we be more sustainable?

Keep reading for some sustainable alternatives to traditional disposable pads and tampons.

Period pants

These reusable, leak-proof underwear are relatively new to the market but are becoming popular with Primark releasing their own range this year.

Reusable tampon applicators

As tampon brands reduce their use of single-use applicators in favour of no applicators at all, this option allows those who feel more comfortable utilising an applicator to stay eco-friendly. Superdrug, Tesco, Sainsbury's, and Boots all stock affordable options.

Menstrual Cup

A very popular alternative is a menstrual cup. These silicone cups collect rather than absorb menstrual blood. If cleaned properly, they can last for years. A popular brand of these products is Mooncup, who state that their customers have prevented over 3 billion tampons and pads from ending up in landfills and the ocean. Using menstrual cups both helps the environment and saves you money over time by eliminating the need to buy often expensive disposable products. You can see how much money you would save by using Mooncup’s saving calculator.

What is the SU doing?

The Advice Centre provides free pads and tampons from their office in the SU building. Please come along to pick some up!

The Advice team is currently exploring how we can be more sustainable by looking into resourcing more sustainable products so watch this space!

Extra Resources

Period Poverty UK

Which? Guide on reusable period products

If you need further advice, we hold drop-ins on Zoom most Tuesdays and Thursdays term-time, 13:30-15:30. Check our Events Calendar for details and join using this Zoom link.