Taking the Plastic out of Periods (Ditch the Pearl, Girl)

Did you know that your vagina is one of the most absorbent parts of your body? Have you ever stopped to think about the fact that every plastic tampon applicator you have ever used is still somewhere on this planet? Though unrelated, these are two reasons why it’s time to ditch the pearl, girl.

Now by “Pearl” I specifically mean any kind of tampon with a plastic applicator and an unregulated list of ingredients including fragrances, bleach, pesticides, dye, etc. These products are not doing your vagina or our our planet any favors, and it’s time for them to go, starting with your next flow. You may be noticing more and more instagram ads for chic tampon companies on a mission to disrupt the period industry, and to provide you with sustainable, organic, and chemical-free alternatives to what we regularly find at the drugstore. They have arrived for good reason!

The average menstruating woman will be on her period for around 6 years of her life (woah!), and will use somewhere between 11,000 and 17,000 tampons in her lifetime. While we only use each one for a couple of hours max, it can take over 500 years for an applicator to decompose. Since tampon applicators were invented less than 500 years ago, and they are not recyclable, that means that every tampon ever used is somewhere on this planet right now. Yikes.

Since we are also spending a lot of time with these items in our bodies, it’s important to take into consideration that they are often bleached, filled with fragrances, or made with synthetic materials. While there are usually only trace amounts of  these ingredients in our tampons, it’s an unregulated industry, so the only way to know for sure that you are putting safe items in your body, is by choosing the organic 100% cotton options. That way you wont be getting harmful pesticides or dioxin (known endocrine disruptors) in your highly absorbent lady parts.

So, what should we be using? Luckily there are a plethora of alternatives for us to choose from these days, and some are so convenient that they will even be delivered to your door once a month! Because let’s face it, no matter how secure we are in our beautiful menstruating bodies, nobody likes standing in line at the grocery store with a single box of super absorbency tampons. It is, without fail, the one time we run into our ex, our crush, or our boss, am I right?

If you are a tried and true applicator gal, then ideally look for organic tampons, with a cardboard applicator. Some brands will say compostable or recyclable bio-plastic but those require very specific recycling processes and most likely will not make it to the proper facility if you are just tossing it in your bathroom trash or recycling can. Lola makes a great organic cardboard option with customizable packs based on your cycle.  

A few more fabulous alternatives include:

  1. Menstrual cups- these are generally made of flexible silicone, can be reused, and help cut down on how many natural resources we use during our periods. They can also really help you get in tune with your cycle because you get to see your blood (amount and consistency) every time you rinse it out. Many people have concerns that menstrual cups will leak especially if you are active, but they have been yoga and exercise tested and approved by yours truly. A popular and also wonderfully philanthropic menstrual cup to try is Dot, who donates one reusable cup to a girl in need of period products with every purchase.

  2. You could also take notes from European women and go applicator-free. Turns out applicators are another American-made convenience that aren’t actually necessary. Many brands such as Cora and Jessica Alba’s Honest Co have come out with organic applicator-free tampon options that also help cut down on waste and packaging.

  3. Get on the kickstarter train and support this innovative new company, Dame that has created the first reusable tampon applicators with a cute travel case, and various sizes of organic tampon refills.

So, the next time you’re riding the crimson wave, take a second to consider the ocean, the environment, and your own delicate ecosystems, and make the choice to ditch the pearl, girl.