52 Ways to Reduce Your Environmental Footprint – 8. For the Ladies!

Thanks for checking out this week’s blog for the ladies, concerning sanitary products. OK, so coming from a guy this may sound a little but contentious, but I consulted with my wife and she is happy for me to continue.

You may not be surprised to hear that sanitary products in some form have been around for centuries. Hypatia, who lived in the 4th century AD, was said to have thrown one of her used menstrual rags at an admirer in an attempt to discourage him [1].

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Norwegian washable pads, 19th century

A lot of times though, women simply bled into their clothing. Although, back then it was quite common, due to higher childbirth rates and much lower health levels, for menstrual cycles to be less frequent and lighter . Source: Heal Dove

Traditionally, sanitary products have been made from a wide variety of natural products such as cotton or wool and were usually washable. There is even evidence suggesting that sanitary products have been made from all kinds of materials such as elephant dung, grass, rabbit fur, leaves and sponge. I am not entirely sure how effective the elephant dung was.

The 20th century saw the invention of the disposable sanitary product, although in the early days, they were still made from organic products such as cotton, wood-pulp and wool. These days, your average sanitary tampon or pad is likely to be up to 90% plastic (Rayon, polyester, polypropylene Source: Tampax). Consider now, that the average western female will throw away up to 16,000 in a lifetime [2]. All of this ends up as municipal waste to become landfill. Environment portal, Down to Earth, estimated that 432 million pads are disposed of every month! Yikes!

So, options. Are there any practical ones?

  1. Go organic – Whilst these products do still end up as landfill and they do tend to cost a little more, at least they are not made of plastic and therefore a less toxic for both user and environment.
    1. Examples – Seventh Generation and Natracare
  2.  Re-usable – These are quite a lot of work but 100% natural, so safe and do not end up in landfill.
    1. Example – Gladrags
  3. Menstrual Cups – With advances in production techniques, menstrual cups have improved greatly over the past few years. Now, this environmentally-friendly, comfortable, convenient product is not only cost-effective but is rapidly becoming the most preferred choice by women all over the planet. (Note, my wife has used them for over a year now with no issues to date).
    1. Product reviews – Menstrual Cup Reviews

If you are serious about making the change, then check out this excellent youtube channel from Precious Stars. There is detailed information on all these options and more.

I know that changing a habit like this is particularly difficult. Marketing studies show that often women will buy the brand of tampons or pads their mothers used and rarely diversify. But to those of us who know that there are more important elements to our consumer choices than brand loyalty, it’s worth it to give the alternatives a try.


There are so many ways in which we can help reduce our environmental footprint but with so much going on it is hard sometimes to remember. Rather than remember, the best way is to form a habit and the best way to form a habit is by utilising the 3 R’s:

  1. Reminder (the trigger that initiates the behavior)
  2. Routine (the behavior itself; the action you take)
  3. Reward (the benefit you gain from doing the behavior)

Each week, for 52 weeks, we will post a new idea to help you reduce your waste and work towards a cleaner less polluted lifestyle. Hopefully, by the end, some of the idea’s will become habitual and stick with you forever. Consider this to be your gift to the world.

#reducewaste #environmentalfootprint #onebrownplanet #breakfreefromplastic


1. Deakin, Michael A. B. (1888). “Hypatia and Her Mathematics”. The American Mathematical Monthly. Mathematical Association of America. 101 (3): 234–243. doi:10.2307/2975600. JSTOR 2975600.
2. http://edition.cnn.com/2015/11/13/health/whats-in-your-pad-or-tampon/


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