How green is your period?

Just as women finally get comfortable, hygienic sanitary protection, we find something else to worry about: is it environmentally friendly? When it comes to saving the planet, should you choose organic cotton tampons or a menstrual cup?

Reusable options like cups and washable pads are a fantastic choice for many, but the overwhelming majority of women choose tampons and disposable pads, bringing us to the tricky eco issue of sanitary disposal.

If talking about periods is still a taboo, then talking about disposal is the taboo within the taboo! As the topic doesn’t come up in polite conversation, all sorts of misconceptions and non-green practices flourish in the silence.

Needless to say, at FabLittleBag, talking about disposal is not a problem (in fact we do little else!), so we’ve heard many stories from the period front line. It is as if Martha has become the Period Whisperer, with people opening up and sharing their period disposal stories, often for the very first time! From the person who flushed her pads having first ripped off the plastic backing (“to make it ok”), to those who have even thrown their tampon out the bathroom window when faced with no bin and no loo roll, it’s clear a practical, environmental solution is needed.

Reusable sanpro is often cited as the answer, and indeed the green credentials look strong. Nothing is perfect however. Menstrual cups are made from medical grade silicone which is not recycled and non-degradable, so they will long outlive their users on this planet. And they do sometimes spring a leak or need replacing every few years, so ultimately they’re disposable too.

Washable pads have become more sophisticated than the rags of old, but they’re extra hassle and extra washing, which has an environmental cost. Moreover most women, having experienced the convenience of a tampon or a disposable pad, have so far proved resistant to the charms of a washable pad.

So for the lion’s share of women, a decent eco method of sanitary disposal is urgently required. Ironically, some women believe flushing a tampon is the right thing to do “to save it from landfill”. It’s small right?! Have you ever put a tampon into a glass of water? Not so small then! Ask any of the water companies about flushing sanitary items; they spend £88m pa fishing tampons, pads, panty liners, wipes, condoms out of the waterworks, then transporting them to landfill.

And that’s the best case scenario! Flushed tampons have a horrid habit of joining other clogging substances in the sewers (cooking oil, condoms, baby wipes) to form monstrous blockages, or “fatbergs”.  These cause raw sewage to overflow into the waterways, causing horrendous pollution of the aquatic environment.

FabLittleBag’s chief role is to keep tampons out of sewers by providing an easy, discreet and hygienic solution to women and girls, making it something of a green hero! Our research shows that when you offer women a better alternative to the loo roll wrap, they switch from flushing to binning.

But surely FLB is a plastic bag, what’s green about that?, we hear you cry. Firstly, we make FabLittleBag from 35% natural sources (formerly sugar cane waste, soon to be corn starch). Secondly, the necessary plastic element is specially treated to ensure it biodegrades in 12-36 months, which is quicker than the degradability of the tampon or pad inside!

In developing FabLittleBag we looked into all possible materials, from a green perspective as well as practical. Fundamentally the bag must to be up to the job: sufficiently strong not to fall apart with the wet contents, non-porous enough for a hygienic seal and opaque to give women some dignity. We continue to look out for ever more eco-conscious materials.

We are happy to salute those women who take a different approach to creating a greener world by embracing reusables, while we provide an eco option for those who choose otherwise. So far our many customers from all over the world tell us we’ve done a good job 😊

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