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From the Editors of E/The Environmental Magazine
Dear EarthTalk: Is it true that there is a lot of waste associated with tampons and sanitary pads and their packaging? Are there any environmentally friendly alternatives out there?
-- C. Howard, Victoria, BC
Women of ancient cultures couldn't buy feminine hygiene products at the supermarket or drugstore chain, so they improvised, fashioning them instead out of various natural and biodegradable materials—from papyrus and wool to grasses and vegetable fibers. Modern women, however, have relied on a variety of disposable products that create significant after-use waste and can also be dangerous to their health.
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Dioxin is 10 times more likely to cause cancer than was believed in 1994, says the EPA, and a lifetime of exposure to tampons, in particular, can mean a significant accumulation of toxins in a woman's body and many non-cancer effects, including birth defects and child developmental delays. Additionally, tampons, because they interrupt the natural flow of blood, can facilitate bacteria growth and cause infection. To address both the health and environmental issues associated with feminine products, a number of innovative companies offer alternatives. Gladrags, Natracare, Lunapads, Many Moons and Pandora Pads all make a wide range of cotton pads and other re-usable products free of toxic substances. And Jade and Pearl shapes natural sea sponges to fit a woman's body, absorbing flow and likewise steering customers away from throwaway products made of bleached synthetic fibers. Meanwhile, "The Keeper" is a reusable rubber cup designed to catch menstrual flow; its maker also sells a silicone version called the "Moon Cup" for those with sensitivities to rubber. Such products can last for up to 10 years before needing replacement and are approved by the U.S. FDA and Health Canada. Many of these healthier and environmentally friendly (and less costly) alternative products are available online as well as on the shelves of natural foods markets across North America.
GladRags, www.gladrags.com; Natracare, www.natracare.com; Lunapads, www.lunapads.com; Many Moons Alternatives, www.manymoonsalternatives.com; Pandora Pads, www.pandorapads.com; The Keeper, www.keeper.com; Jade and Pearl, www.jadeandpearl.com.
Image courtesy of GladRags
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