One of the most prevalent advantages of reusable pads is that they are extremely environmentally friendly. However, in order to understand the environmental advantages of using such pads, we must consider the environmental disadvantages of using disposable options. First of all, let’s take a look at the commercial manufacturing process of disposable sanitary pads. Petrochemical substances are used in the making of the pads, as well as a large amount of freshwater which is required for the cooling process. In the North American disposable sanitary pad market, a chemical known as bisphenol A is used, which is known to have detrimental effects on aquatic wildlife.
Photo Source: The News Minute
The commercial manufacturing of disposable pads also causes a great deal of pollution due to the use of dioxin. Dioxin is a chemical that is used to bleach the pads white and research indicates that this chemical has the power to suppress the immune system. As well as this, the production of disposable pads produces tonnes of waste every year, and the plastic involved in the manufacturing process ends up being dumped in landfills and rivers. Furthermore, in North America alone, previous research has found that approximately 20 billion sanitary products are discarded each year. It is said that the materials in the discarded pads can take hundreds of years to decompose.
An environmental catastrophe. Source – Green Living.
In contrast, reusable sanitary pads contain no plastics or fragrances and use significantly less chemicals than disposable pads. It is therefore vital for women to consider only these eco-friendly options, particularly given the levels of ocean pollution in our modern-day climate. Prince Charles himself has urged a ‘supreme wake-up call’ due to the vast scale of plastic pollution that now exists in our world. Disputing the claims of Donald Trump, the Prince argued that:
“If the unprecedented ferocity of recent catastrophic hurricanes is not the supreme wake-up call that it needs to be, to address the vast and accumulating threat of climate change and ocean warming, then we – let alone the global insurance and financial sectors – can surely no longer consider ourselves part of a rational, sensible civilisation.”
Speaking at the ‘Our Ocean’ conference also, EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy Federica Mogherini declared:
“The sea is a global common. We all have a responsibility to preserve it as a treasure and avoid that it turns into a threat. The EU believes that a globalised world needs a more cooperative global governance. It is impossible to imagine global governance without a cooperative oceans governance.”
The ugly reality of plastic interaction with the sea. Source – The Hague Institute for Global Justice.
As well as this, scientists are highlighting the reality that the whales in our oceans may be ingesting hundreds of pieces of plastic a day. Researcher Elitza Germanov warns that:
"Exposure to these plastic-associated toxins pose a major threat to the health of these animals since it can alter the hormones, which regulate the body's growth and development, metabolism, and reproductive functions, among other things."
This shows that the disposal of plastics into the world’s ecosystem not only ruins an animal’s habitat, but also has a severe impact on their wellbeing as a result.
It has also been reported by Science Magazine that 8.3 billion tonnes of virgin plastic have been produced to this date. It has been warned that this number will increase to 12 billion tonnes by 2050 if current environmental circumstances persist. This therefore begs the question: what can we do? More specifically, what can women do?
The answer is simple: use only reusable sanitary pads. Not only does using reusable pads have an effective impact on the environment, but there is also a double advantage in the sense that women will also be looking after themselves due to the vast health benefits of not using disposable pads. For instance, research has indicated that disposable pads make a woman more at risk of developing cancer due to the harsh chemicals that are used in the manufacturing process.
Taking all of these reasons (both environmental and health-related) into conclusion, women must therefore do what Prince Charles say and ‘wake up’ and commit to using eco-friendly reusable sanitary pads.෴