Using a carbon calculator to work out the impact of my own menstruation, at twenty-three and having started my period at ten years old I have generated 86.1kg of menstrual waste. This is the equivalent of one of me and in a lifetime I would produce 584.1lbs of waste (264.9kg) the same weight as one grizzly bear.
Now if in all these years I had solely used conventional tampons and pads, as I did for many years before I made the sustainable switch, all these pads and tampons would end up in landfill taking hundreds of years to degrade and release potent methane.
And as we know through the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, to avoid climate disaster and limit warming to 1.5°C, we need to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by 43% by 2030 and at the same time, reduce methane by about a third.
However, it’s not only the impact of period products ending up in landfill that contributes to their carbon footprint but the materials used to make them as well. The Royal Institute of Technology Stockholm found that the largest impact of period products comes from producing plastic tampon applicators and the plastic strip on the back of sanitary products. These are made from LDPE (low density polyethylene) a thermoplastic which requires massive amounts of fossil fuels. Indeed, a year’s worth of period products was estimated by a Harvard researcher to have a carbon footprint of 5.3kg CO2. An average UK car mile produces 0.27596 kg CO2e, therefore 5.3kg CO2 is equivalent to driving 19.2miles, a UK example journey could be Bristol to Chepstow.