Warning! This post is menstrual related and might gross out most men and even some women. Read at your own risk!
Organic tampons and pads:
A few years ago I (mostly) made the switch from the standard (plastic/paper/non-organic cotton and viscose rayon) tampons and pads to a fabulous brand of organic products called Natracare. I did this after learning about the level of pesticide in non-organic cotton, the issues with plastic leaching and the chance of toxic shock syndrome associated with viscose rayon. Read here for some more details on most of these.
Dr. Philip M. Tierno Jr. (director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University Langone Medical Center and expert in toxic shock syndrome) explained that “all of the extant tampons on the [mainstream] market are made with the synthetic ingredient viscose rayon, in mixes with or without cotton, and all of these extant tampons are able to produce TSST1 toxin [which has been implicated in toxic shock syndrome” article can be found here].
The other ingredient found in a lot of pads and tampons is conventional cotton (non-organic). According to the Organic Trade Association “Cotton is considered the world’s ‘dirtiest’ crop due to its heavy use of insecticides, the most hazardous pesticide to human and animal health. Cotton covers 2.5% of the world’s cultivated land yet uses 16% of the world’s insecticides, more than any other single major crop.”
Tampons and pads are a pretty intimate consumer product. It’s one thing to wear a non-organic cotton shirt but I just don’t feel comfortable “wearing” toxic and carcinogenic products in that area in general if it can be at all avoided.
The switch to reusables:
Recently in an effort to move toward a zero waste household and to save money on disposables in general I tried out, and have adopted a product I cannot praise more. Lunapads is a local BC company located on Commercial drive. They supply reusable organic cotton pads and the DivaCup. I haven’t tried the DivaCup yet but the pads are worth trying
These babies are soft (really soft…think pillows over tissue or plastic feeling), super absorbent, come in multiple sizes and shapes for fit and use (light and heavy flow, nighttime etc) and don’t leak!
The organic ones only come in two “patterns” (pictured here in purple/blue or plain) but I think it is worth it for organic.
You can wash them in the washing machine with the rest of your clothes (so no additional water use) and air dry and they come out (from my experience) stain free.
Using the Lunapads has helped me reduce both my toxic load and the waste produced in general by my monthly little “friend” and I thank the designers/creators for this! I will still continue to use the Natracare tampons for swimming and other activities but overall except for the very light packaging my Lunapads came in, I won’t need to buy or discard any materials till this batch is totally worn out which I imagine will be similar in timespan to a pair of underwear.