Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How To Be Eco-Friendly During That Time of the Month

Grist Magazine recently did a two-part review (Part 1, Part 2) of eco-friendly feminine hygiene products. It's an interesting and informative read. The review and reader comments were revealing. Lots of opinions. Lots of insight into yet another product category that is undergoing a 180-degree change in consumer demand, what it is made of, and how it is packaged. The bottom line is that with nearly every feminine hygiene product there is still a great opportunity for improvement -- absorbency, packaging, feel, keeping it in place.

As women, we should be aware that there are better choices than the standard tampon and pad product line that we've been purchasing from the grocery or drug store. And some of the newest, more eco-friendly and safer products are not yet widely available in store but rather online -- such as at or Of course, you can write an e-mail to your local store to stock a more environmentally brand once you know what you'll buy.

And that is key. Just like you arrived at choosing your preferred selection of standard feminine products by trial and error, the same will be true for choosing more eco-friendly versions. You'll need to try some new brands and see what works for you. From there, you can ask your local store to carry your preference.

Here are the key things you want to look for:
  • Look for Less Packaging Overall: If you are not going to go the washable or reusable route (such as the cup or a washable pad) then you want to look for products that use the least amount of packaging.
  • Avoid Plastic: Ideally you want to purchase a feminine product that uses no petro plastic or synthetics in its construction or packaging. If it does (such as packaging wraps for tampons or pads), you can at least recycle the clean packaging. Ask the manufacturer to make their packaging and any plastic completely biodegradable. Even if packaging wrappers could be made out of recycled paper instead of plastic that would be an improvement. And if you love that smooth plastic applicator for tampons, ask the manufacturer to make it out of biodegradable plastic (such as plastic made from corn).
  • Look for Organic and Chlorine Free: If you are purchasing pads or tampons, look for organic cotton that is chlorine free.
  • Seek Out Biodegradable: Any disposable product that has components, such as an applicator, that is biodegradable on its own would be preferable over recyclable.

Here are some more eco-friendly brands and options:

This is a video from Maxim that points out some differences between synthetic and more eco-friendly feminine options. I still don't like the plastic wrappers, but the video is worth watching to understand some of the health and safety, as well as environmental, issues:

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