2020 is a year like never, it has made us all look at our lives and rethink aspects. As countries locked down, we saw the impact of a cleaner environment. Less people out, meant less pollution and for the first time, the canals of Venice ran clear and people marveled at the Himalayas from their homes. The impact we have on the environment is clear, the conscious actions we take will have an effect and this includes how we manage menstruation.
In recent years we’ve begun to look at the realities and consequences of the scale of waste created by traditional period products, and the numbers are shocking, the average menstruator generating 200kg of waste from period products in their lifetime. Many of us grew up with and have become accustomed to using conventional ways of managing a period with the likes of pads and tampons which can contain up to 90% plastic. For much of the last 100 years, pads and tampons have dominated the period product market through mass availability and advertising. Through a lack of
innovation in the sector, not much had changed, yes, the pads became thinner and yes, the tampons more compact but the effects on the environment stayed the same.
Fortunately, nowadays and for future generations there has been a huge shift in alternative ways to manage periods. The choice now goes beyond disposables with options including menstrual cups and reusable period pants, such as Modibodi. The argument for reusables is a no brainer, as we understand the effects period plastic use has on the environment and oceans.
For years plastic has pervaded modern life, lodging itself into convenience products with period products no exception. In fact, period products are one of the largest contributors to plastic waste in the UK due to the amount of plastic used in packaging, applicators, synthetics and linings. Whilst it’s easy to dismiss our individual consumption as just one person out of millions of menstruators, if
everyone who has periods took the decision to be more conscious of the impact their period has on the environment, the positive effects would be huge.
Whilst a tampon or pad may be used for 4-8 hours, its actual lifespan is longer, due to the polyethylene plastic (the adhesive that’s used to make the pad stick to your underwear) a pad can take up to 500 years to break down. What’s more, the average menstruator is likely use between 11,000-16,000 tampons and pads in their lifetime, so what happens to these? Period products in the UK are thought to generate up to 200,000 tonnes worth of plastic waste each year, some of which ends up in landfills and the rest in our oceans, as it’s estimated that half of UK women flush pads or
tampons away, meaning plastics and other potentially harmful chemicals from sanitary products end up in our oceans and on our beaches.
Surprisingly to some, it’s not just the plastics we can see which we need to consider, the bleaching products in disposables are also damaging as well as the levels of chlorine and dioxin found in tampons and pads, for which there is no regular independent testing of the levels of these chemicals. Pads and tampons can contain a wide range of chemical absorbers, fillers, lubricants, top sheets and unintentional chemical and pesticide residues from the bleaching and manufacturing process which end up in landfill or the ocean, unless using certified organic variants of these
products, there’s no way of knowing just how much your period could be contributing to ocean pollution.
On average almost 5 pieces of plastic from disposable period products were found washed up per 100m of British beach. Marine Biologist Bryony Costello (@BefitBryony) found these statistics enough to convince her to make the swap to a Modibodi – “As a Marine biologist I have always been concerned about the environment and had always felt a little bad about the waste from sanitary products. I found it hard to find a sustainable sanitary product that also met my fitness needs but Modibodi has helped me change that! Not only do I use their period pants for my down time but I find their activewear range super useful for when I’m working out and exercising. I feel so much happier knowing I’ve found a sustainable and reusable period product which matches both my ethics and my fitness needs!”
Studies have suggested that ‘period shaming’ is one of the primary reasons why so many women choose to flush products, rather than disposing of them properly. Research undertaken by period and leak-proof underwear brand Modibodi, showed that 1 in 3 girls felt embarrassed to talk about their periods. There is still a huge stigma around periods, something which traditional menstrual product adverts perpetuate. From using the colour blue instead of red to show blood, to showing
girls riding bikes or playing tennis, it highlights that unreality of menstruation and only sets to fuel the taboo. Modibodi is on a mission to change this unreal perception and have launched a new campaign ‘New Way to Period’, which shows the realities of periods. Featuring real blood, and women with mixed emotions, from dancing to laying on a bed with cramps and feeling a little down.
Doing our bit for the planet is about reducing plastic use in a way that works for your lifestyle, and it can be as simple as swapping your undies. Designed to be leak-free, with a variety of absorbencies from light to heavy/overnight, Modibodi can be worn without the need for other protection, meaning you can eliminate pads and tampons completely, making your period totally plastic free, right down to the compostable packaging. Whilst sustainable options once felt limited, we now have more choice and more opportunity to educate ourselves, plus an increasing pressure to think about how our consumption choices affect our environment. Modibodi are pioneering their reusable, leak-proof and stylish underwear, activewear and swimwear as The New Way to Period, with comfort and eco-consciousness in tandem.
Watch Modibodi’s New Way to Period video: