Here’s why – and how – we should be composting our period products

If you can afford to buy sustainable, it really is worth it (Picture: Getty)

Periods have been slowly getting more sustainable.

If you’re not afraid of a little (or a lot) of blood, you’ve got your menstrual cup. If you’re wary of insertion methods but want to go to sleep safe in the knowledge that your sheets won’t be red when you wake up, you’ve got period pants.

But what if you feel safest and most comfortable with a good old tampon or towel? Often when we talk about green periods, we forget that not everyone has the same flow, habits, needs and that some people do genuinely prefer using more standard period products.

Does that mean that they can’t participate in the environmental revolution too? Absolutely not.

If you use tampons, one thing is for sure: you definitely shouldn’t be flushing them down the loo. According to a 2016 study by Anglian Waters, 41% of us flush them – despite most not being biodegradable.

Most conventional pads and tampons are packed with plastic. Friends of the Earth says that while pads can contain up to 90% plastic, tampons also contain a tonne of the stuff – from the string to the applicators. When you consider that around 700,000 panty liners, 2.5 million tampons and 1.4 million sanitary towels are flushed down the loo every single day in the UK, you start to see the massive problem.

Fortunately, there’s a growing collection of alternatives out there that are biodegradable and reliable.

All you have to do is look for organic cotton tampons, pads and liners that come in plastic-free packaging. There are plenty around, including Freda, Callaly and Dame, as well as Flo.

How to compost your tampons

HuffPost spoke to the co-founder of eco-period brand &SISTERS, Lucy Lettuce, who shared her three-stage process for composting your organic period products at home:

  1. Make yourself a compost bin. You can buy them or make one yourself either by creating a compost heap in your garden (simply creating an area where you can put garden refuse and non-animal food waste). The crucial thing is that it’s well-drained so that it doesn’t get too soggy and gets some sunlight.
  2. Chuck in your organic cotton tampons, liners and pads but make sure that you’re regularly adding ‘green’ compost to the bin – like coffee grounds, grass cuttings, vegetation from the garden and vegetable peelings. ‘Brown’ compost like cardboard and cotton take longer to breakdown so you want to get a good mix going on.
  3. Wait for at least 18 months for products to fully break down.

While 18 months might seem like a jolly long time to reap the rewards of your hard work, remember that regular tampons take over 500 years to biodegrade.

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