Around 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons are discarded each year in the United States alone. The majority of these products will end up in landfills, sewers, and the ocean.
The average menstruating person uses 22 pads or tampons every cycle and throws away up to 11,000 items (or 300 pounds) of period products away in a lifetime. All this waste has a devastating environmental impact considering that disposable pads and tampons, with their applicators and wrappers, are made out of up to 90% plastic.
Most single use products also contain chemicals such as dioxin, chlorine and rayon. In landfills these chemicals get soaked up by the earth and are released as pollution into groundwater and air.
However the largest environmental impact comes from the production of plastic tampon applicators and the plastic strip on the back of sanitary pads. These are made from LDPE (low-density polyethylene, a thermoplastic).
Production of these plastic components of pads and tampons requires massive amounts of fossil fuel. Indeed, a year’s worth of period products was estimated by a Harvard researcher to have a carbon footprint of 5.3 kg CO2 equivalents.
This is why we designed a reusable pad that lasts for around 5 years, saving the planet from approximately 300 single use menstrual products.
We choose to work with organic cotton – one of the cleanest, lowest impact fabrics on the planet.
The amount of pesticides and insecticides used in traditional, non-organic cotton farming has made it one of the world’s dirtiest crops.
Organic cotton, which is grown without the harmful chemicals, can reduce water pollution by up to 98%. Reducing runoff from pesticides protects both the ecosystems and people that depend on the local water supply.
In addition to polluting our soil and water, pesticides also are a massive contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture. Toxic chemicals in traditional cotton farming affect health of farmers worldwide. There is a link between consistent exposure to these chemicals and cancer, neurological diseases, and reproductive complications.
We want to be clear and honest here – our pads are not plastic free. They feature a waterproof layer made of polyester PUL. We believe plastic is great when used wisely. PUL fabric in our pads allows to create a durable, reliable menstrual product that you can reuse for several years replacing single use plastic alternatives.
PlumThyme period pads are manufactured by our local factory in Fall River, Massachusetts. We choose USA-produced materials for our pads. Other period related essentials are sourced from our vetted partners in the United States and beyond.