Women across the UK have stopped throwing away their sanitary pads. Should we follow suit?
Once a month, every month, Katie* carries a small, patterned cotton pouch around in her handbag. Lined with wipe-clean plastic, from the outside, it looks a lot like a make up bag. When she goes to the toilet, she takes it with her, and nobody bats an eyelid.
‘Nobody knows that I keep my used sanitary pads in there,’ she says. ‘Most people seem to think I’m just going to top up my mascara – I think they’d be pretty grossed out if they realised! But it doesn’t leak, and it saves me loads of money, and it’s good for the environment, so I’m not really that bothered if anybody does find out.’
Katie isn’t alone. She’s part of a new, eco-friendly, budget-conscious generation of women who are opting for reusable sanitary pads over the pre-packaged, disposable brands used by the majority of the population. Less fiddly than a mooncup (and without the pressure of having to sit and wait in your cubicle until the public toilet has emptied to run out, rinse it and pop it back in again), reusable pads just need folding up and sticking in your plastic-lined pouch. Then shoving in the washing machine as soon as you get home.
‘Women usually need around six sanitary towels as a minimum, washing every day,’ reads the EarthWiseGirls website – one of the UK’s leading stockists of reusable sanitary pads. ‘Some women prefer to have extra so that all their reusable sanitary towels can be washed together at the end of their period.’
In terms of our lifestyles, it still makes us squirm a bit and want to wash our hands a lot. But in terms of the environment, it’s a great move – and perhaps we just need to get over ourselves and embrace the change.
After all, reusable nappies have been around for centuries, and as it stands, women are estimated to throw away 16,800 sanitary products over the course of their lives – which is a phenomenal amount of waste. And if that’s not enough, many of our regular pads are filled with synthetic chemicals to counteract smell – but which are often linked to skin disorders and health issues as a result.
But that’s still not the main selling point.
Nope, the main selling point is the unicorn print.
The unicorn print is everything.