Do pads and tampons contain plastic?

Do Pads and Tampons Contain Plastic?

Do you know the true cost of your period? Every single year in the UK, we send around 200,000 tonnes of disposable pads and tampons to landfill. We flush a further 2 million menstrual items down the loo too, polluting our oceans and waterways, and adding to the ever growing issue of forever plastic. And in fact, plastic is among the top five most washed up items here on British beaches- just imagine swimming alongside a used tampon! 

That’s the true cost of your period, if disposable pads and tampons are your thing. 

What are disposable pads made of?

The design of sanitary pads has changed a lot over the years- and thanks to technological advances they’re now smaller and more absorbent than ever. But this has come with a price, because modern disposable pads contain up to 90% plastic. They also contain gels to absorb liquid, and sticky strips to help keep them in place. The sticky stuff is usually made up of polymers and synthetic resins.

Why are disposable pads made up of so much plastic? According to this study, the use of synthetic plastic materials is all down to consumer demands for comfort and efficiency. We want something softer, more absorbent, more reliable. 

But this same study also found that lots of pads actually contain both Volatile Organic Compounds( VOCs) and phthalates, both of which pose a potential risk to health. And the scary thing is that most people who use disposable pads have no idea at all what they’re made of, or the risks they’re taking each time they place one next to their vagina for extended periods of time.

And if the risk to health wasn’t enough, the plastic that’s contained in the pads you see on the supermarket shelves are slowly destroying our planet too. One pad is the equivalent to four plastic carrier bags, and once dumped into landfill or ocean, they’re going nowhere fast. 

What are tampons made of?

So are tampons any better? Perhaps, but not by much. Most tampons have a thin synthetic cover with a cotton-based core, and either a synthetic or cotton string. Some tampons have either a cardboard or plastic applicator. 

Do Pads and Tampons Contain Plastic?

Without plastic applicators, tampons can actually be ok-ish in terms of damage to the planet. They can be made using organic cotton and without potentially harmful chemicals too. Of course, it’s personal preference as to whether or not you want to insert a tampon into your vagina, but the option is there to have a somewhat greener period with them.

But tampons, even those with reusable applicators, or no applicators, and even those with no added chemicals or toxins- they’re still single-use. Once you remove it, you need to dispose of it. Along with pads and pantyliners, a staggering 2.5 million disposable tampons are flushed down the loos in the UK each year, ending up flowing into our rivers and washing up onto our beaches. Yuk.

What effect does single use plastic have on the planet?

Single-use plastic is harming our planet. Disposable pads and tampons are the fifth most common item found washed up on beaches in Europe, and across the world 45 billion discarded menstrual products are left to litter, pollute and destroy.  Eventually these plastic-riddled pads and tampons will break down (it will take many, many years though!) into smaller pieces, dispersing small particles of plastic into our eco system and releasing petro-chemical toxins into the atmosphere. 

We need to turn our backs on single-use plastic now. We need to say no to disposable products that are harmful to our health and to our planet. We need to make the switch to greener, more sustainable options before it’s too late.

Can you have a sustainable period?

Disposable pads and tampons contain up to 90% plastic. They’re flooding our oceans, blocking our waterways and polluting our earth. The alternative? Reusable pads and period pants.

One single pair of WUKA period pants will save 200 single-use disposables from polluting our oceans, waterways and landfill. One pair of WUKA period pants will last up to two years if cared for properly, and can be returned to the earth after use, thanks to biodegradable and compostable materials we use. One pair of our period pants can make a huge difference. 

And if you’re not into swimming alongside tampons, or indeed wearing them while you swim- we also have a period-proof swimsuit, deigned to absorb your flow and protect against leaks. So there really is no excuse for plastic-riddled pads and tampons. Period.

It is possible to have a sustainable period. It is possible to end single-use plastic. It is possible save the planet, one pair of pants at a time.

Related posts

What is GOTS cotton?

Are Reusable Pads Better for the Environment?

How to Have a Sustainable Period

How Sustainable are WUKA Period Pants?

Saving the Ocean One Reusable Pad at a Time


Do tampons contain plastic?

Many tampons on the supermarket shelves contain plastic; some have a synthetic cover on the cotton core, a synthetic string, and a plastic applicator. Some tampons are also packaged in plastic wrapping.

Do pads contain plastic?

Disposable pads contain up to 90% plastic. Synthetic gels are used to make up the absorbent core of the pad, and synthetic resin is used to make the sticky strips that keep the pad adhered to your underwear. 

Do they put chemicals in pads and tampons?

Some disposable pad and tampon brands use PFAs in their products, and many use other chemicals that may pose a risk to your health. 

A recent study carried out found that so-called ‘forever chemicals’ are present in 48% of pads and 22% of tampons. PFAs are known to pose a risk to health and should certainly be avoided in products that are designed to spend time next to your vagina.

WUKA period pants do not contain PFAs. We’ve always been committed, since day one, to not using any harmful chemicals in the production of our products. All of the materials that we use are planet friendly, animal friendly and contain no added chemicals whatsoever.

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