The stress that sanitary wear is having on the environment

The “enviro-menstrual” impact - the increasing stress that sanitary wear is having on the environment.

Here at Secret Whispers we are setting our focus on all things; females, periods, & menstrual cups this month.

At the end you will find our Free Period Pain Guide. Lots of practical tips to help with your period pains.


It’s Stress Awareness Month in April. “Stress” can be interpreted in many different ways, and we could certainly advocate a few. However, the area of stress we would like to highlight is the stress that our everyday essential period products (that we don't think twice about), are having on our environment!

 the cost sanitary wear has on the environment

It’s estimated that tampons are used by 100 million women globally, each using on average 11,000 of them in their lifetime. This desire of companies to make a profit could help to explain why disposables have become more popular than reusables.


 They make companies a hell of a lot more money than reusables as the consumer is required to re-purchase them regularly, whereas a menstrual cup, for example, can last for up to 10 years. 

 best period cup in the UK


What really is the cost of feminine hygiene?!


How does sanitary wear impact the environment?

Single-use plastics have recently become a target for action, but it seems that menstrual products are going under the radar?  Disposables are often not recognised publicly as a source of “single-use plastic”. The majority of the environmental (or ‘environ-menstrual’ we like to say), impact from popular menstrual products results from their disposable nature!

Vast widespread use of these single-use, disposable products is hit with a huge environmental price tag at the end. 

It's estimated that a standard, non-organic sanitary pad can take 500-800 years to decompose!!!

Also, due to plastic being the biggest component of these products, they will never truly biodegrade. PLUS, most of these disposable pads have over 90% plastic and each pad is an equivalent to four plastic bags!

Tampons are significantly quicker to biodegrade at around six months . However, 50% of UK women flush tampons away​. It has been estimated that 1.5-2 billion menstrual items are flushed down Britain's toilets each year.

tampons flushed down the toilet


Sadly, single use products that do not make it to landfill can end up in our oceans or washed up on our beaches! 

Plastic tampon applicators are commonly found on our beautiful beaches and even inside the stomachs of dead seabirds. This revelation is heartbreaking and a little disturbing. Nobody wants their early morning beach swim disturbed by stray used tampons. Gross!

Shockingly, disposing of single use menstrual products; tampons, pads and applicators generates 200,000 tonnes of waste per year.

Figures from the Marine Conservation Society reveal:

  • 4 pads, panty liners and backing strips are found for every 100m of beach cleaned.
  • As well as, 1.2 used tampons and applicators. 

  • That’s 4.8 pieces of menstrual waste on average per 100m of beach in the UK.

    The number of wet wipes found on UK beaches has increased 94% since 2016. Even wipes labelled ‘flushable’ can block pipes and enter our waterways. 

    It costs £88 million a year to unblock sewers blocked by menstrual products (combined with fats, oils, grease and food waste) in the UK!

    What can I do to help the environment?

    Thankfully, a lot more of the population are becoming concerned with the demise of the environment and are making a conscious effort to improve the stress we cause, one person at a time. 

    So… What can YOU do?

    • Do not flush! If you are choosing to use these products, at least stop flushing tampons, wrappers, pads etc down the toilet.

    • Reduce, reuse, recycle! (Use reusable menstrual products, i.e. a menstrual cup. You will LOVE our Secret Whispers CupIT ) We have included 2 sized CupITs for the perfect fit.

    • Educate! Tell your friends and family about the shocking reality you have learnt today and encourage them too, to change to reusable products.
    • Take a stand - Sign this petition to take a stand for companies to make all disposable menstrual products plastic free.

    • Cut down on animal produce. I'm not saying go full on vegan, just by having 1 plant based meal a week can really help to make a difference.

    • Drive less. Goes without saying, we should all be moving more anyway #healthiswealth. Bike, walk more.

    What sanitary products should I use?

     - Get yourself a menstrual cup
    (personally, we think that we have the best… but you’ll have to try it to argue…
    Our Amazing Menstrual CupIT. This is going to save you so much time, money, mess, and stress on the environment. PLUS, we donate a CupIT to help with period poverty in the UK for every CupIT Menstrual Kit we sell.

     - If disposable products are compulsory, opt for an organic product.

     - Purchase a reusable tampon applicator.

     - Purchase reusable sanitary pads.

    Special Mention: Women’s History Month

    March was Women's History Month, therefore we did a little post on Monday 29th March, to send a nod to some special ladies who have sacrificed and set us in good stead to be able to do the amazing things we can do today. (check out our post and give it some love!)

    In particular, we would like to tie in the incredible Leona W. Chalmers.

    first woman to invent menstrual period cup

    Leona was an actress, inventor and author. She is best known for inventing the reusable menstrual cup in 1937. She faced lots of resistance to her idea even though it offered women a more hygienic, discreet and user friendly option for their periods.

    Without Leona we wouldn't have the CupIT or the other brilliant reusable menstrual options we have access to today. Thanks to Leona, we are one step closer to ‘Green Menstruation’!

    To Summarise:

    • The cost of feminine hygiene is extortionate. Financially, and environmentally.
    • It takes almost 1000 years to decompose a sanitary pad.
    • Sanitary pads are made up of 90% plastic and equivalent to 4 plastic bags.
    • Menstrual cups are the future (and now!). Yay for Secret Whispers.
    • You must be educating yourself and taking steps to greener menstruation. 
    • Thank you Leona W. Chalmers for providing us with a green future in menstruation.


    Want a free download? 5 HOLISTIC PERIOD PAIN REMEDIES

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     A Study into Public Awareness of the Environmental Impact of Menstrual Products and Product Choice

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