Embracing Biodegradable Solutions for Sustainable and Accessible Menstrual Health
Two years ago, I started a movement to break the silence around menstruation and make period products more accessible in Canada through my non-profit organization the Period Priority Project. Driven by my own experiences with period taboos. I realized the importance of informed decision-making and accessibility in period care.
As an advocate for environmental sustainability and menstrual equity, I understand the imperative of transitioning to sustainable period care solutions, all while considering factors such as affordability and accessibility. However, I recognize that bodily autonomy and freedom of choice are equally vital, acknowledging the uniqueness of each menstrual experience.
While disposable pads are popular, their environmental impact raises concerns. Let's explore their role in meeting immediate needs while promoting biodegradable alternatives like joni for sustainable menstrual health.
The Need for Disposable Menstrual Products
While reusable period products are a sustainable choice, they’re not suitable for every situation. For instance, managing menstrual cups or reusable pads may be impractical in regions with water advisories or for individuals experiencing homelessness.
Disposable period products offer a hygienic and convenient solution, particularly for individuals with heavy flows or irregular cycles. Plus they provide a sense of security and comfort, enabling menstruators to manage their periods across various settings, including work, school, and public spaces.
Bodily Agency and Personal Preference
When it comes to menstrual care products, personal preference is deeply personal and rooted in bodily agency.
While some opt for disposable products for convenience or personal preference, others choose reusable options like menstrual cups or cloth pads for environmental or health reasons. Just as some people prefer the comfort of tampons, for others, tampons can be triggering for those with trauma due to their invasive nature.
When promoting menstrual equity and breaking down period-related stigma, we must respect these individual choices and preferences.
Environmental Concerns with Conventional Disposables
Despite their convenience, traditional disposable menstrual products are environmentally problematic, made with a blend of plastics, synthetic fibers, and bleached materials, contributing to pollution and waste accumulation.
A single menstrual pad can take up to 500-800 years to decompose in landfills, exacerbating environmental degradation and negatively impacting ecosystems.
Embracing Sustainable Solutions
So how can we make more sustainable choices while still honoring bodily agency?
Biodegradable and compostable menstrual products are a promising solution that addresses both menstrual health needs and environmental concerns.
Companies like joni have introduced innovative period care products made from organic ingredients and plant-based materials, which are biodegradable and compostable, without compromising on comfort or protection while minimizing the environmental footprint associated with menstrual waste.
The Benefits of Biodegradable Menstrual Products
Let’s break down the benefits of using more sustainable disposable period care products:
Environmental Sustainability: Biodegradable menstrual products naturally break down over time, reducing the accumulation of non-biodegradable waste in landfills and oceans. They mitigate carbon emissions and contribute to a more sustainable menstrual care ecosystem.
Health and Safety: Biodegradable options are often devoid of harmful chemicals, fragrances, and dyes commonly found in traditional disposables, reducing the risk of skin irritation and allergic reactions. They prioritize menstrual health and well-being while advocating for a more natural and eco-friendly approach to period care.
Ethical Sourcing and Production: Companies like joni prioritize ethical sourcing practices, ensuring that their materials are sustainably sourced and produced in environmentally responsible ways. This commitment to transparency and ethical standards resonates with conscientious consumers seeking socially and environmentally conscious products.
Promoting Sustainable Period Care
We can advocate for menstrual health and the environment simultaneously by promoting awareness about biodegradable menstrual products to help them become more accessible. Education is key in empowering people to make choices that align with their values when it comes to period care. Plus, it's important for policymakers and others involved to support initiatives that promote sustainable period products in places like schools, workplaces, and communities.
While traditional disposable products are convenient, their environmental impact highlights the need for a shift towards biodegradable options like joni. By choosing sustainable period care, we can prioritize both our health and the planet, creating a more inclusive and eco-friendly approach to dealing with menstruation. Let's work together to rethink period care for a healthier planet and future generations.
Leisha Toory is the founder of the Period Priority Project, the Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Director with the Young Canadians Roundtable on Health, and an Honors in Political Science undergraduate at the University of Ottawa.