the danger of disposables...
Now.....there is a lot to cover here, but for very good reason. Knowledge is power.
Consumerism plays a huge part in the destruction of the planet today. Women are so heavily targeted by huge corporations that disposables are deemed as normal, and many women are not aware of the dangers these products pose to themselves and the environment. The mainstream feminine hygiene industry spends £14 million on advertising each year in the UK alone. Even the use of the word "sanitary" implies that periods are dirty, when they are a natural cycle of the human body.
Changeling this industry will take time, but it is possible - one woman at a time! All facts are referenced from research composed - links are at the bottom of the page for further reading.
So what's so wrong with them? Lets start off with environmental issues....
It is estimated in the UK about 700,000 pantyliners, 2.5 million tampons and 1.4 million sanitary towels are flushed down the toilet everyday. These block drains and sewage pipes, costing the UK £88 million a year - a cost we pick up with our water bills.
The average pack of pads contains approximately the same amount of slow to degrade plastic as FOUR plastic carrier bags.
Millions of people flush single use plastic down the toilet, and flushed plastics make up around 7% of beach litter.
In the UK, we use a WHOPPING 4.3 BILLION disposable sanitary products a year.
A 2010 Marine Conservation Society beach survey found 23 sanitary towels and 9 tampon applicators for every Km of coast.
Plastics that enter the marine environment eventually breakdown into micro plastics that can be eaten by marine animals - thereby entering the food chain.
Environmental impacts from material production...
Cotton production makes extremely heavy use of dangerous pesticides and chemicals.
Conventional cotton production accounts for 16% of insecticide release into the environment worldwide, and exposes growers, pickers, wildlife and the earth to poisoning.
Pesticides can contaminate soil, water, turf, and other vegetation. In addition to killing insects or weeds, pesticides can be toxic to a host of other organisms including birds, fish, beneficial insects, and non-target plants. Insecticides are generally the most acutely toxic class of pesticides, but herbicides can also pose risks to non-target organisms.
Groundwater pollution due to pesticides is a worldwide problem. According to the USGS, at least 143 different pesticides and 21 transformation products have been found in ground water, including pesticides from every major chemical class.
Heavy treatment of soil with pesticides can cause populations of beneficial soil microorganisms to decline. According to the soil scientist Dr. Elaine Ingham, “If we lose both bacteria and fungi, then the soil degrades. Overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides have effects on the soil organisms that are similar to human overuse of antibiotics. Indiscriminate use of chemicals might work for a few years, but after awhile, there aren't enough beneficial soil organisms to hold onto the nutrients”
What about our health?
Leading on from the effects of pesticides and chemicals used for farming crops, this has a devastating effect on farmers and to us due to long-term exposure. Read on for more info...
The world-wide deaths and chronic diseases due to pesticide poisoning number about 1 million per year.
Certain environmental chemicals, including pesticides termed as endocrine disruptors, are known to elicit their adverse effects by mimicking or antagonising natural hormones in the body and it has been postulated that their long-term, low-dose exposure is increasingly linked to human health effects such as immune suppression, hormone disruption, diminished intelligence, reproductive abnormalities and cancer.
Now onto why disposable products are so damaging - and this is why we feel spreading the word is so important.
Among the suspected EDCs (endocrine disruptors) found in some feminine hygiene products are parabens, which are used as preservatives, and fragrance ingredients including diethyl phthalate and Galaxolide®. (Parabens are also commonly used in personal lubricants.)
Chemicals from plastics may also be of potential concern, given that many of these feminine hygiene products have applicators.
One cost of using sanitary pads and tampons are the toxic chemicals used to produce the product and bleach them snow white. The purification and bleaching process with chlorine products may leave traces of dioxins in the product.
Dioxins are persistent organic pollutants that are highly toxic, damage your immune system and may interfere with your hormone system.
A woman's vaginal tissue is far more permeable than the rest of her skin, making women especially vulnerable to chemicals and other irritants that are pressed against these susceptible tissues for hours at a time. Vaginal tissue is full of blood vessels and lymphatic vessels, making it a direct entryway for chemicals to the rest of your body.
Tampons may also create a favorable environment for bacterial growth in the vagina. Tampon use may increase the risk of micro tears in the wall, allowing bacteria to enter directly into your blood stream and increase your risk of toxic shock syndrome (TSS).
Links and references