How much does your period cost over a lifetime? Today’s sustainable living tip is going to cover how you can save $1,773 and the environment from 9,120 tampons over your lifetime.
According to a Huffington Post article:
“On average, a woman has her period from three to seven days and the average woman menstruates from age 13 until age 51. That means the average woman endures some 456 total periods over 38 years, or roughly 2,280 days (6.25 years of her life).”
The average life expectancy for a woman is 81 years. This means that she will spend approximately 7.7% of her life menstruating.
Women are instructed to change their tampon every 4 to 8 hours. For easy math sake, we’ll use 6 hours as an average, and assume that a box contains 36 tampons (costing approximately $7).
1 tampon every 6 hours = 4 tampons per day x 5 days of a period = 20 tampons per cycle x 456 periods = 9,120 tampons over a lifetime.
At 36 tampons per box, that’s 253.3 boxes x $7 = $1,773.33!
The Pink Tax: In 2015, the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs published a study comparing nearly 800 products from more than 90 brands. The study found that on average, products for women or girls cost 7% more than comparable products for men and boys.
Paying for Tampons is part of this Pink Tax. It’s pretty expensive to be a female in the 21’s century, but it doesn’t have to be!
I will address the Pink Tax in further detail later on in this article.
The Negative Impact of Tampons on your Health:
Unfortunately, most tampons and pads contain surfactants (a compound that reduces surface tension in liquids), adhesives (glue to hold the tampon together), and other chemical additives.
Moreover, most pads contain polyethylene plastic whose production releases harmful pollutants.
What’s more, is that over 90% of cotton produced in the United States has been genetically modified to be resistant to Round-up (the active ingredient being glyphosate).
Round-up is a powerful herbicide that kills weeds, but the biggest issue is that glyphosate is a known cancer-causing agent.
According to goop.com, the main concern is that,
“Chronic exposure [to toxins] increases our risk of cancer, causes oxidative stress, metabolic changes, and disrupts our endocrine system. This can contribute to adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immunological effects.”
In recent decades, infertility, endometriosis, and thyroid disorder rates have been on the rise. One explanation is the constant exposure to chemicals and toxins in our environment.
Furthermore, traces of dioxin (a known carcinogen), and a synthetic fiber called rayon are also found in tampons.
Dioxin: A Carcinogen and Cancer-causing Chemical
The vagina is a highly permeable space, meaning that toxins can be absorbed through the mucous membrane and enter into our bloodstream.
Dioxin is a by-product of the bleaching process and can leave a residue in the vaginal wall.
In another blog, I discuss the toxic nature of PVC plastic. One of the reasons why PVC is so toxic is that it releases dioxin during the production and recycling processes.
In fact, in 2008 the State of New Jersey banned the use of PVC in children’s toys. Their reasoning was due to its link to testicular cancer, liver problems, and the early onset of puberty in girls – which is a risk factor for later-life breast cancer.
Even though we know that tampons clog up building pipes, some people still flush their tampons which are made of rayon. The longer synthetic materials are left in water, the more time they have to break apart.
Why are microfibers so harmful? Because tiny plastic pieces can bioaccumulate and biomagnify up the food chain which we ingest in the form of yummy seafood.
The Environmental Impact: Why is Zero Waste so Important?
While there are tampons that are sold without applicators, the majority of the tampons are the kind that comes in an applicator.
Just think, each of the 9,120 tampons comes in an applicator, a protective sleeve, and a box (with a set of instructions).
The worst part is that they are all one-time items 😦
This is just the impact that you make. Now, let’s look at the situation from a macro scale.
According to the US census report, the population of America stands at approximately 326 million people. Of that, 51% of those people are female, so we can safely say that there are around 163 million women.
According to the site, approximately 50% of those women are between the ages of 13-51. Meaning that there are 81 million women of menstruation age.
If every woman of menstruating age uses an average of 20 tampons per cycle x 12 cycles per year… that’s 19,440,000,000 feminine products going to our landfills each year 😦
I did a quick double check on my math, and the University of Utah confirms that approximately 20 billion tampons are used every year!
Although cotton does biodegrade, it can take between 1-5 months to do so. The more chemical additives that are blended with the cotton, the longer it takes to biodegrade.
Not to mention, that when it does degrade, the chemicals seep into our water and soil resources.
The main issue is that we are producing waste faster than Mother Nature can get rid of it.
Although you may not be able to afford to purchase an all-electric car, you can stop your contribution of sanitary pads/tampons that get thrown into our landfills each year.
Small changes can make a huge impact. Plus, making the switch will save you money, is good for the environment, and is the healthier option.
My Personal Experience with the Diva Cup:
I have personally used the Diva Cup for over 2 years now and absolutely love it!
It did take me 2 cycles to get used to, but now its just part of my routine.
No, you can’t feel it when it’s in (it just like a tampon). The only thing I had to get used to was learning how to take it out.
I find it easiest to clean the Diva Cup in the shower, and I don’t need to take an entire shower to clean it out. Just squat in the tub.
**Remember, we are trying to save water because the world is running out of potable water. Click here to learn how you can save 12,000+ gallons of water per year.
I can get away with cleaning my Diva Cup 3 times a day. Once in the morning, once around 5 pm, and before bed.
I hope I have made a strong enough case for you to seriously consider making the switch.
Details About the Diva Cup:
The Diva Cup is made from 100% healthcare grade silicone. It is a reusable menstrual cup that collects (rather than absorbs) menstrual flow.
Just like with a tampon, you can be active with your Diva Cup. I am able to swim and lift weights at the gym.
The Diva Cup is manufactured in Canada and free of BPA, plastics, and dyes.
Of course, the manufacturer wants you to replace your Diva Cup once a year (most likely so that they can sell more of them). But according to Healthline.com, 100% health grade silicone can last 10-20 years.
I have had mine for 2+ years, and its still working without a hitch!
Be a part of the solution and stop contributing to the nearly 20 billion tampons/pads that end up in our landfills each year.
The Pink Tax:
I am sure that many of you are aware of the gender inequality of pay gap. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has come out with a report that states that in the decade (between 2004 and 2014), women earned 80% to 83% as much as men.
But are you aware of what many are calling the “Pink Tax”? According to listenmoneymatters.com,
“The pink tax refers to the extra amount women are charged for certain products or services. Things like dry cleaning, personal care products, and vehicle maintenance. So not only do women make less but they pay more. Women also live longer so they actually need more money for retirement.”
Paying for tampons is part of this Pink Tax!
As you can see from the graph below (provided by statista.com), the tampon/pad industry generates nearly $925 million per year.
Dollar sales of the leading tampon brands in the United States in 2016 (in million U.S. dollars)*
No wonder every other commercial advertises a feminine hygiene product!
Make the switch today.
The 10,000 Foot Overview:
Tampons were first invented in the 1930’s and have increased in popularity over time.
Please join me in preventing the contribution of 20 billion pads/tampons/applicators from being sent to our landfills annually!
I am not an alarmist, just someone who wants to shed light on the reality of the situation.
Be a part of the solution and not the problem. Help prevent global warming, climate change, and resource degradation today.
I sincerely hope to provide you with the best information possible, which is why I site as many government websites, medical journals, and credible sources as possible.
Fund your Roth IRA retirement account with your tampon savings!
If you have learned even one piece of information that you did not know before reading this article, please share or re-pin so that we can spearhead this paradigm shift toward a more sustainable future together🙂