Sustainable period products are becoming increasingly popular and have multiple benefits for the environment. Credit: Natracare via unsplash

The stigma around talking about periods has diminished as women become more confident about discussing body issues. Next step is ensuring sanitary products are made sustainably – to minimise waste and reduce health risks. Louisa Davies from Ohne talks to Chrystal Jones about why their brand is a good example for the future of period products.

In the UK, 200,000 tonnes of waste are produced from period products every year, and the material used to make them means that they take years to decompose.

Most pads are made from plastic, and one pack is equivalent to 4 plastic bags. Even tampons have plastic in them and lots of applicators are also made from polyethylene and polypropylene.

Although we know we’re not supposed to, there are still people who flush their sanitary products down the toilet, blocking sewage systems. They can then get washed up on beaches and end up in landfill, whether they were flushed or disposed of properly.

Using sustainable sanitary products can help tackle this problem.

There are brands that offer re-wearable pads that can be put in the washing machine, along with period-proof underwear and active wear. The menstrual cup is another reusable item that can be washed and there are now tampons and pads that are made with organic materials.

Louisa Davies, 28, is the brand manager at sustainable period product brand Ohne. “Our products our different because they are 100% organic cotton and totally biodegradable,” she says.

Ohne was set up by best friends Leah and Nikki after chatting one night about how periods can be such a taboo subject – even the pink swirly packaging or the adverts that show blue liquid instead of red demonstrates the lack of comfort and understanding around the topic.

Leah and Nikki also realised that women are often only taught the basics of periods and don’t learn about the products and their effect on the environment and your body.

There’s more regulation of what goes into hamster food than into a tampon in the UK

“There’s actually more regulation about what goes into hamster food, than what goes into a tampon in the UK,” adds Louisa.

So, Ohne was set up to tackle the stigma around periods, provide better education to women and provide ethical and organic products.

Louisa says, “we’ve seen a lot of people wanting to support smaller and female founded businesses, but also it seems there has been a resurgence of people wanting to make sustainable switches in their lives.”

Ohne supply sustainably made tampons, applicator tampons and pads.

“The average tampon can take around 500 years to biodegrade, whereas Ohne products take about three to six months,” says Louisa. She adds, “the average woman will use around 11,000 tampons in her lifetime, so just imagine how many years it’ll take for those to biodegrade – and that’s just for one person.”

Not only do sustainably made tampons and pads have positive effects on the environment, but there are also health benefits too.

The average tampon has chemicals in it, including bleach which can lead to toxic shock syndrome. The skin around your vagina is also extremely delicate, so using scratchy material products can cause water infections.

Using naturally sourced material for tampons and pads means they don’t have dangerous chemicals in them to damage your body or the planet.

“There is undoubted evidence surrounding the damage that applicators, tampons and pads have on the environment – so why do we consciously continue making those products when we have that information,” says Louisa. “There needs to be a change for the future of sustainable period products.”

Click here to see a list of sustainable period products.