menstrual cup
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Yearly in America, girls spend not less than US$2.8 billion on sanitary pads and tampons that may take lots of of years to decompose. Is there a extra economical and environmentally pleasant approach? To search out out, we requested Susan Powers, a professor of sustainable environmental methods at Clarkson College about her work evaluating the environmental affect of tampons, sanitary pads and menstrual cups.

What’s a menstrual cup?

A menstrual cup is a kind of reusable female hygiene product. It is a small, versatile bell-shaped cup made from rubber or silicone {that a} lady inserts into her vagina to catch and acquire menstrual fluid. It may be used for as much as 12 hours, after which it’s eliminated to eliminate the fluid and cleaned. The cup is rinsed with sizzling water and cleaning soap between every insertion and sterilized in boiling water not less than as soon as per interval. A cup can final as much as 10 years.

Though menstrual cups have been round for many years, they traditionally have been much less standard than pads or tampons.

Are menstrual cups rising in recognition?

Sure, their recognition is rising as girls, in addition to males, change into extra comfy coping with and discussing menstruation. They’ve been a subject in information media starting from Teen Vogue to NPR. One other a part of their rising recognition stems from the basic public’s concern about stable waste related to any disposable product, together with disposable pads and tampons.

You’ve been researching the life cycle of various female hygiene merchandise. What’s a life cycle evaluation and what have your research proven?

A life cycle evaluation supplies a broad accounting and analysis of all the supplies, vitality and processes related to the uncooked supplies in a product, together with their extraction, manufacture, use and disposal. Impacts thought of embody local weather change, pure useful resource depletion, human toxicity and ecotoxicity, amongst others.

I’ve labored for a number of years on a vary of those assessments for shopper merchandise and vitality and agricultural methods. When Clarkson Honors Program scholar Amy Hait approached me about her thought of finishing a life cycle evaluation on female hygiene merchandise, I used to be intrigued and completely satisfied to work carefully along with her to finish the examine and publish the ends in the journal Assets, Conservation & Recycling.

We in contrast three merchandise: a rayon-based tampon with a plastic applicator, a maxipad with a cellulose and polyethylene absorbent core and a menstrual cup made from silicone.

The evaluation additionally included packaging supplies and the processes to make and transport these supplies. To be able to make a good comparability amongst merchandise, we seemed on the variety of merchandise utilized by a mean lady in a single yr. Based mostly on revealed common values, that might be 240 tampons or maxipads. A menstrual cup has a 10-year lifespan, so its use for one yr is the equal of one-tenth of the general manufacturing and disposal affect.

Our evaluation included eight completely different classes to guage the general environmental affect. These embody measuring the impacts on the atmosphere and human well being.

The life cycle affect evaluation supplies quantitative scores for the impacts of every of those individually. We additionally used normalization components for the USA to allow us to give you a complete affect rating. Increased scores mirror better general impacts.

Is utilizing a menstrual cup extra environmentally sustainable?

The outcomes of the life cycle evaluation clearly confirmed that the reusable menstrual cup was by far the very best based mostly on all environmental metrics. Based mostly on the full affect rating, the maxipad we thought of in our examine had the very best rating, indicating greater impacts. The tampon had a 40% decrease rating and the menstrual cup 99.6% decrease. The important thing issue for the excessive rating for the maxipad was its better weight and the manufacture of the uncooked supplies to make it.

Most individuals select a reusable product as a result of they imagine it will not add waste to landfills. However our examine exhibits that the majority environmental advantages are from the lowered want to organize all the uncooked supplies and manufacture the product.

Taking the tampon for instance, the extraction and preparation of the uncooked supplies used to make it contributed over 80% of the full affect. Disposal, which individuals typically pay extra consideration to, actually contributes considerably solely to water air pollution, which is a really minor part of the general affect.

The life cycle evaluation additionally identifies generally shocking sources of environmental and well being impacts, together with dioxins from bleaching wooden pulp for pads, zinc from rayon manufacturing for tampons and chromium emissions from fossil gasoline vitality sources. By not having to supply extra single-use merchandise, we are able to keep away from emitting many of those pollution.

As with all different shopper items, the impacts related to the manufacture and disposal of merchandise are vastly lowered the extra instances you reuse something. Utilizing a reuseable cup for even only one month as an alternative of the typical 20 pads or tampons was nonetheless an environmentally preferable strategy.

What is completed to encourage the usage of a extra sustainable female hygiene product?

The taboo nature of speaking about menstruation is altering with younger girls, not less than in the USA. Ladies at Clarkson College, for instance, labored with a cup producer to supply a really public giveaway program to distribute free cups to over 100 school college students. That will by no means have occurred once I was a scholar a long time in the past. Many health-related websites like WebMD and Healthline present related and dependable data on the right use and care of menstrual cups, which ought to assist to scale back considerations over their use and encourage extra girls to attempt them.

Analysis forecasts environmental catastrophe because of the disposal of menstrual merchandise in India

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Menstrual cups are a less expensive, extra sustainable approach for girls to deal with durations than tampons or pads (2021, September 16)
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