You Can Compost Your Period Products – Here's How

In 2020, it’s easier than ever to have an eco-friendly period.

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Periods are a natural part of life, but the products we use to manage them can do serious damage to the environment.

Globally, more than 45 billion menstrual products are used every year, according to eco-friendly period company Natracare. Some end up in landfill, while 1.4 million tampons are flushed down the loo every day in the UK alone.

Conventional pads and tampons tend to contain plastic, meaning they pollute the environments they end up in and also take a lot of energy to manufacture.

But in 2020, it’s easier than ever to have an eco-friendly period, with reusable options such as Mooncups and period pants, and dozens of companies offering organic, plastic-free alternatives to typical pads and tampons.

One benefit of the latter is that they can actually be composted, says Lucy Lettice, co-founder of eco-friendly period brand &SISTERS.

If you want to compost your period products, opt for organic cotton tampons, liners and pads, which are compostable and biodegradable, she says.

Lettice’s company is among an ever-growing list of brands selling such products – Callaly, Dame, Freda, TOTM and Superdrug’s eco-friendly range, Luna, are all worth checking out.

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Composting organic cotton pads and tampons is easy, says Lettice. If you want to give it a go, here are her tips for getting started:

1. Start by creating the ideal conditions – i.e. warm and damp – by making a bin (find out how to with our guide) or buying one. Adding to your compost bin regularly, ensures the optimum conditions.

2. It’s a good idea to have a balance of both ‘brown’ and ‘green’ compost in your bin. Organic cotton tampons, pads and liners are considered to be ‘brown’ compost along with paper, cardboard, egg cartons and more fibrous plant stalks and stems. These take longer to break down than ‘green’ compost, so it’s a good idea to cut or pull these apart before putting them in the compost bin.

‘Green’ compost – not surprisingly, given its name – includes softer, damper less fibrous materials such as grass cuttings, leaves and vegetable pairings, which all break down relatively quickly.

3. Be prepared to wait. Although period products are compostable, they can take at least 18 months to completely break down and for nature’s building blocks to be returned to the soil.

With such a long compost time, is it worth it? Lettice argues yes, when you think about how many period products you’ll use in a lifetime.

“Every woman can use over 16,000 period products during her lifetime,” she says. “So living lightly and avoiding sending these to landfill can drastically improve your carbon footprint and go towards helping save the planet.”