The social and environmental impact of single-use and reusable menstrual products

At Azure Belle we provide reusable eco friendly leakproof period swimwear with the aim of reducing the need for single use menstrual products for women when swimming. 

Currently the most popular types of single use menstrual product are also the most detrimental to the natural environment, particularly due to the amount of hidden plastic in disposable menstrual products.

It is estimated that tampons, which are the preferred choice in Western Europe and the US, are used by 100 million women globally, each using on average 11,000 of them in their lifetime.

It has been estimated that a regular non-organic pad can take 500–800 years to break down and as plastic makes up such a large amount of these products, they will never truly biodegrade.

Image: City Services ACT Menstrual Products and Sustainability


Public awareness of the environmental impact of menstrual products

We’ve summarised an insightful Study into Public Awareness of the Environmental Impact of Menstrual Products and Product Choice:

Tampons are significantly quicker to biodegrade at around six months, as they are mostly made from natural materials such as cotton. However, as many brands of tampon now contain plastic within them and are often wrapped in plastic, this compounds the issue. These estimations of degradation are based on respirometry tests in lab conditions, so in reality, what actually happens to these products in landfill could be very different, as there is often a lack of oxygen making them unlikely to degrade.

Much of the plastic used in disposable pads and tampons is polyethylene and most microorganisms do not recognize this material as food, so do not decompose it. Polyethylene can break down into smaller pieces as a result of photodegradation, but once the material is buried in landfill, there is very little light available for this to occur.

Disposable products that do not make it to landfill can end up in our oceans or washed up on our beaches, where they create a different problem. Plastic tampon applicators are commonly found on beaches and even inside the stomachs of dead seabirds.

Plastic applicators and other menstrual products containing plastic can play a part in another set of problems. Slowly, with the presence of light, they can break down into smaller fragments and eventually become secondary microplastics. Microplastics are small pieces of plastic less than 5 mm in size, now found in the most remote marine environments and they can pose a serious threat to marine systems and human health. Lusher et al. found that 36.5% of fish sampled in the English Channel contained microplastics.

You can read more here about the Study into Public Awareness of the Environmental Impact of Menstrual Products and Product Choice:

The Value of Reusable feminine hygiene products

 Feminine hygiene products such as period underwear and period swimwear have measurable impacts to human and environmental health. By employing a comparative life cycle assessment, the relative impacts for three menstrual products were determined across eight impact categories. Disposable tampons and sanitary pads had far greater impacts across each category than the reusable menstrual cup. 

Learn more about The value of reusable feminine hygiene products evaluated by comparative environmental life cycle assessment, a research study conducted by Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY, USA and Institute for a Sustainable Environment, Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY, USA


Where the education system and women's bodies collide: The social and health impact of girls' experiences of menstruation and schooling in Tanzania


 This study explored the social context of girls' experiences of menses and schooling in northern Tanzania, with data collection focused on capturing girls' voiced concerns and recommendations. Results indicated that pubescent girls are confronted with numerous challenges to managing menses within the school environment. Read more about The social and health impact of girls' experiences of menstruation and schooling in Tanzania


Share the dignity

Share the dignity believes that everyone deserves to be afford the dignity so many of us take for granted. Their work directly benefits those in crisis experiencing period poverty. 

Share the Dignity is a women's charity in Australia, that works to make a real difference in the lives of those experiencing homelessness, fleeing domestic violence, or doing it tough.
They distribute period products to women, girls, and anyone who menstruates who needs support. When someone is doing it tough, the last thing on their mind should be dealing with their period.

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Ending The Shame and Stigma

At Share the Dignity, they know that without ending the shame and stigma that clouds periods, we cannot end period poverty. They work hard each year to not only distribute products but to advocate for change, work with researches to explore the issues people experiencing period poverty face, and to educate people on the realities of period poverty.

Something they (and all females!) should be extremely proud of, is ending the unfair tampon tax. Read more about ending the shame and stigma.

Azure Belle Period Swimwear

Shop our range of ladies and teen eco-friendly and sustainable period swimwear, choose from comfy leakproof period bikini's, one piece period swimsuits and period bikini bottoms– shop now.  

At Azure Belle we recognise that periods are highly personal and each woman is in a unique phase of her own journey.

Our eco-friendly leak-proof period swimwear provides a stylish, discreet option so you have the freedom to enjoy every day, even when you have your period.

Our period swimwear is suitable for light to moderate days of your period. It is designed in Australia, by women for women. It has been rigorously tested by world leading, globally certified laboratories to ensure ultimate comfort, confidence, and leak-proof protection.

Because our comfy ladies and teen leakproof period bikini's, one piece period swimsuits and period bikini bottoms can simply be washed and re-worn, you can reduce your environmental footprint unlike using tampons and single-use sanitary products that contribute to waste. 

Try our period swimwear today and feel confident with our 100% Happiness Guarantee.

Learn more about how period swimwear works.

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