What’s the carbon footprint of your menstrual products?

By Holly Johnson | May 23, 2022

Menstrual products like pads and tampons typically have a large carbon footprint

Gabrielle Westhead shares insights into a new report that highlights the impact of our menstrual products

Did you know that one year’s worth of disposable pads and tampons for one person produces 8.9kg of CO2 emissions, the same as charging a mobile phone more than 1,000 times?

Typically, from your menarche (first period), your period amounts to a carbon footprint through the period products you use.

There are multiple factors that contribute to a product’s carbon footprint, including manufacturing processes, materials, shipping, recycling commitments and carbon offset initiatives.

The problem with disposable menstrual products

Disposable products are packed with plastic, from the string on a tampon or the absorbent base in a sanitary pad, to the applicators and individual wrap packaging.

Wider use of reusable menstrual products is encouraged more and more, including reusable period pants – pants that contain the technology to absorb your period but look like regular underwear, and can last up to 2 years.

Commissioned by WUKA, the UK’s leading reusable period pants brand, Carbon Footprint has carried out a full investigation into the carbon footprint of disposable menstrual products. 

The report (a short version of which can be viewed and downloaded here) found that switching from single-use disposable period products to reusable period pants will reduce your carbon footprint by six times compared to pads and four times compared to tampons.

To date, WUKA customers have prevented over 3,500 tonnes of CO2, which is equivalent to planting 60,000 trees.

And then there’s the plastic waste; just one pair of WUKA period pants can save 200 single-use plastic-riddled disposables from going to landfill or polluting our oceans.

We can all help reduce menstrual waste

Ruby Raut, co-founder of WUKA, says: “If 15 million women and individuals who menstruate in the UK switched to WUKA period pants, we could reduce carbon emissions by 4.2 million tonnes.

That’s equal to more than 2.5 million return economy class flights from London to New York. Every WUKA product has a carbon footprint five times less than the disposable pads and tampons it replaces.”

WUKA is the first Carbon Neutral+ period pants brand. By using sustainable materials, WUKA keeps its carbon footprint naturally small and, any carbon we can’t yet displace, they offset. 

They use the highest quality sustainable materials in their underwear, including GOTS organic cotton, TENCEL™ Modal (extracted from naturally grown beech wood) and ECONYL® regenerated nylon (made from plastic waste from our oceans).

Despite period pants being a sustainable period product, the UK Government abolished VAT applied to women’s menstrual products but failed to put period pants in this category. To make it easier for consumers to financially access period pants, Ruby Raut has made it her further mission to lobby the government to axe period pants tax to end “period poverty” and make period products accessible to anyone. 

WUKA products are created with the planet in mind, using the highest quality sustainable fabrics to benefit the body and the environment. From the Better Cotton Initiative, Organic Certified, to Vegan, PETA approved and certified Carbon Neutral+, WUKA underwear is all accredited and designed with the future in mind. Find out more at wuka.co.uk.

Get more tips on reducing the impact of your health and beauty routine.