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How to make your period more environmentally friendly

Did you know that in a lifetime, the period products you use could be equivalent to 5,500 plastic bags1? Eek!

We’re all looking for ways to be more environmentally conscious and cut back on our plastic usage, from bags for life to recycling.

It’s easy to be greener with kitchen waste but what about in the bathroom? Most of us don’t give our period products much thought, let alone the environmental impact of them which is crazy when you think the products you use monthly could equate to the same amount as 11 plastic bags1. So, if you’d like to swot up on all things eco or cut down on that pesky plastic, we’re here to tell you how a few simple switches can make your period eco-friendlier.

Plastic Infographic

How can I reduce the environmental impact of my period?

The biggest and simplest change you can make is to dispose of period products correctly. In 2019, 3 billion items of disposable sanitary protection were bought in the UK2, that’s around 1.2 billion pads, 1 billion panty liners and 0.62 billion tampons. In a Lil-Lets survey, over half of women admitted to flushing their tampons, which could mean over 0.31 billion tampons flushed down the loo each year… that’s 856,000 per day! Furthermore, 1.3% of the women we surveyed said they flushed pads, which could mean over 43,000 pads are flushed every day.

Pads and tampons don’t break up easily like loo paper, which means they can contribute to blockages in our homes and in wastewater systems, which can make sewers overflow. When they do so, this not only pollutes our communities but also our rivers, beaches and ultimately the ocean. When you’re ready to change your pad or tampon, we recommend you either wrap it in the new pad wrapper or just grab some tissue and wrap it in that instead. Make sure you dispose of it with general household waste or in a sanitary bin and however much you are tempted please don’t flush it down the loo!

How much plastic is in period products?

If you’re an applicator tampon or sanitary pad user then buckle your seatbelts because it’s going to be a bumpy ride! The applicator that comes in most applicator tampons is made from plastic and is single use, which has led many to look for an alternative. 

Did you also know that a sanitary pad can contain as much plastic as an applicator? Many pads contain synthetic materials similar to those used in clothing and underwear (so they’re totally safe and hygienic) but technically speaking these are “plastic”. They can contain a lot of this material, so it’s important to be aware of this if you’re looking to reduce your plastic use.

How can I reduce the amount of my plastic in my period?

The best way is to evaluate the products you use now and consider some alternatives, switch it up a little! For example, Lil-Lets non-applicator tampons contain *no pointless plastic. That means there’s no plastic included where there’s no use or purpose for it. Here at Lil-Lets we've been trying to encourage women to ‘Give plastic the finger’ and try non-applicator tampons because they have the exact same functionality as applicator tampons and absorb just as effectively but they have up to 96% less plastic! It’s a lot easier than you might think and so far, 98,000 women have switched, which means an incredible 28 million less plastic applicators.4 If you’re looking to make the switch we recommend you watch our insertion video here.

If you’d like more options there are lots of products available, from menstrual cups to reusable applicators but it’s important to remember that choice is everything, so don’t feel pressured to use something you’re not comfortable with or that doesn’t suit your lifestyle. Also, please make sure you read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to ensure safe and hygienic use of reusables.

If reusables aren’t your bag, you may want to consider switching to organic products. We’ve got a range of organic pads, liners non-applicator tampons which are certified by the Soil Association and made with 100% organic cotton. What’s more, our organic pads have a backing and wrapper made from corn starch, which is certified compostable and our organic tampon wrappers are fully compostable too! We know that for some of you, organic products are the only choice so we’ve designed our range to be a gentle alternative for managing your period.

As we say, choice is everything and you should never feel guilty about the products you choose if they suit you best. However, it is worth remembering that if you are looking to make your periods greener there are plenty of product options and steps you can take – small changes soon add up!


1. *Based on a lifetime of usage of Lil-Lets compact plastic applicator regular absorbency.
2. *IRI Sanitary Protection Data, Volume Sales, Total Market HBA/OTC, 52 w/e 28th December 2019. (Note that IRI does not include online only sales or discount retailers)
3. *92% - 97% less plastic when comparing Lil-Lets non-applicator tampons to the equivalent absorbency Lil-Lets compact plastic applicator ranges and with Lil-Lets Soft Pads Normal, Long and Night.
4. *52 w/e 14th July 2019, Sanitary Protection Purchase Data, Kantar

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