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What does Sustainable Period Care Really Mean?

Ruby Moon x Nadya Eddy from Team August | 6.10.2022

HAPPY 1 YEAR OF AUGUST PRODUCT

We're celebrating one full year as a period care brand!

Since our products biodegrade within a year, we are also saying goodbye to all of our tampons and pads that hit landfills a year ago today!

Thank you to everyone who has supported us this past year and helped us save the equivalent of 350k+ plastic bags from landfills.

Still curious about the concept of ‘Sustainable period products’? You’re probably thinking about the typical crinkly plastic pads that you’ve grown up with…Well, this article is gonna demonstrate why August products are the healthy choice for both the planet AND for you!

Disclaimer: We are not trying to shame anyone’s choice (or lack thereof) of period products.

The goal of sustainable period care, at least in August’s eyes, is NOT to shame someone for the type of period product that they use. Especially considering the approximately 500 million people around the world who are facing period poverty, and therefore don’t have a choice in period products. August is trying to challenge this stat by reimagining and democratizing period care to be more inclusive, accessible, AND one that considers the environment, all while maintaining its quality. Be mindful not to shame anyone as you encourage your menstruating friends to explore more sustainable options.

Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s get into it.

Why are period products bad for the environment?

Most products take 500-800 years to decompose and are made with the equivalent of 3-5 plastic bags. Since pads have only been around for about 100 years – shoutout to Mary Beatrice Kenner for changing the game with sanitary pads – this means that every plastic-filled period product EVER worn is STILL sitting atop our Earth right now.

What is sustainable menstruation?

Over half the global population will menstruate, and with 93% of people favoring tampons and pads, this results in a lot of waste. In the United States alone, approximately 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons go to landfills each year, where they remain for the next 500-800 years (Stanford Mag). To combat the amount of plastic waste hitting landfills each month, there are lots of options for you to choose from to have a sustainable or more Earth-conscious period.

Are menstrual products biodegradable?

Not all menstrual products are biodegradable. Things like the silicone from menstrual cups, non-organic cotton from traditional tampons and pads, or synthetic materials from period underwear are non-biodegradable.

How can I be more sustainable on my period?

Lots of sustainable period care options have recently stepped into the mainstream. However, even though options like period underwear, menstrual cups, menstrual disks are readily available, tampons and pads continue to be the most popular choice. For those that aren’t a fan of menstrual cups and reusable pads, August's biodegradable period products are an easy switch to your routine to have a more sustainable menstruation routine.

What are sustainable period products?

Sustainable period products are those that have reduced impact on the environment by avoiding the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance. Although we don’t shame anyone for the period products that they choose to use, August believes that we can reimagine standard period care to remain accessible while pursuing global environmental sustainability.

August currently offers customizable subscription boxes of biodegradable pads & tampons. While most pads and tampons take centuries to decompose, our environmentally friendly pads are plastic-free and, due to their natural materials (read up on the Traceability page!), biodegrade within a year. Our current tampon offering has a BPA-free recyclable plastic applicator but, just like our pads, the cotton part itself also biodegrades within 1 year.

Other sustainable menstrual product offerings include:

  • Period Underwear: Made of a material similar to a thick bathing suit, period underwear is absorbent underwear that you can wear to care for your period.
  • Menstrual cups: Menstrual cups are silicone cups that sit inside of your vagina and collect period blood. They can be worn for up to 12 hours and need to be hand washed and boiled between uses to kill bacteria. They should be repurchased every 3-5 years.
  • Reusable pads: Similar to the size and shape of regular menstrual pads, reusable pads are made of cloth and are machine washable.
  • Menstrual disks: Menstrual discs are a bendy ring with clear plastic material between the disc that catched all of your period blood. While this device looks intimidating, don’t worry! It sits at the widest part of your vagina.

Like we said before, August’s community of Gen Z menstruators made it very clear that they wanted to explore more sustainable versions of pads, tampons and liners, and that they weren’t ready to transition to other sustainable period products just yet. So, we listened to our community and innovated on what already existed!

Are standard tampons sustainable? How long does a tampon take to decompose?

Only 100% organic cotton tampons (like ours!) are biodegradable. Non-organic and plastic filled tampons can take 500-800 years to decompose. Standard tampons are not always sustainable when made with synthetics and plastic netting that doesn't biodegrade.

Can you compost period products?

Because of bloodborne pathogens, period blood is not recommended for compost. Even though we couldn't make our pads and tampons compostable, we were still able to make our pad wrappers compostable. Compostable items are made of organic and nutrient rich materials. The benefit of compost is that we can use it as a fertilizer that can improve soil health. August wanted our ‘waste’ to be able to serve a purpose. Our pad wrappers are now a nutritious meal for a growing plant.

PSA: Although our pad wrappers are meltable in boiling water, be sure to let your wrapper turn to dirt before feeding it to your plants! Your plants won’t be as happy with a hot soupy mixture being poured into them…

What determines whether a menstrual product is sustainable?

A sustainable menstrual product is one that avoids the depletion of natural resources and chooses alternative materials that last longer and have a smaller impact on the environment in order to maintain an ecological balance.

Why are August's period products considered more sustainable than typical pads & tampons?

Check out a breakdown of our environmentally friendly tampons and pads HERE! TLDR; the main difference is that August products are made of ethically sourced 100% organic cotton and other natural materials that allow for them to biodegrade within 12 months. Plus, our production, manufacturing, packaging, and shipping all have carbon neutrality and reduction in mind.

What is a carbon footprint?

First off, greenhouse gasses are any gasses that trap heat in Earth’s atmosphere. While they are key to keeping the Earth warm and inhabitable, the increasing levels of carbon emitted by modern methods of production have had serious environmental repercussions. Measured in weight, any action you take and product you use has a carbon footprint.

Why should we care about carbon footprints?

Carbon goes up into the atmosphere, and travels all over the world, having detrimental effects on the environment. This is why reducing our carbon footprint requires global action, not just from individuals, but from industry leaders and all companies.

What does August do to keep carbon emissions low?

  • We use organic cotton which has a lower carbon footprint than conventional cotton
  • Our products travel by boat instead of by plane and our containers are not shipped unless completely full
  • We invest in Carbon Offsetting and are “Carbonfree” certified by our partner: Carbonfund.org

We saw a flaw in carbon offsetting efforts by most brands who choose to plant trees…trees can take up to 25 YEARS to reach a size where they can actually offset carbon – and our climate crisis is happening RIGHT NOW. With the help of our friends at EcoCart, we were able to choose from a range of Gold Standard verified and UN Development Goal certified projects that are actively reducing carbon emissions. August now proudly supports the Sidrap Wind Farm in South Sulawesi, Indonesia. This wind farm reduces air pollution by replacing coal and other fossil fuel sources of power with clean, renewable energy. Read more about this project HERE.

  • We provide a subscription option to receive 3 months of product at a time
  • We ship from a local fulfillment center instead of directly from manufacturers

Read more in our latest Sustainability & Impact report found on the Traceability Page!

What is Carbon Offsetting?

Think of carbon emissions like cutting down a tree, and carbon offsetting as planting two more trees to replace it. We will be investing in carbon offsets to fund renewable energy programs and neutralize our carbon emissions back to net zero. However, purchasing carbon offsets doesn’t give us a license to be careless with our carbon footprint. We will continue to make thoughtful and deliberate efforts at each level of production to ensure we are limiting carbon emissions wherever possible.

What is carbon neutrality?

Carbon neutrality is achieved by investing in carbon initiatives that equal the amount or carbon your product emits during its production.

So…how can I find sustainable period products?

Look no further! August period care prides ourselves in our sustainable pads, tampons & liners! And in full transparency, we know we’re not the most sustainable period product offering, however, we are committed to taking feedback from our tight-knit community to continue evolving our products to the needs of our users. In true Gen Z spirit – we’re learning and unlearning as we reimagine period care for ALL menstruators.

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