There is no doubt that reusable feminine pads are the greener choice compared to disposable pads, which can contribute up to 150kg to waste per person in their lifetime. However, how eco-friendly a pad depends entirely on the materials used in making it.
There is a wide range of materials used in making sanitary pads. Some of these washable pads use synthetic fibers which might not sound eco-friendly but since you are reusing them, you are still effectively reducing your monthly waste.
Knowing materials have been used in your pads is one of the most effective ways to ensure that you are minimising your environmental impact.
Natural fabrics in reusable pads
Not all fabrics are created equal, some are more efficient than others which makes it important to know which fabric provides the performance if you want to truly make a difference. For instance, many people are under the impression that cotton is eco-friendly.
But the truth is cotton production is surprisingly unsustainable. Cotton requires large amounts of water for irrigation and is even considered a very pesticide-intensive crop. Moreover, dyed and printed cotton undergoes bleaching and dyeing.
The resulting wastewater from these processes are often being left flowing into waterways. While there are good alternatives like low impact cotton, these cost more than regular cotton.
Another common material used in sanitary pads is bamboo. Bamboo is known as one of the most renewable and sustainable materials because it requires less resources and grows much faster than cotton.
However, bamboo fleeces and velours still undergo a solvent process which could be damaging to our environment.
Hemp is another excellent eco-friendly material used in making pads. It grows quickly and requires less resources like water to grow. It also does not require heavy use of pesticide. The only downside to using hemp as a material is that it is not as soft as cotton and bamboo.
Not all reusable pads are made from natural materials. Some use both natural and synthetic while others are made entirely from synthetic fabrics.
While reusable pads made from synthetic fabrics are not as eco-friendly as those made from natural materials, the fact that you can reuse them for many years means you are reducing your waste significantly.
Minky, suede cloth and zorb are among the most common synthetics used in making reusable pads. These materials are made from microfibres which contribute to the contamination of waterways.
In conclusion, yes reusable sanitary pads are eco friendly. Reusable pads made from natural fibres are more eco-friendly than those made from synthetic fibres. It really comes down to your own preference.
If you want to completely minimise your environmental impact, you would have to choose reusable pads that are entirely made from natural materials like hemp, cotton or bamboo. Even if you buy a reusable pad that is made entirely from natural materials, the fact that they are reusable helps you reduce your waste.