Are Sanitary Pads Biodegradable? 5 Eco-Friendly Alternatives For A Healthy Period

Make the switch today.

Between mood swings, cramps, and nausea, the last thing you need is uncomfortable period products. And definitely, not the non-eco-friendly kind! 

At GoodGuilt, we totally support “free bleeding” and are not asking you to wear a pad or a tampon during your cycle. But if you’re tired of experiencing health issues like UTIs, you’re probably doing something wrong. 

Honestly, all we want for you is to have a comfortable period without worrying about yet another thing like, “how do I dispose of this pad?” 

We know that periods can be bothersome, and so is pad disposal. This guide looks at why conventional sanitary napkins are bad for you (and the planet), ways to dispose of them, and a few eco-friendly alternatives.

Are regular sanitary napkins biodegradable? Are they good for you?

are sanitary pads biodegradable
Karolina Grabowska / Pexels

Sure, sanitary napkins are menstrual products that are the easiest to find, buy, and use. The big question is: are you actually doing the right thing for your body and the environment by using these conventional pads? Let’s find out. 

Unfortunately, regular sanitary pads have BPA, toxins, and other chemicals that can cause you to experience even more uncomfortable periods. This leads to allergies, urinary tract infections, and irritation in the vaginal area. Sadly, it may even lead to cancer over time. (Bad for your health, alert!) 

These sanitary napkins also have up to 90% plastic and other chemical by-products. Not just that, once you dispose of them, these toxic materials take around 600–800 years to decompose. (Terrible for the planet, alert!)

Facts about regular sanitary pads

Most of us are so used to sanitary pads that we often ignore the fact that they are NOT our ideal period buddies. For an eco-friendly cycle, below are some period facts that you need to know about today.

woman holding sanitary napkin
Hazal Ak / Getty Images

1. Regular sanitary pads have tons of chemicals 

We don’t mean to scare you, but there are tons of chemicals in your pads that can affect your menstrual health. To answer, are scented pads safe? Definitely no.   

The deodorants in these pads can cause infertility and birth defects. Sanitary napkins also contain synthetic materials that lead to the growth of bacteria and yeast, something you don’t want to go through.

2. Sanitary pads are not 100% compostable

We know it’s a hard pill to swallow, but your conventional pads are not entirely compostable. They’re made of cotton, plastic fibers, and wood pulp, which makes them toxic to the planet.  

Even if some biodegradable pads don’t contain these materials, they’re not 100% compostable. This is because some amount of plastic is included in them for waterproofing.

3. Composting sanitary napkins is tricky and complicated

Of course, a (partly) compostable pad is better than a regular one. But what if a compost pit is not available? Tricky, right! 

On average, a person disposes of around 16,800 pads in their lifetime. Now imagine the size of the compost bin that is needed to compost these non-biodegradable and non-recyclable pads every month. 

Long story short, conventional sanitary pads are a big problem. Still don’t believe us? Read on.

Why pad disposal is such a problem today?

sanitary pads disposal
Karolina Grabowska / Pexels

Most people wrap their used pads in plastic or paper and throw them out, along with the other trash. Unfortunately, some even throw them into water bodies or flush them down the drain. These dumped sanitary napkins end up in landfills and get picked by animals and birds, causing them harm and leading to water and land pollution.

You can, however, make your period and the planet green, with sanitary pad disposal methods that are mentioned below.

5 ways to dispose of sanitary napkins

disposing sanitary pads
Evgeniy Skripnichenko / Getty Images

If you already know by now that traditional sanitary pads are bad for you, you can always switch to other menstrual products. However, if you believe that they are something to which you can’t bid adieu, then make sure to dispose of them the right way.

  1. Fold and wrap the used napkins: After use, fold and wrap the soiled sanitary napkins in newspaper or toilet paper. You can also use the wrapper of your next pad to wrap your used sanitary pad to keep the flies and bacteria at bay.
  2. Buy a disposal bag designed for feminine hygiene products: Once you wrap the pads up, put them into disposal bags. You can easily find them in the feminine hygiene sections online or at your local drugstore. Alternatively, even diaper disposal bags are a good option.
  3. Throw the used pads in the sanitary napkin disposal machine: The used sanitary napkins do not belong to either dry or wet wastes. They need to be thrown in the biohazard bins, also known as sanitary napkin disposal machines. You can always have a separate bin for these used pads.
  4. Cover the lid of the bin: Always make sure the bin you throw your pads into has a proper lid. Fold the mouth of the bag with your used pad and cover the bin tight.
  5. Never flush them down the toilet: As a rule of thumb, never flush your soiled pads down the toilet. You may block the pipeline, leading to an overflow in your bathroom.

Sanitary pads and their disposal can be quite tiresome for many; we get that.  
If you are done having health issues and are tired of disposing of them the right way, we have good news for you. These five sustainable alternatives to sanitary napkins will make your period a little better.

5 sustainable alternatives to sanitary pads

From menstrual cups and period panties to organic tampons—you know you are in for good with these eco-friendly menstrual alternatives.

1. Bio-degradable sanitary napkins

biodegradable sanitary pads
RifCare / Instagram

If you can’t get rid of sanitary napkins altogether, we can relate.

Thanks to biodegradable sanitary pads, an almost plastic-free period is now possible. These pads have zero (or less) plastic in them, in contrast to regular menstrual napkins. Biodegradable pads also work best if a menstrual insertion product is not your strong suit. 

We vouch for period brands like Rif Care and Moon Pads. We love that their sanitary pads are biodegradable, organic, and free of chemicals and fragrances. Get ready for a comfortable and leak-free period with organic cotton and hemp pads from these brands.

Our Good Picks: 

2. Plastic-free, eco-friendly tampons

eco-friendly tampons

If tampons are something that you cannot stop using, here’s a great find! 

Introducing the less messy, reusable, and eco-friendly alternative for you — plastic-free tampons. 

Most tampons have a plastic layer that absorbs the blood flow. But eco-friendly tampons are made of organic cotton and plant fibers. They are great for better absorption while being good for your vagina and the planet.  

You can trust them with your health as they do not contain any fragrances or chemicals, so the risk of infection is quite low. Even better, they do not come with plastic applicators! 

Say yes to plastic-free periods at Natracare, where you can find amazing period pads, panty liners, and organic tampons. One product we swear by is their absorbent cotton tampons. They are plastic-free, biodegradable, and compostable. (Love it!) 

At Dame, you can find more menstrual products like reusable pads and period pants. We are currently obsessed with their 100% GOTS-certified organic tampons, which can give you less painful periods. These tampons are free from toxins and help prevent infection risks, as well.

Our Good Picks:

3. Reusable sanitary cloth pads

reusable sanitary pads
TreeHuggerClothPads / Instagram

Menstrual hygiene is a must. We totally know!  

Now, what if we told you that for your next period, you could opt for reusable sanitary cloth pads that are hygienic and safe to use? They are a fun, zero-waste alternative to your regular sanitary pad. 

Being quite similar looking to your conventional pad, they can last you for years. All you have to do is rinse them in water and wash them separately from the rest of your laundry.

We absolutely love that brands like Tree Hugger Cloth Pads offer them in fun prints. You can finally have an easy period with this store that provides water-resistant cloths for both light and heavy flow. 

Rovtop, another amazing feminine menstrual products brand, also offers menstrual towels that come in different sizes and shapes. Their set of pads has a button on the side of the wings to keep the cushion in place. They are your ultimate eco-friendly menstrual buddies! Their $27 pad sets even come wrapped in kraft paper cartons. 

Our Good Picks:

4. Period pants

eco-friendly period pants by thinx
Thinx / Instagram

Before taking the plunge into period pants, one thing you would be glad to know is they’re far more eco-friendly than disposable panties, tampons, and pads.  

Period panties are made from eco-friendly materials (recycled cotton) and can last for up to 2 years when taken care of. They promote free bleeding and are designed to look like your regular panties, but they have four layers for extra protection 😛 

Check out Modibodi and Thinx, some of the most popular menstrual brands offering period pants. Thinx’s award-winning comfortable period panty is designed to replace your disposable period products. 

Modibodi, on the other hand, offers sizes from XS to 4X in their ultra-comfy modal cotton panties that are easy on the planet and your vagina. 

Our Good Picks:

5.  Menstrual cups

woman holding menstrual cup
Cottonbro / Pexels

Some of us are so used to menstrual cups that sanitary pads were never even an option. For those at the other end of the spectrum, read How Switching To A Menstrual Cup Changed My Life. Being your ultimate go-to period partners, did you know that these cups are also extremely sustainable? 

Menstrual cups are affordable and can be used for up to 10 effin years. Yes, you heard that right! These cups are made of silicone that is FDA-approved. Unlike tampons, they aren’t absorbent. In fact, they collect menstrual blood that you need to empty at the end of the day (once every 12 hours), then rinse and use again. 

With the increased demands, brands like Shordy and Cora are doing their best to provide you with the best menstrual cups. 

You can use Shordy’s feminine menstrual products, including their cup, by sterilizing and reusing it every month. The best bit is it will fit you naturally. 

Cora’s soft silicone cup is so user-friendly that you will never want to get rid of it. Also, did you know its cup was rated “Best Menstrual Cup for Beginners” by Wirecutter?

Our Good Picks:

eco-friendly reusable sanitary pads
Oksana Vejus

It is now time to choose sustainable hygiene products because your vagina needs the most care (and so does the planet.) 
For an eco-friendlier flow, check out these period products you would want to use on your next cycle.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Which is the best sanitary pad? 

The best sustainable pads are those that are made from eco-friendly materials like hemp and organic cotton. Brands like Natracare, Always, Organyc, and Tampax have the best sanitary pads for a comfortable period. 

2. Which pads are best for heavy periods?

Organyc, Rael, and Period Aisle offer sanitary pads that work best for days when you have heavy period flows. 

3. Which is better, tampons or pads?

To answer which one is better, honestly, it depends on you. While sanitary napkins are easy to wear and can be easily changed, most people believe tampons are great when doing sports or swimming. In tampons vs sanitary pads, others usually choose menstrual cups! 

4. What are the disadvantages of pads?

The major disadvantages of pads are that they contain chemicals that lead to urogenital infections and vaginal rashes. Conventional pads aren’t eco-friendly, contain fragrances, and can get expensive over time. They are something you definitely don’t want near your vaginal area.

We hope you love the products we recommend! All products featured on GoodGuilt are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our retail links, we may earn a commission on the sale. Oh, and FYI — prices are accurate and items in stock as of the time of publication.

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