Period leggings, period undies, sustainable cups and now, the biodegradable period pad. You have to hand it to those working in the field of women’s sanitary products, perhaps encouraged by the demand of its consumers who are well informed about the environmental crisis and the urgent threat imposed by climate change, we’re not settling for anything less than environmentally-friendly. And as a result, sanitary products have come to be revolutionised, with sustainable options that don’t harm the planet.
Now, the world’s first flushable period pad has been created by sustainable sanitary brand, Planera. Made of wood pulp fibres and a 100 per cent biodegradable absorbent powder allowing it to be ultra absorbent while remaining safe to flush, the game-changing pad has been tested in the labs for up to 24 hours with a heavy flow.
Granted, we had our fair share of hair-scratching too. It’s hard to imagine a pad that’s flushable also being one that’s absorbent. After all, wouldn’t it just start dissolving in our jeans as soon as our period started? As it turns out, no. A five-day period produces an average of 100mL of blood, but a toilet uses nine litres per flush. For the pad to start breaking down, it needs to be swirled around while soaked in litres of water. Basically, they’ve created a pad that breaks down courtesy of the toilet bowl conditions.
The pad takes less than 30 days to degrade entirely and contains zero micro plastics. In comparison, a non-organic pad will often be 90 per cent plastic and take 500 years to degrade. Even an organic pad will contain micro plastics and take an average of 80 years to degrade.
News of the period pan comes at a time where it’s reported that it takes a tampon longer to degrade than the lifespan of the woman who wears it. The average woman will use over 11,000 disposable, one-time-use menstrual products in her reproductive lifetime that lands up in landfills as plastic waste. According to the National Geographic, our period products came to have plastic incorporated in their design. The publication suggests, “Tampons come wrapped in plastic, encased in plastic applicators, with plastic strings dangling from one end, and many even include a thin layer of plastic in the absorbent part. Pads generally incorporate even more plastic, from the leak-proof base to the synthetics that soak up fluid to the packaging.”
Given that menstruation is an unavoidable reality for women, the fact remains that we need to have products that reflect our own desires to walk lightly on this earth and do all we can to protect the planet. Only recently have we begun to see a shift towards this from many companies. As Planera’s co-founder Aaron Koshy, an engineer who created the company alongside medical doctor Dr Olivia Ahn, explained in an interview with Glamour, “A pad that is used for 8 hours should never remain for 500 years.”
He added, “We spent the last 4 years working with 1500 members of our community to create over 300 iterations of our pad. We learnt from our failures and made some important breakthroughs! Together we developed the only certified flushable pad that breaks down in days, not centuries.”
As Dr Ahn told the publication, “Planera’s promise is that the pad you use today will be gone by your next period.”
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