Close to 20 billion sanitary napkins, tampons and applicators are dumped into North American landfills every year.  When wrapped in plastic bags, feminine hygiene waste can take centuries to biodegrade. The average woman uses over 11,000 tampons over her lifetime, leaving behind residue far beyond her lifespan. 
This colossal waste burden however, isn’t the only ecological impact of disposable feminine hygiene products. A Life Cycle Assessment of tampons conducted by the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, found that the largest impact on global warming was caused by the processing of LDPE (low-density polyethylene, a thermoplastic made from the monomer ethylene) used in tampon applicators as well as in the plastic back-strip of a sanitary napkin requiring high amounts of fossil fuel generated energy.  A year’s worth of a typical feminine hygiene product leaves a carbon footprint of 5.3 kg CO2 equivalents. 
Exhibit 1 
Over 50% of the world’s population menstruates, and yet conversations about feminine hygiene and the ecological impact of product choices woman make in the space, wasn’t spoken about. In fact, the taboo surrounding menstrual periods stunted the development of new products in the space with little to no innovations for over 80 years. 
Major corporations such like Johnson & Johnson and Procter & Gamble have argued that ther would be tremendous friction involved in shifting consumer behavior away from disposable products to reusable ones. Ultimately, driven by profit motives, it seems unlikely these companies would shift towards a reusable product line. Menstrual cups, reusable pads and sponges are readily available but haven’t gained much traction so far. Born out of a need to reduce this ecological footprint, Natracare, founded in 1989, was the world’s first environmentally responsible yet disposable alternative to the conventional tampon or pad. 
Natracare manufactures organic pads and tampons made from sustainable materials that are compostable, biodegradable and a 100% plastic free. The company’s mission is to research, develop and monitor sustainable solutions for reducing the environmental impact of feminine hygiene products and waste. They are highly conscious about sustainably sourcing from raw material producers that share their mission and manage resources respectfully. By eliminating the use of fossil fuel energy required to process plastic for production as well as creating a biodegradable product that doesn’t clog landfills, Natracare has significantly reduced the carbon footprint of its products.  A typical woman’s use of Natracare products will generate a carbon footprint of 3.4 kg CO2 equivalents a year, a roughly 35% reduction to the impact she would have caused by using a conventional tampon or pad.
There is an urgent need to innovate and find sustainable and yet practical solutions to feminine hygiene challenges. The problem with stigma is that it often denies women a vocabulary to deal with the issues around menstrual health and hygiene. Open dialogue is the first step in changing the way women deal with menstruation and can create awareness around the need make a switch.
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 Natracare | Organic & Natural Feminine Hygiene. 2016. Our Story – Natracare. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.natracare.com/our-story/. [Accessed 03 November 2016].
 Natracare | Organic & Natural Feminine Hygiene. 2016. Plastic Free – Natracare. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.natracare.com/why-natracare/plastic-free/. [Accessed 03 November 2016].