On any given day, more than 300 million women and people born with a uterus are menstruating worldwide.
For those who have access to menstrual products, sanitary pads are the most commonly used. Pads comprise the largest share of menstrual and sanitary protection products, driving 95% of growth between 2020 and 2025.
Now imagine this - on average, a menstruator will use up to 17,000 pads in their lifetime. That’s a lot of pads! As consumers move towards a more eco-friendly lifestyle and become more mindful of product ingredients, a question arises: Are pads compostable?
In this article, we’ll dive into the compostability of pads and discuss how long it takes to decompose them!
So, What Are Pads?
A sanitary pad, also known as a sanitary napkin or menstrual pad, is a thin pad made from absorbent materials worn by menstruators during their period to manage the menstrual flow and absorb blood.
They come in different shapes and sizes, ranging in their capacity to absorb light to heavy menstrual bleeding and flow.
Are Pads Compostable?
A common question that arises is whether pads can be composted, and the answer is: it depends. Conventional pads are made from up to 90% crude oil plastics, making them not compostable or biodegradable.
Conventional pads are also single-use, taking up to 800 years to fully decompose and releasing harmful chemicals into the environment. However, plastic-free menstrual products made from natural biodegradable materials can be composted.
For example, Aruna is developing a sustainable menstrual pad using food and crop waste, making them 100% compostable.
How Long Does It Take To Compost?
If you’re looking at compostable menstrual pads, you may want to understand how long it takes for them to decompose. According to Menstrual Health Alliance India, one traditional sanitary pad could decompose in 500 to 800 years as non-biodegradable plastic is used.
With compostable pads on the market, the time to decompose diminishes significantly from 12-15 months.
Brands like Aruna Revolution are setting the bar high with a 100% compostable pad that decomposes in 30 days.
How To Compost Pads
Sustainable menstrual pads can be composted both at home and industrially. If you don’t have a composting facility in your community, you can easily throw them in your own compost pile, where it will break down and help enrich your soil with vital nutrients.
Designate an area to make yourself a compost bin (or buy one!). Make sure the conditions are ideal - warm and damp. Mix a combination of “brown” and “green” compost in your bin.
Things like organic tampons, paper, cardboard, egg cartons, and plant stalks are considered “brown” compost. “Green” compost includes softer, damper, and less fibrous materials like grass cuttings, leaves, and vegetables.
Compostable Menstrual Pads by Aruna
Innovating sustainable menstrual pads is crucial for mitigating global climate change and ecological harm. Although we cannot stop using menstrual products entirely, we can replace them with an environmentally responsible option.
Aruna, an up-and-coming brand in sustainable menstrual products, has a mission to empower menstruators and reduce our carbon footprint. These pads are made from natural and biodegradable materials, ensuring that they break down quickly without harming the environment.
Final Thoughts on Compostable Pads
As you begin to explore the different types of pads, you’ll conclude that not all pads are made compostable.
Traditional pads made from plastic and synthetic materials are unsuitable for composting. However, a sustainable alternative made from natural and biodegradable materials will be perfect for composting.
One important thing to note is that all compostable materials are biodegradable, but not all biodegradable materials are compostable. Understanding the key differences between biodegradable and compostable pads will help you decide which brands are best for you.
Whichever route you take, getting this far into the article means you’re taking the right step forward, living a more sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle.