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Choose organic tampons or organic pads

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Choosing organic tampons or pads will help reduce the environmental damage caused by the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers in the farming of conventional cotton. Many organic products are unbleached or non-chlorine bleached, which limits your personal exposure to dioxin, a probable human carcinogen.

What to look for when choosing organic tampons and pads

  1. The USDA Organic Seal: While the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) maintains clearcut standards for organic food, the same can’t be said for personal care products. Without strict standards, companies can claim that their product is organic and still contain up to 30 percent synthetic or conventional materials. To be sure that the product you choose uses all organic materials, look for the USDA seal or the label "100% Organic" on the box. These labels guarantee that every ingredient is organically produced as defined by the National Organics Standards Board, USDA Organicwhich bans the use of harmful pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and genetic engineering. (Half the cotton grown in the world is genetically modified, and studies have shown that genetically modified organisms pose significant environmental risks and cause some insects to become resistant to pesticides.)[1]
  2. Unbleached sanitary items or those bleached without chlorine: The fibers used to make tampons (cotton and rayon) and pads (processed wood pulp) are usually bleached with chlorine. Chlorine bleaching is a source of dioxin, a known carcinogen that can also, with prolonged exposure, cause endometriosis. Although the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) asserts that the amount of dioxin present in today's tampons is negligible, experts counter that dioxin in tampons is still a concern, as it comes in contact with the most absorbent tissue in the body. The jury is still out because effects of dioxin are cumulative and can therefore be detected in the body 20 to 30 years after exposure.[2]
  3. Tampons and pads from companies that do not employ animal testing: While you're contemplating green attributes, you may also wish to join the cruelty-free movement. Just keep in mind: a company may claim that they don’t employ animal testing for their products, but without third-party verification, it’s hard to know whether these statements are in fact completely true. Leaping BunnySo stick to those products certified as cruelty-free by looking for products with the Leaping Bunny Logo or the Certified Vegan Logo. You can rest assured that no bunnies (or monkeys or cats for that matter) were harmed in the making of these non-animal-tested products.

Find it! Organic tampons and pads

Organic tampons and pads are not necessarily more expensive than their conventional counterparts. Purchasing online may help you find a wider variety and deliver a better price. Or check out health food stores, like Whole Foods or your local co-op, which will most likely carry organic tampons and pads in-store. Also consider buying in bulk—it's cheaper than month-to-month purchases.

Choosing organic tampons and pads helps you go green because...

  • It mitigates the environmental impact that growing conventional cotton for use in tampons and pads creates.
  • Organic farming combats global warming through carbon sequestration.
  • Organic tampons and pads that are not bleached with chlorine limit the creation of and exposure to dioxin.

It is estimated that cotton accounts for 11 percent of all pesticides and 24 percent of all insecticides used globally, even though it's grown on just 2.4 percent of the world’s arable land.[3] In the US, it’s estimated that conventional cotton farms apply about one-third of a pound of chemical fertilizers and pesticides for every pound of cotton harvested.[4] The various chemicals used to treat conventional cotton can harm beneficial insects and soil micro-organisms, pollute ground and surface water, and adversely affect the health of humans and wildlife alike—including fish, birds, and livestock.

Almost half of the chemicals sprayed on global cotton crops annually—an estimated $2 billion worth—are classified as hazardous by the World Health Organization (WHO). Pesticide residues remain in tampons in the form of dioxins and other potentially harmful chemicals. The vaginal walls are made of the most absorbent tissues in the body, so these chemicals are absorbed directly into the blood stream.

Organic farming combats global warming

Organic farming may also be key in fighting global climate change. A study of conventional versus organic farming methods by the Rodale Institute discovered that organic farming combats global warming through carbon sequestration. In agricultural applications, the more organic matter that is retained in the soil, the more carbon is sequestered. While conventional farming depletes organic matter through the use of chemical fertilizers, organic farming uses animal manure and cover crops, which actually build soil organic matter.

Organic farming further reduces atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) by using 37 percent fewer fossil fuels than conventional farming.[5] The Rodale Institute estimates that if all 160 million acres of corn and soybean farmland in the US were switched to organic farming methods, it would be equivalent to removing 58.7 million cars from the road, and would satisfy 73 percent of the proposed US Kyoto targets for CO2 reduction.[6]

Drawbacks

The environmental consequences associated with post-consumer waste generated by disposable pads and tampons still apply even if the products you use are organic.

Related health issues

The most commonly associated health risk of tampon use, whether organic, unbleached, or otherwise, is toxic shock syndrome (TSS), more prevalent in women under the age of 25. A normally healthy bacteria found in warm, moist places of the body can sometimes produce toxins that lead to TSS. This disease has symptoms that are similar to a severe flu, and has been related to tampon absorbency.

Glossary

  • carbon sequestration: The process by which carbon is captured (in the form of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas) from the atmosphere and incorporated into soil, ocean, and plant matter.
  • dioxin: One of the most toxic known chemicals for which there is no safe exposure level for humans.
  • genetic engineering: The process of merging the genetic makeup of two organisms to create a desired byproduct (called a genetically modified organism) that could otherwise not be found in nature.

External links

Comments

01/18/2009
7:59pm
rosieo

A very informative article, but I would like to raise an issue on your suggestions on what to look out for when buying organic tampons and pads as this was quite misleading. USDA is short for the USA Dept. of Agriculture which oversees a National Organic Program (NOP) for the growing of crops in the USA. The USDA logo would only indicate that a product has used an organically GROWN crop. This seal applies only to raw material grown in the ground and does not have standards for the certification of the processing of those materials nor the manufacture for non food products. The international Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) applies to the growing of the crop to organic standards (Cotton, etc), the processing of the crop to organic standards and the manufacture of the finished product to organic standards. To be correct, the USDA seal can only be reliably used on foods and where it is used on non-foods, it can only relate to the raw crop grown in the ground (cotton, corn, rice, etc) and not its further processing or manufacture as tampons and pads are produced to textile (fibre) standards and not food standards.
The USDA seal is not exclusive, there are other seals available validated by other international Governments. There are many accredited organic certification bodies, working to GOTS which are also able to certify to NOP standards and it is the choice of the brand which certification company they wish to use. There are many accredited international organic certifiers that are certifying to GOTS such as The Soil Association, IMO, KRAV, and it is their label that will be found on certified organic feminine hygiene products together with the statement that the products are certified to the Global Organic Textile Standard GOTS. If this does not appear on the pack, then it is not fully certified organic.
The drawbacks you raised, regarding the environmental consequences associated with post-consumer waste generated by disposable pads and tampons, applying still to organic products - Natracare is the only certifed organic brand that is not only totally chlorine free, but also totally plastic free making natracare pads and tampons biodegradable and compostable. Companies that have been awarded an International EPD (Environmental Product Declaration), such as Natracare, are able to communicate the environmental performance of their products in an easy to understand and credible way. for more information go to www.environdec.com
Please note that not all feminine hygiene products claiming to be organic are the same. With regards to disposables, in addition to Natracare's fully certified organic cotton tampons, only Natracare's brand of pads and liners contain fully certified organic cotton.

01/19/2009
12:49pm
Mateo

rosieo, this is an incredibly valuable point. not all organics are equal! and the USDA label is not the #1 authority in non-food items. for people who wish to find truly organic products (beyond crop-based materials used for the product) they would need to look for organic certifications beyond USDA. same will go for cosmetics, personal care products, etc. thanks for sharing your knowledge on gy! any products that you think should be added to this list?

02/02/2009
3:51pm
rosieo

Hi Mateo,
I think you have covered most of the categories in your reply.
Rosio

01/24/2009
11:39am
justme

even better than buying organic disposables, buy cloth products (yes, you wash and resuse). There are tons of products to choose from and easy to find online or you can make your own if you can sew a little. Super eco friendly and healthly choice too.

05/04/2009
3:24pm
La_Cherrie

i think dis is pretty kool cuzu us ladies havae da periods and when were alwayz throwing away da pads its wasting paper so y not use organic 1's?

05/04/2009
3:27pm
bridget

omg la cherrie i cant believe u jus said dat so embarrising to girl society ....

05/04/2009
3:29pm
Da Chocolate Queen

I no right. Sorry I have been adding me some of that natural make-up. I love that stuff. I'm going to e mail it to myself and then imma buy it.

05/04/2009
3:30pm
Da Chocolate Queen

P.S. bridget i sooo agree wat u said about embarrasing girl society.

05/04/2009
3:32pm
La_Cherrie

wateva jus tellin da truth

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