An exploration of the environmental impact of single-use menstrual management products


  • Jessica Rogers


Menstrual hygiene, menstrual disposal, sanitary waste management, environmental impacts, menstrual sustainability, societal views on menstruation, history of menstruation, menstrual management, feminine hygiene


Innovative options for menstrual management have the potential to greatly reduce solid waste and aid in a healthier and cleaner environment. As a significantly used group of products, menstrual management products make up a mass amount of waste produced. However, there are a variety of management options that have the potential to reduce waste impacts if they replace conventional methods. Religion and cultural beliefs have an impact on how people perceive menstruation and restrict menstruators. Stigmas around menstruation in society that were formed as long ago as 77AD present menstruation negatively using verbs such as dirty, unclean, and shameful. Inadequate education and taboos around menstruation have enabled menstrual silence. Single-use menstrual management products such as disposable sanitary pads and tampons are the most impactful on the environment. Sanitary pads were the most impactful product, with the damage to the environment taking place from the first step of production to the end of life. The bleaching process that occurs to make the absorbency layer appear white, releases toxins such as carcinogens into the environment. The environment is then further at risk from physical pollution if single-use sanitary pads are placed into landfill or carcinogens being released while products are thermally treated.