As if stomach cramps and mood swings weren’t enough to deal with, our period also poses an environmental dilemma. In the UK, the average menstruating person gets through 11,000 disposable period products during their reproductive lifetime, and the time it takes for a tampon or pad to degrade in a landfill is centuries longer than the lifespan of the person who used it. Even organic pads take 100 years to decompose.
Thankfully, from menstrual cups to period pants, sustainable menstrual products are on the rise, but making the change can be overwhelming if you’ve been using sanitary towels or tampons since you started your period. Now, there’s an alternative that might not feel quite so daunting: Planera’s flushable period pad. A world first, the pad was designed to combat the shocking fact that despite 0% of period care products being flushable, 30% are flushed away.
Created by doctor Olivia Ahh and engineer Aaron Koshy, Planera’s pads are made from plant fibres, tree sap and a water-dispersible, biodegradable polymer. Once flushed, the pads break down into small plant fibres that are processed into clean water, energy and fertiliser, and will degrade before your next period starts. “Our waste should not outlive us. A pad that is used for 8 hours should never remain for 500 years,” says Aaron. “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.”
If you’re worried about Planera’s ability to handle a heavy flow, rest assured that the pad has been put through its paces, tested in a lab for 24 hours with 8ml of actual blood (rather than the ridiculous blue water we’re used to seeing in period product ads). For context, the average five day period produces around 20-35ml of blood, so Planera categorises their pads as perfect for a medium to heavy flow. It’s only when submerged in litres of water – i.e. a toilet bowl – that the pad will begin to break down, so you don’t need to worry about absorbency issues.
The next batch of Planera pads are currently in production, but you can sign up to the waiting list here.