Okay, ladies, let's talk about feminine hygiene, namely the environmental impact of chucking hundreds of applicators, pads, and packaging every year. Deal, schmeal? Multiply that number by, say, all the ovulating women in America, and you get an annual production of 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons used once and then cast off into our already overtaxed landfills each year, according to the National Women's Health Network.
That's not even the worst of it: According to the Village Voice, in 1992, a Congressional subcommittee dug up an exchange of memos in which U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) scientists reported their discovery of trace levels of dioxins-carcinogenic compounds that are produced through the chlorine bleaching of wood pulp, as well as the manufacture of rayon. Rayon is generally used in tampons and wood pulp in pads for absorbency. Then there's Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). More than 50 women died and over a thousand suffered in the 1970s and 1980s after an outbreak of TSS caused by synthetic fibers-including viscous rayon, which is still being used today-that amplified the toxins of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. But while the lowest risk for TSS would be had by using 100 percent cotton, most of the cotton crop in the United States is drenched in pesticides, not to mention genetically engineered, which the London-based Institute for Science in Society warns could give rise to antibiotic-resistant bacteria. So what's a girl to do? Here are some options we've rustled up.