Life

What are Period Care Products Made Of?

What you need to know about some concerning ingredients

Because Health: Although being on your period can be a pain (sometimes literally- thanks cramps...), we know period products have got us covered. Even during tricky situations like swimming, athletics, or even wearing white pants, period products like pads, tampons, and menstrual cups are there for us. While they can be a life saver during our period, there's still so much we don't know about the ingredients that are used in these products, or how these exposures might impact our health. There's way too much mystery surrounding a product that we use daily, for hours at a time, that come into contact with some of the most absorbent and sensitive parts of the body, which is why Women's Voices for the Earth (WVE) decided to look at this topic further. Keep reading to hear from WVE about what's in period care products, what regulations are needed, and some safer options that are available now.

What's In Period Care Products?

Most pads and tampons are much more than a simple piece of cotton. Generally, products are made to be super absorbant, comfortable, easy to use, and can have other properties like "odor-absorbing" or some products even provide a scent.

Yet there is still so much we don't know about the ingredients that are used in these products, or how these exposures might impact our health. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers menstrual products "medical devices" so manufacturers of these products are not required to disclose their ingredients.

Independent, testing from various organizations, media sources and governing bodies from around the world has found numerous chemicals of concern in these products, particularly in chemical additives such as fragrances, lubricants, lotions, odor-absorbing compounds and even antibacterial compounds that are often added to menstrual products by manufacturers. Chemicals linked to allergies, irritation, cancer, endocrine disruption and birth defects have all been found hiding in period care products. In fact, as recently as 2020, phthalates (chemicals widely flagged as harmful) were found in every single sample (of the total 43 pads, panty liners and tampons tested) that were tested!

Once you realize how many questionable chemicals are in so many period products, It's not surprising to learn that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has received hundreds of adverse health reports regarding tampons and pads. They describe genital irritation, rashes, chemical burns, allergic reactions (including anaphylactic shock), toxic shock syndrome and other symptoms as a result of exposure to a menstrual pad, pantyliner or tampon.

What Are the Health Impacts of Chemicals in Period Care Products

These reports and tests have raised important questions about the potential health impacts of these exposures. While a few studies have attempted to assess and measure potential risks of these products, all have indicated that there is more work to be done to better understand the impacts these products may have. What's more, the route of exposure to chemicals from menstrual products is both unique and poorly understood. Chemicals absorbed through the vagina are easily and effectively distributed throughout the body, without being metabolized. In order to better understand the health impacts of chemical exposures from menstrual products — at the very least — we need to know what is in them.

People deserve to know what's in the products they are using! This information is vital to make informed decisions about our health, and what we're putting on and in our bodies. We have come to expect disclosure of ingredients in foods and cosmetics because of the direct interaction of these products with our bodies. We should expect no less from menstrual products.

New Regulations for Menstrual Care

Because of public demand, many companies that make period products have started voluntarily disclosing some ingredients. In addition, many new companies have built ingredient disclosure into their policies and practices, understanding the importance of transparency and safety. However, voluntary disclosure remains problematic as it is inconsistent, is not universal, and these products are not always available or accessible to everyone.

New Right to Know Regulations

Important changes toward transparency are already in the works! In 2019, New York became the first state in the nation to require manufacturers of period care products to disclose ingredients. This new law will go into effect October 2021 require any menstrual products sold in the state to contain a "plain and conspicuous" list of all ingredients, in order of predominance. This must be printed on, or affixed to, the package. There's no doubt that this will have national impact, as it will open up new information about these products than ever before.

On the federal level, Congresswoman Grace Meng, is reintroducing her bill, the Menstrual Products Right to Know Act, which will require disclosure of ingredients in menstrual products, including tampons, pads, menstrual cups and period underwear — providing vital ingredient information for people across the nation.

Safer Period Products Available Right Now

Even though there's a lot of work to be done related to the chemicals found in period products, we're already starting to see positive changes. An increasing amount of non-toxic options available for period products and ways to report negative health impacts means individuals can immediately take to protect their health.

- Choose unscented products where available, especially in tampons and pads.

- Choose chlorine-free bleach or unbleached tampons and pads.

- Organic products are also a good option as they are typically free (or nearly free) of fragrances and pesticides, and often have fewer additives, dyes or bleaches.

- If you are having allergic symptoms, switch brands, and then tell the company why you did by calling the 800 number on the label.

- Report any symptoms possibly resulting from these products to the FDA by calling 1-800-332-1088 or filling out a consumer report form.

- Look for period underwear that is made out of 100% cotton and doesn't use silver

- To learn more about these issues visit womensvoices.org

Roundups

Non-Toxic Bathroom Cleaners

products you can buy to make your bathroom squeaky clean without dangerous fumes

Nobody likes doing it, but it's got to be done! Cleaning the bathroom doesn't have to be gross or involve lots of chemicals with dangerous fumes that leave your eyes teary and your head hurting. You can use an all purpose cleaner on most surfaces in the bathroom, but sometimes you need a little extra oomph to get rid of hard water stains and mold or mildew. Every now and then we also find ourselves needing to clear the drains too! We checked out all the lists and figured out which bathroom cleaning products are the safest and effective.

In addition to these products, we also love using a simple non-toxic all purpose cleaner and have lots of DIY cleaner recipes for getting your bathroom squeaky clean.

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Healthy eating should be about more than just healthy ingredients! While there are many different specific diets, most definitions of healthy eating involve choosing fresh, nutrient-dense whole foods that provide maximal nutritional benefits. Refined grains, sugar, vegetable oils, and other unhealthy ingredients are left off the plate. But if healthy ingredients become contaminated with harmful chemicals, are they really healthy? It is time for healthy eating to incorporate more than just ingredients. Healthy eating should also include how the food is packaged and what materials the food comes into contact with while it is being processed, cooked, and stored.
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Roundups

The Best Non-Toxic Dish Soaps

Healthy, safe, and effective grease-cutting dish soap power

Updated for 2021!

Get your dishes clean without worrying about the chemicals in your dish soap. We rounded up the top 6 dish soaps without toxic chemicals or preservatives that are well-reviewed and easily available. You're welcome! We've had some questions about whether parents need a separate soap specifically for bottles and dishes. With these 6 picks, you can be rest assured that they will work well on your dinner plates but are also safe enough for baby bottles and toddler dishes. Also, for all the dishes you choose not to hand wash, take a peek at our dishwasher detergent roundup.

a) Attitude Dishwashing Liquid

b) Aunt Fannie's Microcosmic Probiotic Power Dish Soap

c) Better Life Dish Soap

d) ECOS Dishmate Dish Liquid

e) Common Good dish soap

f) Cleancult liquid dish soap

g) Trader Joe's Dish Soap Lavender Tea Tree


We rely on EWG's consumer databases, the Think Dirty App, and GoodGuide in addition to consumer reviews and widespread availability of products to generate these recommendations. Learn more on our methodology page.

*Because Health is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program so that when you click through our Amazon links, a percentage of the proceeds from your purchases will go to Because Health. We encourage you to shop locally, but if you do buy online buying through our links will help us continue the critical environmental health education work we do. Our participation does not influence our product recommendations. To read more about how we recommend products, go to our methodology page.

Roundups

Eco-Friendly and Reusable Gift Wrapping Ideas

Spread holiday cheer without creating waste!

Since this is a safe space we can admit that one of the best parts about the holidays is the presents, right? But the amount of wrapping paper we go through every year is just insane... and most of it isn't even recyclable! Unless "recyclable" is specifically mentioned on the label, you'll have to throw used wrapping paper into the trash. And sometimes, we could do without that mountain of used wrapping paper after presents have been opened, even if it is the recyclable kind.
That's why we wanted to find the best wrapping options that could actually be recycled or reused year to year! Check out these great alternatives to tranditonal wrapping paper!


a) 2 Pieces Christmas Canvas Tote Bags Buffalo Plaid Check Shopping Bags

b) joywrap

c) Hallmark Recyclable Kraft Wrapping Paper

d) Eco-Friendly Reversible Wrapping Paper

e) Hallmark Reusable Fabric Gift Wrap

f) Hallmark Black and Red Drawstring Gift Bag Set


g) Furoshiki Reusable Gift Wrapping Cloth


h) Organic Cotton Reusable Gift Wrap (Set of 3)

i) Brown Kraft Paper Jumbo Roll

Looking for non-toxic, sustainable, and fun gifts for your home chef? We created a gift guide this year for those people on your list who love cooking and hosting. Whether it's elaborate dinner parties or weeknight meals, these gifts are sure to bring some joys in the new year. We looked for gifts that avoided waste (like a stovetop popcorn maker), or that avoided harmful chemicals (like a cast iron skillet), or that could bring a little fun into the kitchen (like these fabulous cloth napkins).

This year, we have highlighted many products by many Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) owned/founded brands. Buying from these brands is a great way to support economic opportunities in BIPOC communities and celebrates diversity in the sustainability space. Additionally, since climate change is an urgent issue with so many health impacts, we are also highlighting brands that are Climate Neutral certified. That means that the brand has committed to measure, offset, and reduce the carbon they emit. We believe that consumers and companies must work together to embrace and make true commitments to diversity and sustainability. Look no further for the ultimate gift guide!

$: Under $50

Handheld milk frother

This stainless steel milk frother is the perfect way to warm up your milk (or milk alternative) without having to sacrifice counter space! Whether you're drinking coffee or matcha, this it the perfect tool to take things up a notch.

Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes (BIPOC brand)

Want to eat less meat, but don't know how to make vegetable dishes stand out? Step up your cooking game with delicious recipes from this unique cookbook from Bryant Terry. Bryant is renowned for his activism and efforts to create a healthy, equitable, and sustainable food system, so this cookbook is right up our alley.

Mother Grains: Recipes for the Grain Revolution (BIPOC brand)

Looking to up your whole grain intake? Expand your baking skills with Mother Grains: Recipes for the Grain Revolution. You'll be amazed how a simple cookie can change texture and flavor based on the flours you use. Learn about the world of ancient grains like buckwheat, sorghum, rye, barley, and heirloom wheat and bake some delicious treats.

GreenLife Bakeware Healthy Ceramic Nonstick, Muffin Pan

This ceramic baking pan by GreenLife is non-stick without harmful chemicals and comes in a bunch of cute colors. Weekend muffins are calling you!

Great Northern Popcorn Original Stainless Steel Stove Top Popcorn Popper

Microwave popcorn is expensive and the bags are coated in Teflon like chemicals, but it's so convenient. Enter this amazing popcorn maker. You'll never look at microwaved popcorn the same way after you use this Great Northern stovetop popcorn popper! It's stainless steel body perfectly cooks kernels to tasty perfection.

Heath Ceramics large coffee mug

Elevate your morning coffee with this beautifully crafted mug from Heath Ceramics. It comes in many lead-free glazes and is as sturdy as it is beautiful.

$ $: Between $50-100

Hamilton Beach Belgian Waffle Maker

Sunday brunch just got so much better with this waffle maker by Hamilton Beach. Most waffle makers use a Teflon-like coating in their waffle makers, but this waffle maker uses a ceramic non-stick. It's really easy to use and the ceramic grids pop out for easy cleaning.

Diaspora Co. Single-Origin Spices (BIPOC brand)

Spices can make or break a dish, which is why we love upgrading our spice drawer with this set of single origin spices from Diaspora. We love that they pay a living wage to partner farmers and their partner model allows them to provide quality control that results in fresher, more delicious spices. That also means that they can also better control potential contamination and test for lead contamination. They are also working on organic certification for their partner farms.

Emile Henry Deep Food Storage Bowl

Who says food storage has to be boring? Beauty meets function with this deep food storage bowl by Emile Henry. The cork top serves as a fruit bowl, while the lower level with vents and darkness acts as a mini pantry to store root vegetables and onions.

Siafu Home Congolese Napkins

The scalloped edge and fun pattern of these napkins make them a great hostess gift! These are screen printed by hand in Kenya and are a great way to add some color to your table.

$ $ $: Over $100

Graf Lantz Felt Placemats

These sturdy place mats will protect your table from the messiest of eaters! The merino wool material is naturally water and odor resistant, and also offers amazing thermal protection.

Olivewood Serving Board

These hand-carved cheese boards are made from a single piece of olivewood, which means no glues or adhesives are added to the wood. They are the perfect backdrop to your next charcuterie board.

East Fork Serving Bowl (Climate Neutral certified)

This handmade pottery serving bowl from East Fork is perfect for all your serving need- whether it's for movie night popcorn or a salad at a dinner party for 10!

Brightland Olive Oil Duo (BIPOC brand)

There's a reason you've seen Brightland all over social, it's high quality olive oil and beautiful bottle make it a star! The Duo set is the perfect way to try two of their most popular flavors! The olives come from a family-run California farm that does not use pesticides and is committed to organic practices.

Le Creuset Cast Iron Skillet

Le Creuset is known for it's quality and beautiful color choices and this enameled cast iron skillet is no exception! This pan will last you a lifetime and is naturally non-stick enough for scrambles and fried eggs. No Teflon chemicals needed.

Fellow coffee Pour Over Coffee and Electric Kettle

This Fellow electric kettle and pour over set are perfect companions for your coffee! These products don't contain any plastic and will make you feel like a certified barista.

Life

Artificial or Real Christmas Tree? What's better for you and the environment.

What toxic chemicals are in artificial Christmas trees and tips for how to stay safe

Artificial Christmas trees are becoming increasingly popular for families. They're seen as being convenient since they don't shed needles and can be reused year after year. Some even come with lights already on them! But is the convenience of artificial Christmas trees worth it? We break down the science and the pros and cons of artificial Christmas trees and farm grown real Christmas trees to help you have a healthy and sustainable Christmas!

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Life

Buying holiday decorations? Here's what you should know

Don't let these chemicals ruin your holiday cheer

You may need to be careful rockin' around the Christmas tree this year! Why you ask? Well, there might be some unexpected chemicals in that holly jolly decoration above your head. Holiday decorations can bring great cheer, but sometimes they can contain an unwanted surprise. Some decorations may be made with toxic chemicals - keep a look out for the ones below!
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