It’s estimated that the average American woman uses between 11,000 and 17,000 tampons throughout the course of her lifetime and spends upwards of $100 per year on tampons alone.

All those tampons, wrappers, and applicators stack up to 250-300 pounds of landfill waste in a lifetime, and can take centuries to degrade, especially if they are wrapped in plastic packaging. While feminine care is big business, the industry has a long way to go in terms of providing transparency to its customers. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates tampons and sanitary pads as medical devices, a classification that recommends manufacturers provide general information about the composition of their products, but does not require manufacturers to include a full listing of ingredients on their labels. Even the fragrances added to some of these products are considered cosmetic and do not require disclosure.

Most tampons are made using a blend of cotton and rayon. When looking at these materials, it’s important to note that over 90% of conventional cotton is genetically engineered, and that cotton is one of the highest-risk crops for pesticide usage.

In 2014, conventional cotton ranked third for pesticide usage on U.S. crops and fourth for fertilizer usage. Of the herbicides used on conventional cotton, two forms of glyphosate were the most widely applied.

Rayon, a manufactured fiber made primarily of wood pulp, is usually bleached with hydrogen peroxide or chlorine dioxide and has been linked to toxic dioxin. Additionally, viscose rayon may leave some of its highly absorbent fibers inside the vagina even after it is removed.

At Good Earth, we aim to empower you to make the best decision for your body. We carry a variety of tampons and menstrual pads made with organic cotton from Natracare and Seventh Generation. For those seeking a greener option, we also carry washable organic cotton pads from Party in My Pants and reusable menstrual cups from Lunette. Using a greener option just a few days of your cycle may be the way to move towards change and find a new routine.