By the time your last maxi pad degrades in a landfill, 31 generations of your descendants will have lived and died. Your children’s children’s children, and their children’s children’s children, will all be dead. Your used pad, however, will remain.
Traditional pads are made with mostly synthetic materials — in some cases, up to 90 percent of a pad is made from unrecyclable plastics, which can take anywhere from 500-800 years to degrade. When you combine that with the fact the average woman will use 11,000 menstrual care products in her lifetime, well, that’s a whole lot of bloody trash.
That’s why Public Goods, a direct-to-consumer subscription service that offers household items ranging from dry foods, supplements, and all-natural cleansers, launched the world’s first 100 percent biodegradable pad. Everything, including the packaging, was designed to degrade within approximately 180 days. Made from bamboo pulp — a highly sustainable resource that grows quickly and requires little water and zero fertilizer to produce — Public Goods’ pads are hypoallergenic, antimicrobial, and 15 percent more absorbent than cotton, and contain no petrochemicals, BPAs, pesticides, perfumes, latex, or elemental chlorine.
Public Goods’ Menstrual Care line includes regular, super, and overnight pads, as well as pantyliners. Additionally, the line includes tampons made with 100 percent organic cotton that are also totally biodegradable, though the version with the applicator is not.
For Public Good’s CEO and Founder Morgan Hirsh, moving into the sustainable menstrual care space was a logical next step — not just because it falls in line with the brand’s commitment to providing sustainable, organic products at competitive prices (the regular pads are three dollars per pack with a Public Good membership, which is comparable to Playtex’s 36-pack of thin pads for $13) but also because larger, more mainstream brands aren’t doing it.
“Large brands have strong motivation to stick to the status quo because they already have millions of customers,” Hirsh tells InStyle. “The last thing they want to do is ask their existing customers to change anything, even if the product is better or more ethical, and even if they have the resources to make these changes. This is why innovation often happens from outside the industry. We're so glad to see a global conversation emerging around menstruation and we want to play our part to provide better period-proud, sustainable care.”
The biodegradable Menstrual Care line took more than a year to develop, during which time Public Goods took care to develop a product that was completely antimicrobial and moisture wicking, looking at sustainability and utility at every step of the way. In other words, even without the synthetic fragrances sometimes found in a menstrual pad, odor is not a concern. As far as disposal, you can compost the pads, or throw them out with your regular trash. Biodegradable garbage bags (also available at Public Goods) are supposed to shorten this breakdown time, too.
“With this launch, we’re truly aiming to ignite conversation and discourse surrounding widespread sustainable product development and other related areas, such as waste disposal, hopefully paving the path for further innovation and progress industry-wide,” Hirsh says.
“We know environmental issues are complex, and that there are many factors to consider in resolving them,” he adds. “There are inevitable pitfalls in addressing large and multi-faceted problems but we didn't want that to deter us from taking action.”
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