As our awareness of plastic pollution increases, many people are attempting to lead a far more eco-friendly lifestyle. But in the environment of a music festival, where one-use items (from cheap tents that fall apart after a single weekend to the baby wipes we need to keep clean in the absence of clean showers) are commonplace, behaving in an environmentally responsible fashion can be a real challenge. It’s understandable why even the greenest music lovers might be tempted to choose convenience over being eco-friendly.
The good news is that being on your period during a music festival doesn’t have to be uncomfortable or cause harm to the environment if you’re prepared. The number of options available to menstruating women has expanded significantly over the last few years, and can help to make the festival experience, even during your period, the memorable experience you wanted (in the right way!)
The incorrect disposal of one-use sanitary products is becoming a frequently-discussed environmental issue, and it’s easy to see why. The waste from disposable tampons, pads and panty liners amounts to approximately 100 billion pieces every single year, and a shocking amount of this is finding its way into our environment.
Preventing this kind of environmental burden is easily done when tampons and other sanitary products are disposed of correctly in sanitary bins. This may be simple enough at your local pub or public toilet, but many music festivals are still overlooking the needs of the thousands of women that visit them every year. In these situations, reusable menstrual products can act as an alternative solution in an environment where adequate disposal facilities are not provided.
It is easy to be put off by the concept of using a reusable menstrual product during an event such as a festival. Many women feel discouraged to use them in the privacy of their own home, let alone somewhere isolated and dirty. The main questions that often are asked in regards to reusables are queries surrounding things like potential leakage, how hygienic the product is, how often it needs to be changed and how they even work to begin with.
Comfort is key
While you may not want to switch to reusable pads in your day-to-day life, the good news is that they are a safe and comfortable alternative during a festival weekend.
Although getting used to the idea of handling reusable menstrual products can seem daunting, many women have said that a reusable pad is far more comfortable than its disposable alternative. Because they are made from cloth and contain no plastic, they are more breathable and cause less irritation – perfect for festivals, which are usually held during the warmer months.
“Disposing” a reusable product
The burning question, however, is what to do with a cloth pad at a festival when it needs changing? Every year the festival season seems to produce horror stories of panicked girls stuffing their disposable tampon applicators down a portable toilet, which is unpleasant for both the girls, other festival-goers, and the environment.
When you use a cloth pad, you can place it inside a zip-locked bag or a specially purchased waterproof pouch, which will prevent it leaking or causing damage before you return home to wash it. Cloth pads can be washed even if they have dried blood on them, and once the pad is washed, by hand or in a washing machine, it is perfectly clean to use again.
Caught empty handed
Understandably, planning for a period doesn’t always work out, and sometimes bad luck can get in the way of a good time. When caught with an unexpected period at a music festival, disposable pads and tampons will sometimes be the only option available.
One of the dangers, however, of using disposable tampons specifically at a festival is the risk of not changing it frequently enough. When fun is being had and alcohol is involved, it is possible to forget to regularly change your tampon or even fall asleep after a night of drinking and forget to remove it all together.
There are dangers associated with leaving a tampon in for too long – whether it is disposable or reusable. Even if tampons are your product of choice during your period, it may be advisable to switch to pads during a festival to avoid the increased risk of infection.
In this situation, correctly disposing of used pads and tampons is vital. After all, no one wants to be responsible for a local dog walker digging up something a festival goer had ‘secretly’ buried in the ground the night before. All products should either be disposed of correctly on site (if possible) or stored in a waterproof pouch until a sanitary waste bin can be found.
Anything for a shower
There are few feelings worse than not having access to a shower during a period. However, as many festival goers know, showers are, more often than not, a luxury. It is still important, despite the inconvenience, to try and maintain good personal hygiene to avoid the risk of bacteria build-up and simply to ensure the most comfortable and fun-filled weekend possible.
The holy grail for most festival goers are, of course, are wet wipes. However wet wipes, just like tampons, are equally making news with their lack of sustainability and the harm they are causing the environment. The environmental impact of disposing wet wipes is so great that it’s led to a government plan to ban the product completely in the next 25 years.
Luckily for all of us that still rely on wet wipes, there are eco-friendly alternatives available that contain natural ingredients such as bamboo. This makes them ‘flushable’ or compostable after you’re done freshening up, so disposing of them in at a festival is far easier and far less harmful to the environment.
Some girls are also taking advantage of a clever festival ‘hack’ by buying a fold up wash bowl and a camping kettle. Not only is this more eco-friendly than using wet wipes, but it can give girls the opportunity to wash in the privacy of their own tents, away from a cramped portal toilet and a long line of impatient music fans.
For many festival goers, the best chance of finding a sink to wash in will be in a portable toilet. Although these are not always the most pleasant places to find yourself in, they are understandably a key part of the festival experience. For those visiting a smaller festival, where leaving the venue is a viable option, taking advantage of local businesses and churches can be an alternative for those who do not feel comfortable using a portable toilet for changing menstrual products.
Taking care of yourself
Knowing that you’re likely to have your period at a music festival can be stressful, especially if it’s the first time it’s happened. Many girls will want to focus on finding a way to feel comfortable and clean, rather than thinking about where their sanitary products might end up should they not dispose of them correctly.
However, on top of wearing comfy clothes and stocking up on junk food, planning ahead and considering the environmental impact of your choices during your period could significantly ease any discomfort, while also protecting the countryside festivals are often held in. And who knows, if the festival weekend doesn’t tire you out adequately, perhaps you’ll be able to sleep sounder knowing that you haven’t left any buried surprises for the festival staff to clean up in the morning.
This post was written by Jo Greene of VR Sani-Co. An established family business that has been providing washroom services for over 20 years.