How can I reuse or recycle (unused) sanitary towels & tampons?

We’ve had an email from Estelle, asking us if we could promote the mooncup: an environmentally friendly alternative to sanitary towels & tampons. She says: “I’ve had one for three years and am really pleased not to be dumping ‘feminine hygiene’ products into the environment. I’m also happy not to be spending money on them either.”

I’ve heard a lot about them from a number of different sources and the general consensus seems to be they’re fantastic once you get the hang of them.

Estelle’s email reminded me about the stash of towels & tampons I have in my bathroom cupboard. I stopped having periods about five years ago but used to buy-one-get-one-free quite a bit, so collected quite a stock before they became redundant. I thought about giving them away to friends but none of my friends have periods either for one reason or another (the most common reason being that they’re mostly male).

So what can be done with them? Does anyone know of any charities that collect them for redistribution in developing countries or the like? What about reuses – surely their liquid-absorbing qualities must be good for something around the home?

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31 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle (unused) sanitary towels & tampons?”


  1. kairon13 says:

    If there is a shelter for the homeless locally, they might be glad of them (and any surplus toiletries too).

  2. Delusion says:

    Firstly, the moon cup IS a great invention although, for anyone who a) doesnt want to use it or b) may need a pad on a heavier day, you can also buy Organic cotton sanitary produts such as – Naturacare (http://www.naturalcollection.co.uk/natural-products/Organic-Cotton-Sanitary-Towels-and-Pads.aspx) – these are cotton, no perfume, no plastics, no harmful chemicals!!!

    In certain situations these Naturacare ones can even be composted!

    As to the unused old nasty plastic ones – there are some charities who send them to Africa / Kosovo etc but trying to FIND details about these charities are proving difficult.

    Everything I have found states they want them then when you get to addresses / or “how to help” pages they just ask for monetary donations!

  3. KJ Scott says:

    That was my thought, also. Women’s shelters are always in need of these products, as are general “homeless shelters.”

  4. Karlie says:

    The ultra thin type have the super absorbant polymer crystals – so put them over the hole in teracota pots to keep the soil in and hold a little extra moisture for your plants.

    Also, the Keeper was out there before the moon cup and is a better alternative since it’s made of natural rubber and should you ever be done with it, it it biodegradable.

  5. Butterscotch & Roses says:

    pads could be used inside of diapers for extra absorbancy?

  6. Elouise says:

    I recall at school that if a girl found herself unprepared, we were told to go to the secretary’s office and ask for a sanitary pad. I’m sure that teenage girls are still caught off guard and still go to their favourite teacher or the office to ask for emergency supplies. Why not ask a teacher friend if you could donate the unused pads to them?

  7. Angharad says:

    Keep some for your first aid kit. They make excellent compresses and are particularly handy for larger cuts and abrasions.

  8. Stephanie says:

    Turkey centerpiece…made from tampons (I would use markers or a biodegradable paint rather than spray paint…

  9. anna says:

    You could make art of tampons
    http://www.tamponcrafts.com/gun.html
    Tampon gun is the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen that has anything to do with female products, but there are a lot of other ideas on tamponcrafts site. Christmas decoration would be another good idea…

  10. Kelsey says:

    My cat loves tampon “mice!” Just dispose of the applicator and throw it to kitty =D

  11. Renee says:

    They’re great to have in a first aid kit. Just think: they’re sterile, and absorb so much. Perfect for big gashes/cuts. I also used pads when I went hiking (with my old backpack) and the stuck them under the backpack straps that dug into my shoulders.

  12. Amber says:

    I’ve heard of women using them after childbirth to soothe soreness by putting a little water in them and then freezing it and sitting on it. It’s supposedly very soothing for tears and stitches.

  13. Kat says:

    Just like outgrown diapers, they are great for absorbing spills. Pads for small spills like a cup of water, diapers for massive spills (I once dropped a plastic gallon of water, and sucked it all up in 2 diapers in five minutes!) Not too sure what to do with the tampons.

  14. Alice says:

    Yep, Mooncups are brilliant! I’ve had one for about 6 months now, and although I was a bit sceptical at first, I love it now.

    If anyone has spare sanitary protection, PLEASE find out where your nearest Red Cross distribution point is. They give out food parcels to people who are destitute, and such people often also depend on them for toiletries. Very few people think of donating sanitary protection, but it is very much appreciated when donated.

  15. Pat says:

    Sanitary napkins have been used to bandages for horses (they have a tendency to cut their legs on fences, etc.) If you know someone with horses, you could ask them

  16. mormonsim says:

    this is no lie. a soldier in Iraq was saved buy a comrad that stuck a tampon in his gunshot wound. Guess that’s a good tip if you live in Iraq. LOL

  17. tony says:

    hi, if you still have your stash of sanitary pads ertc no longer needed then pls let me know as i work for a charity that helps ladies who are either victims of abuse or homeless and we could make sure they are given to peopl who really need them

  18. mangobaby says:

    U can use the tampons for nosebleeds although I hope you wouldn’t have that much blood coming out your nose.

  19. cfjoey says:

    Spray on your household cleaner of choice and wipe down kitchen surfaces.

  20. Faith says:

    When I was in the army, we used tampons for gunshot wounds. Also you could look at sending the extra pads or tampons to troops overseas because in some areas of Iraq and Afghanistan female hygiene items are hard to come by.

  21. Elouise says:

    May I suggest avoiding the whole discussion by using washable pads?

    I bought a few online. They have a plastic sheet inside, that stops leakage. I soak them in cold water for a couple of hours, then throw them in the normal wash with clothes. If you choose darker fabrics, there is less of an issue with staining. They have all different thicknesses, absorbencies, etc.

    You can buy them all over online now:

    Look at lunapads.com

    and

    http://www.etsy.com/shop/VulvaLoveLovely (in the US, but ships internationally).

    These are better for your body. The commercial pads are bleached and contain nasty chemicals (think Toxic Shock Syndrome).

  22. anna says:

    One more idea of stuff seen in teh internet: tampon chandelier
    http://www.neatorama.com/2010/03/12/chandelier-made-out-of-tampons/

  23. claire Browne says:

    Contact your nearest veterinary hospital..I work for one and we always use maxi pads for extra cushioning and absorption inside belly wraps etc since they have that adhesive. We also use them as “makeshift” diapers for pets that are in heat or have urinary issues. Also, tampons work well for nosebleeds.

  24. I am wondering if anyone knows of a charity who I can approach to supply sanitary items to orphhaned older girls in Sierra Leone.
    I currently volunteer for a number of orphanges in Sierra Leone and as our children are getting older, we are needing to supply the girls with sanitary items that are a huge cost for a volunteer based organisation that recieves no government support and occassionally receives grants. Any suggestions would be appreciated.



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