Whatever, I'll just flush or bury everything...
Don’t do it! I get that flushing may feel kinda satisfying in an “out of sight, out of mind” sort of way. But, c’mon, how many times have you seen a sign saying “Please Do Not Flush Feminine Products” (or something along those lines) in a public/ commercial restroom? Some of those signs are downright passive-aggressive, but they are there for a reason.
First of all, the darn thing might not flush in the first place, which can lead to immediate disaster, as Kate found out the hard way. If it does flush, the effects only get worse, even if you can’t see them. We highly recommend this Jezebel article for a detailed explanation. But the short version is that tampons and pads DO NOT BREAK DOWN like toilet paper, plain and simple (check it). They’ll likely get stuck in a pipe somewhere, causing an unpleasant backup and costly plumbing repair.
Even if the pad/tampon does get through to the waste treatment plant, it will require nasty chemicals or time-consuming physical processes to break it down (which is where all the port-o-potty contents eventually go, so don’t toss the tampon/pad in there, either). And then, finally, it’ll go to a landfill, with millions of other pounds of used feminine products that won’t break down for a LONG time.
Which brings us to the reason why, if you’re playing the outdoor version of this game (isn’t it FUN?!), you shouldn’t bury your used menstrual product. About a third of the women we surveyed earlier this year said they have done this--maybe you have, too--and it’s OK, we get it. Burying feels like it should be NBD...I mean, tampons and pads seem like they’re mostly cotton, and that’s natural, right?
Unfortunately, no. Those things are designed not to break down while you’re using them (thank goodness), and putting them underground won’t change that. Plus, period products have other things in them, like plastics and bleach (for that nice, clean, white color). A tampon will take at least 6 months to biodegrade, and a pad can take centuries (so like, never), especially in that nice, low-oxygen hole you dug for it, and ‘specially especially if you’re trekking anywhere that doesn’t get a lot of rain. Plus, unless that hole is really deep (who has time for that?) chances are your product will “resurface” (it’s baaaaaaack), which is not good for critters and not pleasant for humans.
Long story short, there are a lot of reasons, from environmentalism to plain ol’ common courtesy, that you should not bury anything while you’re outdoors and Leave No Trace.
In short: no flushing, no burying, and, to be thorough, no burning.
So what the heck do you do?