According to Grist:
The good thing about tampons though--well, at least for the companies that make them--is that they're disposable. You have to buy them again and again, and the company gets to profit from your purchase--again and again.
Indeed, according to Susan Strasser's Waste and Want, sanitary pads were first invented as a way to make use of leftover "cellu-cotton," a highly absorbent invention stockpiled for use in bandages during World War I. Geez, I guess that's one way to get rid of your war surplus!
The good news, at least according to female readers of this blog, is that there are great reusable alternatives. They're cheaper in the long run, safer and way better for the environment. As Emily from Food Origins once commented on this blog: