4 ways to have a more eco-friendly period
Happy International Women’s Day! We thought what better time than now to talk all things plastic-free periods?
From menstrual cups to cloth pads, period underwear and even period sponges, in today’s world, we’re very lucky to be surrounded by eco period products. These options are better for our bodies and significantly reduce the amount of disposables pads and tampons we send to landfill each year.
First, let’s start with some facts. One menstruating person will use over 10,000 disposable period products in their lifetime. That really adds up, especially when you consider that there are millions of menstruating people on Earth at any given time! And sadly, the majority are using disposable pads backed with plastic, or tampons that are wrapped in plastic or come with plastic applicators. While we’re certainly privileged to have access to clean, disposable period products like pads and tampons, most of these products will take over 500 years to break down in landfill. It’s a big part of our world’s waste problem, but the good news is that there are plenty of more sustainable options available.
Reusable options for a more sustainable period
1. Menstrual Cups
These little silicone cups would have to be our favourite zero-waste period product, and for good reason. One cup can be sanitised and reused again and again for many years (some manufacturers like Lunette claim up to 10 years!), can be worn for 8 hours and can hold more fluid than two super tampons. They’re compact, easy to clean and easy to use once you’ve conquered the initial learning curve.
A menstrual cup is folded and inserted into the body just like a tampon, where it pops open, creates a seal and collects your flow. You then empty the cup every 8 hours or so, wash and reinsert. Then at the end of your cycle, you sterilise your cup in boiling water and store it away until your next period.
When inserted correctly they don’t leak and can be worn during exercise and while swimming. As menstrual cups are made from materials like medical-grade silicone or TPE, they are free from harmful chemicals that can irritate our most delicate area. While a menstrual cup may have a higher initial cost than disposable pads and tampons (in Australia, a quality menstrual cup will usually cost around $40 to $50) the long-term cost saving is well worth the investment. The average Aussie who gets periods will spend around $4000 on disposable period products in their lifetime!
2. Cloth Pads and Pantyliners
Made from layers of absorbent cotton and waterproof fabric, cloth pads are a brilliant reusable alternative to disposables. Instead of using an adhesive backing, cloth pads have wings with press studs that wrap around your underwear to hold them in place. They’re great for periods, light urinary incontinence or reusable pantyliners are great for daily freshness or discharge. After using a reusable pad, rinse it well with cold water and then you can machine or hand wash with a mild detergent. With proper care, cloth pads can be washed and reused for many years - saving waste, and saving you money.
For those who love a pop of colour, we recommend Hannahpad cloth pads which are made with organic cotton and come with fun patterns to brighten up your cycle! And if you're more of a minimalist or like to support Aussie brands, JuJu cloth pads have a simple white backing and are available in pure or organic cotton.
3. Period Sea Sponges
Although a less common choice, period sea sponges are another alternative to disposable tampons. IntimateCare Menstrual Sea Sponges are sustainably harvested, free from harmful chemicals and available in bleached or unbleached varieties. A sea sponge is moistened and inserted similar to a tampon, where it absorbs your period flow. They’re then removed, cleaned and can be reused for 3-6 months with proper care.
4. Period Underwear
Period underwear is taking the world by storm at the moment, and we love it! It looks just like regular underwear (for all those times when you’d rather not give away that you’re on your period or don't want to fuss with pads) but with extra layers of absorbent fabric and a leak-proof layer sewn into the crotch area. You can wash and reuse them just like you would regular undies.
They’re great to wear on their own or as a backup with a menstrual cup to protect from leaks if you have a heavy flow. And if you need leak protection without absorbency, these simple leak-proof undies have got you covered. Period underwear is also a super comfortable option for tweens who have just started their period - what better way to introduce the next generation to more eco-friendly options!
Have you made the switch to reusable period products yet? Whether you like to wear internal products like menstrual cups or sponges, or stick with pads or underwear, there are plenty of options available these days to suit your lifestyle! And if reusables aren’t an option for you, organic and biodegradable disposables like these are the next best choice for the environment.