Sustainable Period Products to Reduce Waste

The menstrual cycle: a draining experience for a woman’s body, as well as the environment. 

On average, a woman creates over 300 pounds of waste from period products in her lifetime. Pads and tampons come in mounds of plastic packaging to protect them, which causes harm to our planet. Switching to more sustainable ways of period management doesn’t have to be a complicated or expensive process. 

There are so many ways to have a more environmentally conscious period. Check out my 5 star recommendations below.

Reusable pads

Reusable cloth pads work the same as regular single-use disposable pads. 

Rather than using a sticker to secure the pad to your underwear, reusable pads use buttons or clasps. This idea is not a new phenomenon. Before the creation of disposable period products in the early 1900s, cloth pads were the norm of period care. 

As more women began to work outside the household, the demand for disposable pads and tampons increased. However, as society became more environmentally friendly, the resurgence of reusable pads followed. 

Credit: Pixie Pad

Reusable pads come in different sizes just as regular pads do, including overnight pads and pantiliners. Reusable pads are one of the easiest ways to switch to sustainable period care as they follow the same rules as their disposable counterpart. 

To follow proper hygiene, users should make sure to wear the right absorbency style for their flow and change pads regularly. Rather than disposing of the pads, one machine wash in hot water returns them back to new so they are ready to use again. 

Pixie Pads sells packs of reusable pads for $35 and a carrying case to store them in between uses. This low cost investment not only helps to save the environment but your wallet too. 

Period underwear

Period underwear provides a discreet and low-waste way to manage periods.

It looks and feels just like regular underwear but has the absorption technology to hold periods. Styles of underwear work much like pads and tampons — you pick the style based on your flow.

Some pairs are thinner for low-flow days, while others can provide the protection of up to five tampons. Period underwear is easily washed and maintained for over two years of use. Brands like Thinx also create leggings and shorts with the same technology to keep you comfortable and protected.

Credit: Knix

Because period underwear is so easy to wash, this is a clean and hygienic alternative to disposable pads and tampons for people of all ages. All period underwear no longer resembles bulky, uncomfortable diapers, but rather chic styles that make people feel cute despite the uncomfortable nature of periods.

Knix provides kits that come with a week’s worth of underwear and shorts that can be reused for years. Even though an initial $115 cost can seem like a lot, over the course of many years you can save so much money when not having to pay for a new box of tampons each month. 

Menstrual cups

Menstrual cups offer an internal option to sustainable period products.

The small, flexible cups are inserted into the vagina to contain blood. Cups can be worn for up to 12 hours depending on the heaviness of your flow. They are deemed safer than tampons, because rather than absorbing blood, they contain it, reducing the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome.

Menstrual cups are easy to clean and simply need to be boiled in hot water each month to sanitize them. However, failure to properly rinse cups in between use can increase risk of infection, so it’s important that users are very careful.

Like period underwear, an initial investment in a menstrual cup can save women hundreds of dollars every year. Menstrual cups can still be used with an IUD and do not risk inhibiting any internal forms of contraceptive devices.

Credit: Diva Cup

Brands like Diva Cup can be purchased in Target and Walmart for less than $50 and provide leak-free protection while on your period. Other companies like Cora will provide women in need with period supplies in exchange for every one of their reusable menstrual cups that are purchased.

Cups come in different sizes depending on age and average blood flow. Menstrual cups have been in use since the early 1950s, but now, with new technology, they provide a perfectly safe and environmentally friendly solution to period management. 

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