4 Zero Waste and Reusable Period Products
Let’s be honest, maintaining a zero waste lifestyle while you are on your period can seem daunting. As women, we have enough on our plates all while dealing with the unpleasant symptoms of a period. Seriously, it’s one thing to swap out shopping bags and kitchen utensils, but swapping out your most personal hygiene product? You have to be pretty confident and committed.
The good news is that transitioning to a zero waste period is not only possible, it’s never been more accessible! Zero waste alternatives are gaining momentum for both their environmental and health benefits. This article will go over four of the best reusable period products that will have you dropping those harmful products by your next cycle.
How do I achieve a more sustainable period?
So you want to start your sustainable journey but may be wondering which zero waste period product is best for you. Luckily, the sustainable period market is growing every year, giving women more product options than ever before.
Until recently, there had been a few mainstream brands that manufactured all the pads and tampons on the market. Walking down the period aisle at the drugstore and picking up whatever is on sale that week is a painfully mundane experience. It’s time to forget all that.
Today, brands have started to create eco-friendly alternatives like period underwear, menstrual cups, organic tampons, and reusable cloth pads. All of these products have plenty of pros, and a few cons, but the bottom line is that it’s entirely up to you where to start.
Why switch to a zero waste period product?
Before we get into the list, let’s quickly go over the problem with conventional period products. Why would you swap out a product that has worked since you were a pre-teen? Well, there are a few reasons why.
Disposable period products have a massive impact on the world’s increasing waste problem. The average woman uses over 11,000 single-use tampons and pads in her lifetime. On a global scale, that adds up quickly. Approximately 19 billion pads and tampons are thrown away each year. Most of them end up in landfills, which leads to a significant contribution to air and soil pollution.
When you consider that most pads and tampons come individually wrapped in plastic…well, that’s adding even more use of plastic packaging and waste.
In addition to the negative environmental impact, disposable period products also pose some serious health risks to women. Most of which are not very forthcoming from household brands that have been in the industry for decades. The truth is that tampons and pads are often made with harmful chemicals and dyes, and synthetic fibres like rayon and dioxin – a known carcinogen.
This all sounds pretty discouraging, but I promised you some game changer products. Below are 4 sustainable period products that I tried and worked for me.
What is the most sustainable period product?
The most sustainable period product is the one that makes you feel the most comfortable during your period. Finding the right sustainable period product can only happen through trial and error, but I would say that a pretty safe way to transition is to start with period underwear. The period underwear has made my life so much easier.
1. Menstrual Cups
Are you looking to completely remove pads and tampons from your period routine? Insert the ever so popular menstrual cup. These are great for women who are looking for a no fuss, low maintenance option. On average, you only have to empty the cup every 10 to 12 hours. It’s also perfectly safe to wear overnight.
Menstrual cups are flexible and designed for comfortable wear during your period. While it can be a little intimidating to use a menstrual cup, you should have little trouble adjusting if you have ever used tampons or worn a Nuvaring.
With proper care, cups can last anywhere from 6 months to 10 years. That’s right, up to 10 years! Of course, this involves thorough cleaning after each use, which tends to be the least favorite part for most women.
By switching to a menstrual cup, you also decrease your chances of getting toxic shock syndrome – a bacterial infection caused by very absorbent tampons. Another win for this swap!
For more details on the menstrual cup, check out this one from my online store. It’s made of medical-grade silicone and has no chemical additives. With its pressure valve, this design is one of the most comfortable and convenient on the market. Options are important, so it comes in two colours – pink or purple.
I must say that it can take a while to get used to it. The experience reminds me of using tampons for the first time. I promise it will get easier with every use.
2. Washable Period Pads
If using a menstrual cup isn’t your thing, consider giving reusable pads a try. If you’re looking for a product that is easy on the environment and your wallet, these reusable period pads are perfect for you.
Using a cloth pad is very similar to using a disposable pad. The only difference is that one is awesome for the environment while the other is not. Once used, a disposable pad gets wrapped up and thrown in the garbage, but cloth pads can be used up to 120 times!
Made of bamboo charcoal, these eco-friendly pads have three layers of fast-absorbing bamboo, and wings to keep them in place. They’re just as absorbent as traditional pads, only without the toxic components or plastic adhesives. After use, simple hand or machine-wash in cold water and line-dry. You can also place them in the dryer on low heat, but why not save those greenhouse gas emissions while you’re at it?!
If you need a little more convincing, here’s a quick price comparison…a reusable pad will cost you approximately $0.025 per use, whereas a disposable pad will run you around $0.23 per use. Give this zero waste option a try and enjoy your extra cash flow!
3. Zero waste period underwear
What if I told you that you didn’t have to use a pad or a tampon ever again? Well, let me introduce you to the latest period craze: period panties.
Period panties are made to be worn in place of a pad or tampon. Check out Saalt’s range of leak proof period underwear here. Their underwear can replace the use of 2 pads or 3 tampons. Ah, convenience!
Whether you are looking for full coverage or a thong, this brand has a variety of styles and colors to choose from. Zero waste underwear is designed to look, feel, and fit just like regular underwear. With a breathable lining that is designed to absorb your menstrual flow, zero waste panties are pretty similar to reusable pads – but they are the more expensive option of the two.
After use, it’s recommended to immediately rinse your panties in cold water to avoid staining. Washing detergent is ok but pass on the fabric softener or bleach to preserve the garment’s function. Similar to regular underwear, period panties can be reused over and over again.
Saalt is also a B Corp and donates a portion of its revenue to those without proper access to menstrual products. As if you needed another reason to try out their awesome products!
Although I really like Saalt, they do not ship to Canada yet.
4. Organic tampons
So you want to start your sustainable period journey but just can’t wrap your head around wearing anything other than a tampon. It’s ok, sometimes we have to walk before we can run. If this sounds like you, organic tampons are a great choice. The good news is that you can actually find them at supermarkets these days. Check the “healthy” or “eco” section of your store.
There are quite a few organic tampon options on the market, like Blume - a female-founded company based in Vancouver. Their tampons are 100% chemical-free, certified organic cotton and biodegradable. They offer also offer an affordable and convenient subscription service so you never have to run out of tampons again.
A common issue in the period market has been the lack of transparency in terms of ingredients. Rest assured that there are no artificial elements in this product - Blume keeps their ingredient list simple and clean. Their tampons are also FDA-approved and have some stellar reviews. Plus, everything is compostable! Once you’re done, you can throw the tampon, packaging, and box into a compost bin.
Women deserve to feel good about what they put into their bodies. Periods can suck – but your tampons don’t have to.
Final thoughts on sustainable periods
Periods can be challenging and unpleasant to deal with. I know from experience. I have the worse periods every. They last up to 10 days and I get all the symptoms. I have found ways to deal with long periods by combining different tools. I use them all, the cup, the organic tampons and the period underwear. From painful cramps to the occasional mood swing, a zero-waste lifestyle might not be your top priority for those 4 to 7 days of the month. I hope this list will make it a little easier to get started on a zero waste approach to your period.
All women deserve to have access to sustainable menstrual products that are safe for their bodies and the environment. Remember to only introduce changes that you are comfortable with and proud to make. Whether you are looking to eliminate plastic entirely or ease into it with a compostable option, there are now healthier ways to have a period with these simple swaps.
It may take some time to adjust to, but you’ve got this. Period.