Don’t feel icky! No period shaming here! Only solutions to a pretty big plastic problem that women haven’t really been able to avoid until the last decade or so – how to get by each month without contributing more single-use plastic to landfill?
Well! I’m happy to report there are now some awesome ways to reduce or completely avoid plastic usage during your period, but first, let’s run through some quick stats so we know where we stand with ‘the usual’ menstrual products.
Did you know:
- Up to 90% of menstrual/sanitary pads are plastic.
- A woman will use approximately 15000 single-use menstrual products in her lifetime which end up in landfill.
- The majority of pads and tampons are individually wrapped in plastic and then presented in a packet wrapped in plastic.
- Many women still flush pads and tampons down the toilet which then contribute to fatbergs – disgusting blockages in the sewer system from people flushing all manner of things down the toilet and pouring grease and fat down sinks.
- Many pads and tampons contain bleach, dye or cotton that has been sprayed with pesticides.
The upshot of this is that these items are bad for the environment, bad for your hip pocket and can contain some pretty dodgy ingredients that could harm you. So wouldn’t it be great to find a reusable alternative that was chemical-free and saved you money (and the planet)?
That’s why I’m writing this post. I want you to know there are better options out there that work! Don’t be afraid to try these as I’m sure you’ll find something that suits you and will help you feel better about making another low-waste change.
So what are these eco-friendly options? I’m glad you asked!
- Reusable, leakproof period underwear. These are the bomb! You wear them like normal underwear, but they are leakproof. They can be worn for extended periods of time (8-12 hours depending on the day) and have antibacterial properties. They can be used for menstruation, incontinence and perspiration and when you need to change, just rinse and chuck in with your normal wash. Check out Modibodi to try some out – they are an Aussie company and their products are ethically-made. TOP TIPS – Sun dry to maintain the leakproof nature of these undies. The tumble drier is not their friend. Rinsing out in cool water in the shower is the easiest way to clean them before washing.
- Reusable, cloth pads. These work in the same way as sanitary pads, but better! It may seem unbelievable, but they are actually more absorbent than the single-use ones. They come with wings and just clip on to your underwear. They are better for people with sensitive skin as they are completely chemical-free and you can just rinse and throw in with your normal wash. A great Aussie brand made from organic cotton is hannahpad. TOP TIPS – Some people soak these but I find rinsing immediately is the easiest. Always rinse in cold water as hot water can lock in stains.
- Menstrual cups. This is a small silicone or latex cup that you insert which catches your menstrual fluid and only needs to be emptied every 12 hours or so (this varies depending on person and flow). There are various sizes and it can take some experimenting to find the one that suits you, but once you do, it’s a game changer! Some women absolutely swear by these as you can keep them in for so long and only have to empty, rinse and reinsert during your period. Once your period is over, you give it a proper wash to sterilise it and then keep for next month. Check out Juju Cups for a good range of shapes and sizes. TOP TIPS – Try at home or pair with leakproof underwear until you are comfortable that you have the right fit that won’t leak. Do your research before purchasing to find one that is suited to you (it can depend on age and whether you’ve given birth).
- Biodegradeable, organice pads and tampons. These are not an entirely plastic-free option but if you want to stick with these kinds of products, choosing biodegradable is the best eco choice.These are becoming more readily available in supermarkets and some common brands are TOM or Cottons. TOM has recently cut back on the plastic packaging they use and are made from organic cotton so are better for you and the planet that the synthetic versions. TOP TIPS – Don’t flush down the toilet!
The reusable options are the ‘double-whammy’ options – you get to make a sustainable choice but also save money because once you have bought them, you don’t need to go and spend money each month on the other type of period products. So cool.
So there you have it. There are a few different options you can try for a plastic-free or biodegradable ‘time of the month’ and I’m sure you’ll feel great about making the switch.
And if you found these tips useful, head over and join my free Facebook group Rebel Eco Family where we share practical low-waste living tips on the daily!