Last Updated on September 18, 2020 by Nina Ahmedow
Having an eco-friendly period is actually easier and cheaper than you may think. Let’s look at some sustainable period products.
I have mentioned before in my post on cutting down on plastic that I have been trying to find ways to reduce the amount of plastic I use and trash I produce. While it’s not possible to live completely zero waste, I think seriously reducing the harm we cause to our environment in our day to day life is helpful. When you become more conscious of your negative impact on the planet you genuinely start to enjoy the ways in which you can decrease the damage you cause. One major way people can lead a more sustainable lifestyle is by using eco-friendly period products that are not designed to be trashed immediately after a few hours.
The Environmental Impact of Mainstream Menstrual Hygiene Products
The average woman will use about 11,000 tampons or pads in her lifetime, add to that the boxes and packaging. Billions of menstrual hygiene products end up in landfills every year. Let alone the money we spend on these products: The average woman will spend several thousands of euros on menstrual hygiene products in her lifetime.
So what are some sustainable period products we can use instead?
Eco-Friendly Period Products
There are alternatives for an eco-friendly period, however: The two main zero waste period products on the market are the menstrual cup and reusable pads.
Many women worry that reusing pads might be unhygienic. However, these pads are made of 100% cotton and washing them is no different than washing your clothes. If washing machines were not enough to clean our clothes we would certainly not wash and re-wear our underwear, would we? Yet, somehow, the industry has told us that using plastic pads or bleached tampons is the only way of handling our periods.
Plus is it really more hygienic to “store” the used products in the trash and then discard them in landfills for hundreds of years to decompose? The idea that it would be somehow gross to reuse hygiene products is quite new. We have become so far removed from our bodies and how they function that we don’t want to be reminded of their natural processes and would rather toss away any reminders.
The way these sustainable period products work is very simple. Cloth pads have wings like disposable pads, but they snap instead of having an adhesive. Once you replace a pad you rinse it with cold water and possibly an organic soap. You then let it soak in cold water (changing the water daily) until you throw it in the washing machine.
Menstrual cups are made of medical-grade silicone and need to be folded before you insert them after which they pop open to absorb the blood before they have to be rinsed. They can be left in for up to twelve hours, unlike tampons which need to be changed more frequently to avoid toxic shock syndrome. To clean the menstrual cup between periods it’s best to sterilize it in boiling water.
The Advantages of Zero Waste Period Products
While both cloth pads and menstrual cups are initially on the pricier side they pay off fairly quickly because you don’t have to buy new products again every single month for years on end. This is probably one of the major ways to not only reduce your ecological footprint but also save money in the process! Another advantage is that once you buy your zero waste period products you simply have them. You don’t have days where you don’t have a product at home and need to rush to the drug store.
Cloth pads are a lot more comfortable than disposable ones as you don’t feel them at all due to the material. Disposable pads are made of about 90% plastic, and you tend to feel them which can make wearing them a bit uncomfortable.
Disadvantages of Sustainable Period Products
I will admit that there are some struggles with using cloth pads, as they can stain until you really learn how to properly take care of them. But once you get the hang of it they completely change your life.
Likewise, many people struggle with inserting and removing the menstrual cup the first few times. But after a while, everyone seems to get used to it and never looks back.
Have you ever tried zero waste period products? What did you think about them?