When it comes to sustainable period products, the ‘sustainable’ aspect might not be the highest priority to many women…
Indeed, their focus, will likely be, well, on managing the already delicate situation, and making it that much more overall comfortable.
Ok, ok, l had to – that will be the only pun. Probably.
Now, not long ago, it was still commonplace to feel that as individuals we could have such a significant difference on sustainability and environmentalism.
It felt many voices were ignored or even suppressed. Especially as women.
However, as has become clear, this no longer remaining the case, and environmentalists, conservationists, policymakers, or simply broader public are pushing for our own societal change to ensure combat against climate change.
This includes in individualistic action – the choices we make, the efforts we go to, and the changes we personally pursue to make a difference.
And this even includes in menstruation, by utilising sustainable period products.
So, keep reading to find out how you can times of red can be made that much easier by going green.
It’s likely as a consumer of disposable pads or tampons for most of your menstruating life, you’re aware of the ill-effects these products can have in different forms.
Intro – why sustainable period products
But are you fully aware of the environmental ill-effects?
For instance, annually in India more than 6%, of non- biodegradable waste is usually composed of disposable menstrual products – something rarely acknowledged
Indeed, one individual will menstruate approximately 450 times throughout their life. [https://www.teenvogue.com/story/sustainable-period-products]
So, this will involve about 450 weeks when a proportion of any given population will utilise some form of material, product, or sadly in poorer communities, whatever practically feasible to absorb it.
Putting periods product numbers in perspective
Using India again, lets use some figures to show the scale of menstrual waste:
- If there are approximately 1.3 billion people in India, of which roughly half are women that gives us 650 million relevant individuals.
- (Also based on data from the World Bank database.)
- However, that number isn’t accurate either as it includes those who are too young or old to experience menstruation.
- Accounting for that, the menstruating population will be around 439,520,000 people.
- Then multiple this by 450 of separate period products or devices to help with menstruation.
This gives you around 198 BILLION, pieces of individual waste!
And that is just in one country!
And with a specific type of products.
This really helps to put into perspective the scale of not merely menstruation waste, but global waste.
Since it would be, well, unsanitary to use someone else’s sanitary product…
Consider the global perspective, among various other countries or communities which might not have access to any period products, or groups who cannot afford them outright.
What’s more, it’s so costly!
Women, either due to lack of knowledge of sustainable period products or not being introduced to them, have yet to make the switch to eco-friendly tampons for example.
Sustainable menstrual products offer a cost-effective, such as with reusable pads, which simultaneously don’t add to landfills or carcinogenic fumes when burnt.
Eco friendly period products are healthier too
Naturally, this post is about the environmental advantages of tampon alternatives or eco-friendly period products.
But what would you think if l said that bio-degradable products also benefit your body – even protecting it from unwanted, unknown substances or materials?
Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is one such example.
While it is rare, it still happens and is serious reflecting that those who use menstruation products can be putting themselves at risk.
And therefore as a woman, having knowledge of sustainable menstruation is important, as it incorporates the use of environmental-friendly menstrual products.
In turn, this has changed women’s perspective of what comfortable periods should feel like.
These period products have taken the world by storm and have put women’s minds at ease, giving them the comfort needed while making them feel much happier during their time of the month.
Here are some ways to make your period better for the environment.
Sustainable Period Products: Pads
When it comes to eco friendly pads, there are a few options, removing any possibility for pesky plastic to make an appearance:
Reusable Period Underwear
Now, on the face of it, the idea of reusable underwear…specifically for menstruation doesn’t exactly appeal.
However, look at it differently.
How many of us have designated old, unliked or whatever pieces of underwear as the ones we wear during those periods (yes, l know, another pun)?
See, there is method to the madness.
Moreover, these specific underwear are practically much simpler, fitting regularly but be able to absorb much more than those old undies.
The materials used in period underwear might not be sustainable – some of the most popular use elastane and polyester, which still encompass the chance of microplastics.
Not ideal for the environmental nor your body.
Therefore, look for independent brands or producers, around your neighbourhood or on sites like Etsy.
Minami Cohen is one such example, who use 100% organic cotton and bamboo. Yay!
Biodegradable Organic Cotton Pads
Another example of biodegradable and eco friendly pads are those made from organic cotton.
Much like the brand mentioned previously, organic cotton does offer a genuinely long-term sustainable, yet practical way to deal with menstruation.
An example of this is Natracare.
Established in 1989, their products utilise organic cotton, near exclusively, ranging from non-applicator tampons, to those which are biodegradable.
Furthermore, their pads contain cellulose pulp (ecologically certified), plant starch, and ‘non-toxic glue’.
Finally, all their packaging is recycled or totally biodegradable too. They also use vegetable-based inks!
Now that’s going the extra, right?
Lola and Oi represent another two budget-friendly brands, including compostable options meaning they can add to your compost not the landfill.
Reusable Organic Cotton Pads
Now alternative to the alternative of biodegradable products, are those that are reusable.
These pads are usually designed with washing and reuse in mind, enabling them to last years in effectively cared for. Plus they’ll likely have varied colours options too.
See, so you can save money and the environment while feeling funky doing it!
Just be sure to check the material is guaranteed organic cotton – not merely combined or a composite including synthetic materials.
None of that greenwashing BS, thank you.
And Avni Safepads, as India’s first antimicrobial cloth pads are a perfect example where you rinse them before then simply placing them into the washing machine like any other clothing item.
Plus, they are very hygienic because the anti-microbial properties ensure the fabric cleanliness doesn’t deteriorate.
Sustainable Period Products: Tampons
The main, obvious alternative to pads, tampons can still ensure you have a sustainable period.
If you have even remotely considered shifting to eco-friendlier menstruation, you’ll have encountered menstrual cups.
They’re simple, yet highly effective at collection.
And can be both colourful and comfortable as they don’t interfere with the natural moisture of the twinkle cave. They also have long lifespans of 12 hours.
They can be made of silicone or rubber latex – which are soft and easier to remove than conventional menstruation products.
Moreover, they offer leak-free protection, lasting for several years without ever needing to be replaced.
Inevitably, with time they will tear, stain or similar, making it the appropriate time to replace it.
But if this over several years, even decade long period, that’s undeniably value-for-money.
So that means you give both your wallet and the environment a much-needed break!
Seriously, even higher quality ones only cost £20 or $35!
All you need to know are 4 easy steps:
- emptying the menstrual fluid,
- washing the cup thoroughly.
After which you’re all done and ready for your next cycle.
If there’s one product l encourage you to look into for more details its these.
Recyclable menstrual discs
Menstrual discs are similar to cups, only have a different shape.
While there are disposable versions they aren’t as sustainable.
Equally, they can be harder to remove depending on the material they are made from.
That said they can be more comfortable for certain women who cannot find cups that are comfortable or well-fitting for them.
And they even allow you (apparently) to get a little cheeky with your partner if you so desired.
Check out Lumma Disc, Ziggy Cup or Nixit for some ideas – both for cups or discs.
Having a low waste period on the road
Trying to be green while in the red is hard at the best of times.
Let alone, while on the road.
As if traveling wasn’t stressful or confusing enough, we then have to contend with another element our bodies so kindly decide to throw at us.
Such joyous occasions.
Still below we have complied a few of the best of methods and examples of how to minimise any surprises…
Organic tampons: a top choice for trips with swimming/water activities:
We like this option for trips when we will be swimming a lot and therefore unable to use period underwear.
If you want to cut back on waste further, get a reusable applicator from DAME.
Menstrual cup: an even more low-waste option.
We recommend traveling with a mentrual cup if you will have access to a kettle.
Since you need to place it in boiling water to sanitize it.
You should also have access to clean drinking water.
Reusable period underwear and/or pads:
These are great zero waste options for travel without taking up much extra space in the suitcase.
However, we suggest placing the used period underwear or pads into a reusable and sealable bag (i.e. stasher bag) until they can be washed.
This will prevent other items in your suitcase or the suitcase itself from getting soiled and prevents odours.
Takeaways – care for yourself and nature simultaneously
So, as you can see, there is quite an array of eco-friendly alternatives.
Though, if you’re still hesitant to fully commit, a decent start will be to cut out plastic applicators.
Seriously, what is they purpose, when you have fingers?
They only serve to be flushed away before clogging sews, overflowing into oceans and severely harming ecosystems.
So, cut them out completely.
And finally, ignore and even better, actively criticize the use of reusable sea sponges.
These were once living aquatic organisms, that were plucked from oceans to be used for human use – which to me, defeats the point of protecting the environment.
And if you know anyone who does use them, show them this post so they can make an informed change to a better sustainable period product.
What are your thoughts? Leave me comment.