How you manage your period is an incredibly personal decision – it depends on your flow, what’s comfortable for you, the type of products you have access to and what you can afford.
There’s one more thing on that list that you might be overlooking: the environment.
We no longer have the luxury of ignoring the environmental impact of menstrual waste. Conventional pads and tampons are made of plastic, individually wrapped and packaged in more plastic and cardboard. And that doesn’t account for what goes into the processing of menstrual products.
The average women will use about 11,000 tampons or pads over the course of her menstruating life, which adds up to a lot of paper and plastic waste. Just because you’ve flushed it doesn’t mean it’s gone away – applicators and pads are floating in our oceans, washing up on beaches and clogging landfills.
Today we have more choice than ever before for choosing products to manage our menstrual flow, including a wide variety of environmentally friendly reusable products like cups and cloth pads. While these products were once reserved only for the crunchiest hippies, savvy marketing campaigns that appeal to a younger demographic that are more eco-conscious have brought reusable menstrual products into the mainstream.
Why and how to choose period products that are better for the environment – and you!
Here’s your guide to navigating greener menstrual products.
Menstrual cups are exactly what they sound like – cups made from medical-grade materials that sit in the vagina and collect menstrual blood. When it’s full the cup is emptied, rinsed out and reinserted. With proper care, a menstrual cup can last for years, keeping hundreds, maybe thousands, of plastic products out of landfills and saving you money. Visit PutACupInIt.com and take their quiz to find the perfect cup for you! (Listen here for how to use a menstrual cup.)
A great alternative to conventional pads, cloth pads are made from cotton, hemp or bamboo and come in the same wide variety of styles and absorbencies you’d find at the drugstore, from panty-liners to postpartum protection. After they’ve been used you simply rinse them out, toss them in the laundry and wear them again during your next cycle. LunaPads has a great selection and a one-for-one program that donates a pad to a schoolgirl in East Africa when select pads are purchased. Or, if you’re crafty you can always sew your own!
The hottest menstrual management trend since tampons first hit the market, period underwear has built-in protection, with no need for additional products. Like cloth pads they come in a variety of styles – including gender-neutral briefs – and absorbencies. Rinse, wash and repeat! Knixwear and Thinx are two brands to check out.
Biodegradable Pads and Tampons
If you really can’t get behind reusable products, or for times when disposables just make sense – like travelling for example – be sure to look for pads or tampons that are made from organic cotton and are processed without bleach or other harsh chemicals. These things are bad for the environment, and for your body!
Finally, be mindful of packaging. Skip the applicators and choose products that aren’t using a lot of excess plastic or paper in their packages.
Steer Clear of Gimmicks
The “feminine hygiene” industry is big business that’s designed to profit off of the shame and taboo of your body. We don’t need douches or scented tampons or special plastic wrappers to disguise menstrual waste in public restroom trashcans – yes, this is a real! These products are wasteful, and not just because they’re made of plastic, they’re wasting your money too.
The next time you need to replenish your period product stash, go for the green. Not only will the environment be better off, your wallet and your body will be too!
Living Well In Motherhood
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