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A Guide to Sustainable Period Products

Written by Tori Scott

Whilst standard period products are convenient and easy-to-access for most people, they can be harmful on both skin and the environment. When coming to produce these non-organic products, for example, they are often saturated in pesticide and insecticides. 

Most tampons have chemicals such as dioxin, chlorine, and rayon which are soaked up by the earth and released as pollution. Yet, these period products are a necessity for women, with the average using 20 tampons/pads per month, or around 240 per year.

So, with the effects on the environment, the overall cost, and potential irritation on skin, more and more women are choosing more sustainable solutions. As an example, over a lifetime, women could purchase four menstrual cups, or around 12,000 tampons.

Many people react differently to sustainable period products, though, from being absolutely in love with them to disliking the hassle and pricing compared to disposable, easily accessible options.

There are many sustainable products to choose from, and I spoke to a few girls who let me know their experiences with the products:

Period Underwear

It is scary to think about at first; free leaking into your underwear feels like a strange concept, but these are made to give you extra protection than normal underwear.

These underwear are made from super-absorbent, odour-eliminating fabric, and are double layered.

Double layering just means that the first layer is a moisture barrier and then the second layer works to prevent leakages.

Alice uses period underwear for “extra protection or by themselves on light days”, and commented that it helps “neutralise the smell”.

Hanna uses period pants “for the end of my period to avoid using too many pads” and continued by adding that they’re “good at night and never leak!”

Menstrual Cup

A menstrual/diva cup is flexible, often made from medical grade silicone, and reusable. You can even leave them in for up to 12 hours.

Charlie mentioned how menstrual cups have been “better overall for my period, I hardly even notice when I’m on anymore, and feel so much cleaner!”

Liv mentioned that since using her moon cup for 6-7 months, she “would never go back to using non-reusable period products.”

Amelia was extremely new to sustainable products when she first started using them and said, “I was really lucky in that I felt like enough people were using sustainable period products meaning there was loads of advice and help available online.”

She continued by adding that she “fell in love with the menstrual cup as soon as I started using it.”

In my experience, using the menstrual cup was not difficult and quite affordable. However, using it for the first time, it was tricky to figure out how to insert and how far to put the menstrual cup in. I made the mistake of putting it too far in and getting it stuck for 5 minutes.

After learning from a bad experience, the cup is an incredible substitute for standard products.

Reusable Pads

Reusable pads are much more absorbent and thinner than your standard disposable pads, being made of bamboo or cloth.

Being able to reuse them cuts down on plastic waste, as they are easily washable for continued use. There are many different brands now offering them, all in different designs and sizes for different flows and preferences.

Emma mentioned: “Non-reusable pads always irritated my skin, and I no longer have that problem with reusable pads.”

She continued by adding: “reusable pads last longer but are also expensive. For me, the investment is worth it because of the benefits over the non-reusable period products.”

Menstrual cups seem to be the most-used product within the group of girls I spoke to, but there are so many different options to choose from that it can feel a bit overwhelming when first starting out.

If you’re just starting off, companies such as Organic Mondays, a plastic-free period subscription service, is a great way to start off and try out different products!

Don’t let the choice of product put you off. Sustainable products aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it is an amazing way to help the environment and save a little money each month!

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