Eco-Friendly Period Products and Why You Need Them
I try to live my life with no regrets. However, a serious one is that I didn’t know about reusable feminine hygiene products until I was in my 30’s. All those wasted years! I don’t know what it was—maybe I wasn’t hanging around with the right people, or maybe these products weren’t so popular back then.
Whatever the case, I’m happily on the eco-friendly period train now. I’ll give you a few reasons why reusables are a better choice than disposables and then highlight the choices available to you.
Reusables vs. Disposables: The Environment
Think about how many pads and tampons someone uses in a single month. Multiply this by 12 for the year. Then multiply that by decades. It ends up being more than 10,000.
It’s a lot of waste going into the landfill, much of which is plastic and doesn’t biodegrade.
A menstrual cup and reusable cloth pads can last for up to 10 years with proper care. Cloth pads are biodegradable, and menstrual cups can often be recycled. Reusables are clearly a much better choice for the eco-friendly among us.
Reusables vs. Disposables: Money
Turn your thoughts again to all those disposable pads and tampons you’ve been using and how much they cost. They’re not cheap, to say the least. The Huffington Post suggests that you’ll spend almost $20,000 on period care over the course of a lifetime.
Menstrual cups are around $30, while a reusable cloth pad is about $5. It’s a bit more money up-front, but you’ll recoup your costs in only a few months. Over the medium to long-term, it’s a way to save a lot of money, and it’ll go a long way towards reducing that $20,000 to something much more reasonable.
Reusables vs. Disposables: Health
The final reason to consider reusable menstruation products over disposables is our health. Tampon and sanitary pad manufacturers in the USA aren’t required to disclose what’s in them because they’re classified as “medical products.”
What’s in them are pesticides from the cotton, and chemicals from the manufacturing process. Unless you go organic, those things are inside of you, or next to your skin for up to a week each month. There is a better way, and that’s reusable options.
The other health factor to consider is Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) that comes along with using tampons. This is a rare, but very serious problem. There have been no reported cases of TSS with menstrual cups—another reason to make the switch!
Let’s get into the two most popular options.
Reusable Option #1: A Menstrual Cup
Most people, when they make the switch from disposables to reusables start with a menstrual cup. The most popular one in the world is the Diva Cup. You’ve probably heard of it. In case you haven’t, it’s a bell-shaped silicone cylinder that’s inserted into your vaginal canal. It collects the fluid, you take it out, empty it, wash with soap and water, and then reinsert it.
Menstrual Cups have roughly five times the capacity of the average tampon so you should only have to empty it 2-4 times a day. If you have a heavy period, check out these high-capacity menstrual cups.
The hardest thing about using a menstrual cup is learning how to use it correctly. It sometimes leaks like crazy at the beginning (wear a pad), but most people get the hang of it after 3-4 cycles.
Reusable Option #2: Cloth Menstrual Pads
The next option to consider are cloth menstrual pads. The best ones are organic, although even the non-organic ones are fine if you wash them first. They are intended to replace disposable pads, and most people find that they work reasonably well.
Most of them are surprisingly absorbent, and stain-free. Once you’re done with them, you wash them with your regular laundry to use again.
The big negative to cloth pads is that they shift around a bit more than the disposable ones especially during exercise. However, it’s mostly a matter of finding the right model and size for your body type.
Ready to Go Reusable?
You’ll be doing something good for your health, the environment, as well as your bank account!
About the Author
Jackie Bolen is a tree-hugging friend of the Earth that can often be found catching a wave, on top of a mountain, or drinking organic coffee around Vancouver, B.C. Her hope is that one day, a reusable feminine hygiene product will be found in the hands of every single menstruating person, because it has the potential to change the world for the better.