How to have an eco-friendly and sustainable period
Updated: Oct 31, 2019
50% of the world's population experiences a menstrual period within their lifetime. So, imagine how much waste is produced from all the menstrual products used? In today's more eco-conscience society, there are so many great ways to be more sustainable in even the most intimate of matters!
If you're a period-producing human reading this, and you've been figuring out how to live more sustainably, then having a more sustainable period might have crossed your mind a few times.
There are almost 4 BILLION women in the world that have periods, and on average periods last for 5 days, spanning approximately 40 years in one woman's lifetime. That's A LOT of menstrual products being used and disposed of!
It's estimated that the average woman throws away 250-300 pounds of menstrual products (think pads, applicators, tampons, etc) in their lifetime. And a lot of the materials used in conventional feminine products aren't recyclable/biodegradable, so they just sit in the landfill... And if that trash gets burned, then harmful chemicals (that are in so many of our conventional feminine products) are released into the atmosphere.
The chemicals used in feminine care products are virtually unregulated. The FDA does not conduct any tests to determine if they are safe for our bodies... The FDA states that,
"Companies and individuals who manufacture or market cosmetics have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of their products. Neither the law nor FDA regulations require specific tests to demonstrate the safety of individual products or ingredients. The law also does not require cosmetic companies to share their safety information with FDA."
This basically means a company does not have to disclose what ingredients and chemicals make up their feminine care products. They have free-reign to use whatever they'd like, and there's no way of assuring consumers they are safe.
This is SO. SHOCKING. We need to do better. Companies need to do better. The FDA needs to do better.
You're probably thinking, "How does one have a safe and clean period?! What should I do/use?"
Well, my friends, there are options. And they are glorious.
*I am not sponsored by any of these products. These are just suggestions that I have done research on/have tested myself. I make no money from you clicking a product and then purchasing it from the website.
The Menstrual Cup
Now, this is my personal favorite method. It took me a while to get on board, but once I did, I haven't looked back. It's hard for some people to adjust to the idea of a menstrual cup because they think it's messy.
Yes, it can be, but with some practice it will become such an easy way of managing your period. It is best to be used in a single-stall/private restroom where you will have access to a sink so you can rinse your cup upon reinsertion. However, the cup can remain inside you for 12 hours, so you'll be able to empty it out in the comfort of your own home/hotel room if you're out of town!
A menstrual cup is made from medical-grade silicone and can last up to 10 years, so you'd already be eliminating a huge amount of disposable pads, tampons, etc. from landfills! It's completely #nontoxic and a much cheaper alternative when you factor in the cost of how many pads/tampons you'd use in just a year's supply.
I personally use the Diva Cup, but there are so many out there to choose from! It does take a bit of trial and error to figure out what size is best for you. Take this quiz at Putacupinit.com to figure out what kind would work best.
Organic Cotton Tampons
There are so many options out there to choose from now, so that's a step in the right direction when it comes to sustainable and eco- and health-friendly periods.
Now, I am in an exclusive relationship with my menstrual cup, so I can't actually talk about which organic cotton tampon I prefer. It's honestly been about 4 years, YEARS! since I've used a tampon. That blows my mind...
If I were to try a tampon again, it would be Kali. Helping out the environment any way that I can is important to me, and this company would allow me to minimize my impact. <3
Apparently, they look just like regular panties, but can absorb up to two tampons worth! That's pretty impressive.
I guess I'm hesitant because I tend to have a heavy flow, and have had a history of leakage even when using super pads and tampons.
But some really swear by them and have had no problems with leakage.
After you wear them you rinse them (just like you would a cloth pad). Let them dry, then put them in your lingerie bag. Having a lingerie bag keeps your delicates from getting ruined. Let them wash, but be sure to HANG DRY them only!!! You'll ruin them if you put them in the dryer.
These are similar to disposable pads, but (you got it) you don't throw them away. They will have a snap that wraps around your panties and keeps them in place.
But why switch from disposable pads to cloth ones? Well, for one, it would be a lot less waste produced. Two, disposable pads and tampons contain chemicals that are potentially harmful. Gladrags.com states that,
"While pads have never been linked to TSS, conventional disposable pads contain all kinds of chemicals -- and manufacturers are not required to list these ingredients on their packaging! These ingredients range from wood pulp and adhesives to artificial fragrance and chemical gels. Not the type of stuff you want next to one of the most sensitive parts of your body!"
Do yourself a huge favor and swap out some of your disposables for cloth. If your budget doesn't allow you to make the full swap, consider using the cloth for one day of your period! #anybithelps
Organic Cotton Pads
Lola makes organic cotton pads if tampons aren't your preferred product! I've always felt like I'm wearing a diaper when I use a pad, but I know my sentiments aren't shared with everyone. My mom didn't actually start using tampons until I did in high school! I somehow convinced her to get on the tampon train...
Some women supplement a panty-liner or pad with their menstrual cup (even tampon), and you want to make sure it'll biodegrade (since we can't recycle our used pads and tampons...).
You also want to make sure that you're using products with 100% organic cotton. Why?
Conventional cotton is riddled with pesticides, which remains in the cotton when processed to become a pad/tampon. These chemicals/pesticides should be nowhere near the most vulnerable parts of our bodies.
I still use panty-liners that I bought soooo long ago when my period is on its last day, and the flow is super light, and I don't feel like keeping my cup in.
Even though I honestly can't feel my cup at this point, so it doesn't really matter.
If you're wanting to stop using the tampons/pads you already have, consider donating them. There are so many women that cannot get hygienic menstrual products (even in the US!), and every little bit helps. Not everyone has the option to switch to organic cotton pads, tampons, etc. Some women can't even afford the conventional products.
Consider donating to I Support the Girls.
Look below to see how ISTG started!
We can make a difference if all of us make an effort to reduce our waste. Yes, it NEEDS to happen on a corporate level, but #moneytalks and when companies see the trends of consumers' habits, they change their products to WHAT SELLS. So, #votewithyourdollar and demand for safer, sustainable, and eco-friendly feminine care products!
With love and sincerity,