My Favorite Zero Waste Menstrual Products
Modern menstrual pads and tampons have made feminine hygiene more manageable and convenient. Unfortunately, as with most convenient things, they have a devastating effect on the environment and women’s health because they contain many harmful chemicals.
The average woman will use around 16,000 or more tampons or pads in her lifetime. That’s 7 billion tampons and pads landing in landfills each year! Most contain chemicals, toxins, additives, and synthetic materials, such as plastic, which take a long time to break down. They also leak into nature and pollute our rivers, lakes, streams, and the world.
Menstrual cups are the first green menstrual product you’ll probably want to check out. They’re designed to replace tampons and are made from medical-grade silicone. Although some companies say to replace them every year or two, most people get 5-10 years out of them over a lifetime. That equals roughly 4-8 cups instead of thousands of tampons. It really does make a big difference for the Earth! The menstrual cup I like best is from SAALT.
Reusable sanitary pads are similar to disposables, except they’re made with cloth, bamboo, charcoal, and other natural materials. As with menstrual cups, they can last 5-10 years, and a single pad can potentially replace thousands of disposables. I like hemp pads from this small Etsy company.
One disadvantage is that you have to wash them. However, if you don’t care about staining, throw them in with your regular laundry—it really is that easy. If you care about staining, soak them in cold water after use. I wash mine with soap nuts and line dry them in the sun, which naturally bleaches and disinfects them.
These are my daughter’s favorite because period underwear looks and feels almost identical to regular underwear but can absorb several tampons’ worth of blood, depending on the style. Organic cotton and other sustainable fabrics can offer better breathability. There are many brands, but we like Ruby because they also have period swimwear.
Besides reducing waste, reusable menstrual products are effective, save lots of money, and are very easy to use.
What is your favorite menstrual product?
read more about how to avoid chemicals in our daily life here and how how teenagers are effected by chemicals in personal care products here.
I found that I was unable to use cups due to medical issues so I used natural, sustainably harvested sea sponges. The “ick” factor of rinsing them out didn’t bother me. I also used cloth pads. I’ve since had a hysterectomy ( because of the previously mentioned medical issues). My daughter is 12 and has her period regularly now. I am going to get her some period underwear to try.