How to Have a Zero Waste Period

zero waste period products

Zero Waste Period

Have you ever wondered how to keep things zero waste during your period? I’m excited to share with you the many different options available for waste free menstruation!

First of all, let’s get two things straight. Our conventional use of disposable sanitary products is 1. pretty darn wasteful and 2. potentially harmful to our health. The average woman will use about 20 tampons per menstrual cycle. That’s 240 tampons each year. Over a lifetime, that is A LOT of tampons/pads (around 10,000 per woman) piling up in the landfills, yuck!

To make matters worse, most of our favorite conventional cotton period product brands are full of nasty toxins. These tampons and pads often contain carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, bleach, synthetic materials, chemical fragrance, plastic, and other harmful chemicals that you probably don’t want in or around your lady bits. It’s really frustrating that these tampon/pad companies are not required to divulge what’s exactly in their products.

Don’t worry. There is a better option– reusable zero waste period products! No more single-use plastics or harsh chemicals.

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So here’s the deal; I’m going to introduce you to some awesome reusable zero waste period options here, but if that’s not your thing, at the very least, make the switch to organic non-bleached cotton menstrual products. Get those nasty toxins away from your body ASAP, right?!

Menstrual Cup

The best zero waste period alternative to disposable tampons is a menstrual cup. A menstrual cup is a medical-grade silicone cup that that collects instead of absorbs menstrual blood like tampons. There is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to period cups, but with a little practice they really do work wonderfully. My favorite feature of menstrual cups is that you really only have to change them about every ten to twelve hours or so. It makes that time of the month so much less stressful when you only have to think about it twice a day: when you wake up and when you go to bed.

There are many different styles, brands, and prices of cups so be sure to do your research to find the best fit for you. They are all made of medical grade silicone. I have personally used both the Lunette Cup and Diva Cup and really like both of these brands! Two other popular menstrual cup brands are: Pixie Cup and Lena Cup. Also, note that most menstrual cup brands often have two different sizes. For example, Lunette Cup has Size 1 for Light to Normal Flow and Size 2 for Normal to Heavy Flow.

There’s also a handy quiz out there called Put A Cup In It that can help you decide which reusable menstrual cup is right for you.

Reusable Cloth Pads

zero waste period

A great alternative to disposable sanitary pads is the reusable cloth pad. Cloth pads do require an upfront cost since you will need to buy more than one to last your entire cycle. However, in the long run, they are much cheaper than disposable pads. One great benefit of the cloth pad is the elimination of that plastic-y diaper feel that you normally get with traditional pads. Reusable pads are SUPER soft, breathable, and comfortable. They are often made of natural fibers. They also come in different sizes and styles like cloth liners, moderate absorbency pads, and heavy absorbency pads.

The number one question I get about cloth pads is “how do I wash my cloth pads?” And it’s honestly super simple! If your washable pads are gently used, just toss them directly in the wash with your other laundry. If they are heavily used, rinse them in cold water before throwing them in the washing machine with your other clothes. I know some zero waste moms that also just wash their cloth pads with the cloth diapers at their house.

Another frequently asked zero waste period question I get often is “how do I use cloth pads when I’m out of the house?” For cloth diapering mommas this is probably a no brainer but for everyone else, the key to using cloth pads on the go is to bring a small wet bag.  You can fold up your used cloth pads super tiny and store them in your wet bag until you get home and then throw them in the laundry. Super simple!

If you are crafty, you can even sew your own reusable cloth pads! There are lots of tutorials and cloth pad patterns available on Pinterest. This way, you can customize the size, shape, and absorbency to your liking.

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Period Panties

So the newest menstrual products on the market are zero-waste period panties. Have you heard of them?? They’re leak resistant underwear to be used as backup for menstrual cups or to be used on light days.

I think these reusable menstrual products would be especially great for younger girls.

I’ve purchased both the Thinx and Lunapads brand to try them out and wanted to share my honest experience with you guys. (This is not an ad; I purchased both pairs on my own) These undies aren’t cheap, so I’ve done the work of comparing the two so you don’t have to purchase both, unless you want to of course.

UPDATE: I originally recommended using Thinx period undies. I have purchased 8 pairs myself and used them regularly. However, there has recently been a class action lawsuit against Thinx for having PFAs in their period undies. If you want to read more about the class action settlement, you can find that here: Thinx settled a lawsuit over chemicals in its period underwear. Here’s what to know

PFA Free Period Undies – Bambody

If you are like me and own quite a few pairs of Thinx period undies but are now looking for a PFA free period underwear, I’ve got you! I found this brand called Bambody that makes PFA free period undies. I bought a few pairs to test out myself, and I LOVE them. They’re super soft and comfortable. I sized up in these and they fit perfectly. They have a few different styles to choose from including boy short and briefs. Highly recommend these undies!

Lunapads Period Undies

UPDATE: Lunapads are also PFA free!

I purchased the Hipster style of undies. I was actually sent the Boxer Brief pair by accident, and Lunapads speedily corrected the problem by sending the right pair and told me to give the other pair to someone I thought would enjoy them. So A++ for Lunapads customer service, you guys rock. The actual undies differ from Thinx, because they are predominately cotton fabric. Thinx are some sort of synthetic which of course, isn’t great for the environment, but they feel great on. The Lunapads also come with a removable insert (kind’ve like an extra cloth pad). I was not a fan of the added insert, because it kept bunching and moving around. Using the undies without the insert was fine though for back up to the cup. I imagine women who use cloth pads regularly wouldn’t have a problem with the insert and might prefer this pair to the Thinx. This brand does run small so be sure to size up, mine are a bit tight around the waist band.

Rejeanne Period Undies

UPDATE: I can’t find information on whether or not Rejeanne is PFA free… I’ll keep hunting but for now, stick with Bambody or Lunapads!

I’ve recently tried another brand of period undies that I really like too. Are you beginning to see a trend here? I just love period undies haha! They’re such a game changer, and I really wish they had been around when I was a teenager. Rejeanne is a French brand of menstrual underwear. The Francophile in me was absolutely delighted to try these out. (Did you know I majored in French language during college?!) I tried the light-moderate flow pair and found that they worked very well! Go take a peak at their website, because they have some really cute patterned pairs of underwear. I think the polka dot ones are adorable! Also, the Rejeanne underwear material is similar to Thinx. My only concern with this pair was that they ran super small. If you’re based in the U.S. I definitely recommend sizing up, maybe even two sizes up.

You can find more info on zero waste periods from 1 Million Women!


n conclusion, adopting zero waste period products is a significant step towards reducing our environmental impact and promoting sustainable living. Traditional disposable period products generate a staggering amount of waste, and their production and disposal contribute to carbon emissions, water pollution, and deforestation. By switching to reusable products like menstrual cups, cloth pads, and period underwear, we can significantly reduce the amount of waste we produce while also saving money in the long run.

However, making the switch to zero waste period products can be challenging, especially for those who are used to traditional disposable options. It may take some time and experimentation to find the right product and routine that works for each individual. Still, the benefits are clear, and with more awareness and education on the topic, more people are making the switch to reusable alternatives.

Overall, by embracing reusable period products, we can make a positive impact on our planet and our health while also challenging the cultural taboo surrounding menstruation. It is a small but important step towards a more sustainable and equitable world.

Author’s Note: This blog post was originally posted in February 2016, but I’ve updated some information and want to share it with my newest Tiny Yellow Bungalow followers. Enjoy y’all! ?

Have you made the switch?! What’s your story?

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zero waste period

8 thoughts on “How to Have a Zero Waste Period

  1. I haven’t made the switch yet but I will soon. Only had my periods back for 4 months now since I stopped breastfeeding my daughter. I’ll start with the Diva Cup (which is readily available near me) and will go from there.

    1. I have a Diva Cup and really love mine. It took a little getting used to at first, but so glad I made the switch!

  2. I make my on clothe pads by using discarded clothing and towels of soft cotton. I cut to size and fold. I do have a set of clothe pads I purchased from 15 years ago and supplement with my DYI ones. No need to buy anything if you have an old towel or t-shirt to recycle.

    1. How absolutely eco friendly and zero waste of you! I think handmade is a fantastic option. I’ve seen several patterns for cloth pads online, I might have to experiment with making some in the future!

  3. I absolutely love my Diva Cup! It took a bit getting used to, but after the first couple cycles I don’t even think about it. I love that I am saving money, am waste free, and don’t have to make frantic trips to the store because I forgot to buy tampons! Plus, the Diva Cup has made traveling so much easier! I just grab my cup and a few reusable liners and I am good to go! The best part of the cup is that I know I am caring for my body by not adding harmful toxins to it every month. I hate how dangerous feminine products are and how companies make profit over these risks. I recommend the Diva Cup to every woman, I can’t imagine going back!

    1. Aren’t they the best?! I wish I had made the switch long ago. I think my favorite part about the cup is that you don’t have to worry about it all day, just change it in the morning and before bed. Like you said, that really helps for traveling!

  4. I bought a lunette cup because t was the brand that lost appealed to me. Unfortunately it leaks every time I try it!
    I don’t want to throw it away cause it feel wasteful, does anyone know where I can recycle silicone?
    Also I use cloth pads now but would love a menstrual cup for travelling and outdoor activities. Do you think that perhaps the lunette cup just wasn’t right for my body and another brand may work?

    Thanks in advance for any help 🙂

    1. Hi Hope! I don’t have experience with the lunette cup, but I do know there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to cups. I had some leaking in the beginning as well and did a little Google research and learned that sometimes menstrual cups leak if they aren’t inserted properly (either too high or didn’t open all the way once inside) or for anatomical reasons meaning the positioning of your cervix! Don’t kick the cup just yet, maybe try making some adjustments with your cup for your next period and use a cloth panty liner just in case. I use the diva cup brand and love it, so it might just be that you haven’t found the brand that’s the right fit for you. Good luck!! 🙂

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