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 tampons and pads is 1. pretty darn wasteful and 2. potentially harmful to our health. A woman will use, on average, 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 period product brands are full of nasty toxins. These tampons and pads often contain carcinogens, bleach, synthetic fibers, chemical fragrance and plastic 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.
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?!
The best zero waste period alternative to the disposable tampon 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 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. I have personally used both the Lunette Cup and Diva Cup and really like both of these brands! 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
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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 disposables. One great benefit of the cloth pad is the elimination of that plastic-y diaper feel that you normally get with disposable pads. Cloth pads are SUPER soft, breathable, and comfortable. 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 cloth 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 wash 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.
So the newest menstrual products on the market are 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’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.
I purchased the Hiphugger style of undies. Anddd, I love them. They’re perfect for light days and as back up for the cup. It doesn’t even feel like wearing some sort of strange absorbent underwear. I love that they’ve got lacy embellishment at the waist band, making the time of the month when you feel the least gorgeous a little less terrible. I would say these undies run true to size. The only cons of the Thinx pair is they are expensive. A warning though… don’t use them on heavy days (without a cup), even if you choose the most absorbent pair. They will smell AWFUL…
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.
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!