Sustainable Period Products to the Rescue

Let’s face it, periods suck. There’s the cramps, or if you’re like me, the never ending hunger, not to mention the horror when you discover you’ve completely run out of tampons or pads. How many of us have run around the house, searching in every tiny pocket or bag looking for just one more?

Did you know that the average woman can use upwards of 11,000 tampons or pads in her lifetime? In America alone, nearly 20 billion pads and tampons are sent to landfills EVERY YEAR. But when you’re faced with a familiar $10 disposable option versus a $30 reusable option, it’s easy to reach for whatever is easiest and cheapest (at least if you’re my college self).  What I didn’t realize was that buying a $10 box of tampons every month would end up being much more expensive than investing in a reusable product, and not to mention much more harmful for the environment.

Many reusable products can help relieve some of your period symptoms and are safer as they use natural or organic materials, which help to lower chances of toxic shock syndrome (TSS) and bacterial infection.

These products may seem more hands-on than you might be used to if you’ve been using disposable tampons or pads. Some require a bit more cleaning while others can seem pretty scary (a cup that suctions to my vagina? Um….) but once you’ve gotten over the learning curve it’s easier to get into a monthly routine.

But how do these products compare to traditional ones? Read more to find out!

Traditional Pads & Tampons

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Traditional disposable pads and tampons might seem low maintenance but they can be quite dangerous (google: TSS). They’re filled with a boat-load of chemicals (they’re basically chlorine-bleached wads of inorganic cotton) and when you think about the fact that you’re actually sticking it inside of you, it makes sense that a lot of people are hesitant about the healthiness of it. Not to mention that disposing of them results in all those chemicals are going out into the environment.

Speaking of environment, we can’t forget that the average woman goes through more than 10,000 pads or tampons in her lifetime, all of which end up scattered in landfills or in the ocean.

Ratings:
Maintenance: Medium
Mess Factor: Low
Eco-Friendliness: Low
Safety: Medium
Comfort: Medium
Leak-Proof: Medium
Holds: 5ml
How often to change: 4-6hours
Price: $-$$

Menstrual Disks

The Flex Company Menstrual Disk

The Flex Company Menstrual Disk

Unlike tampons or pads, disks don’t absorb your flow but catch it! Menstrual disks sit slightly further up inside of you than a typical tampon and rest against your pubic bone. This means that you can have mess-free, comfortable sex while wearing them!

They’re pretty simple to use too - when you’re ready to take it out, just feel for the edge of the disk and slide it  out of you. Easy peasy!

The only downside is that most menstrual disks are not reusable and made of polymer (a type of plastic). But these bad boys last for hours and hold up to one full ounce of liquid. That means you’ll end up using (and throwing away) way less!

Ratings:
Maintenance: Low
Mess Factor: Low
Eco-Friendliness: Medium
Safety: Very
Comfort: High
Leak-Proof: High
Holds: 1 oz (2-5 tampons worth)
How often to change: 8-12 hours
Price: $$

We recommend: Softdisk, The Flex Company

Menstrual Cups

Lunette Menstrual Cup

Lunette Menstrual Cup

These are similar to disks in that they also catch your flow but these are actually reusable! Most cups can be left inserted for up to 10-12 hours which means you don’t have to worry about them all day! Plus - they hold a full ounce! It is recommended to change out your cup once a year and to deep clean it throughout your period following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Now, the tricky part comes when you’re trying to take them out so we’d suggest giving it a couple of go’s before your period actually starts, just so you can get the hang of it.

While some tampons can have a whole set of chemicals (bleach and dioxin are some common names), cups do not, meaning they’re a safe option! Just make sure you’re buying from a reputable manufacturer.

P.S. don’t worry the cup won’t get lost inside of you.


Ratings:
Maintenance: Medium
Mess Factor: Medium
Eco-Friendliness: Very
Safety: Very
Comfort: Medium
Leak-Proof: High
Holds: 1 oz (2-5 tampons worth)
How often to change: 10-12 hours
Price: $$

We recommend: DivaCup ($29.99), Lunette ($39.99), RubyCup ($32),

Plastic-free, Organic tampons

Bon Organic Tampons

Bon Organic Tampons

Whether you’re just starting out on your sustainable period journey or you’re just looking for new products to add to your routine, these tampons are a great option.

Organic cotton means less chemicals being introduced to your body! And most organic tampons come with plastic-free applicators or no applicator at all. That means when you dispose of them, you’re not disposing of plastic or introducing chemicals into the environment.

Ratings:
Maintenance: Low
Mess Factor: Low
Eco-Friendliness: Low
Safety: Medium
Comfort: Medium
Leak-Proof: Medium
Holds: 5ml
How often to change: 4-6 hours
Price: $$-$$$

We recommend: Lola, Seventh Generation,  NatraCare, Bon


Reusable Pads (and tampons)

Gladrags Day Pad

Gladrags Day Pad

There are tons of reusable pad options out there now--even Etsy has a ton! Not only do reusable pads help reduce stress and anxiety surrounding your period but one pad can replace over 120 disposable ones! Just like your regular ol’ pads, these hold varying amounts of your flow and range from panty liner to super!

Unlike your old pads, you have to rinse and wash these which means you’ll want to buy a few at a time so you’ve got enough pads to last until you wash the used ones.

Ratings:
Maintenance: High
Mess Factor: High
Eco-Friendliness: High
Safety: Medium
Comfort: Medium
Leak-Proof: Medium-Low
Holds: 5ml
How often to change: 4-6 hours
Price: $

We recommend: Gladrags,  Lunapads

Period Panties

Thinx Hiphugger Panties

Thinx Hiphugger Panties

Don’t Thinx twice about these awesome panties--see what we did there? Period panties are a great alternative for reusable pads. These panties catch your flow and trap moisture and odor so you don’t have to worry about leaking while you’re going about your day! Thinx panties come with different absorbency levels based on the type of panty: thongs only hold ½ a tampon’s worth while the hip-huggers hold up to 1 ½ tampon’s worth.

Just like the pads and tampons, you’ll have to rinse and wash these so make sure to stock up before your next period.

Ratings:
Maintenance: High
Mess Factor: Medium
Eco-Friendliness: High
Safety: High
Comfort: Medium
Leak-Proof: Medium-Low
Holds: 2.5-10ml
How often to change: Daily (but, depending on your flow, you might want to use it with another product)
Price: $$

We recommend: Thinx ($34), Lunapads Maia Brief ($35.99), Knix ($25),

sea sponges

Poseidon Sponge

Poseidon Sponge

This might sound a bit strange but sea sponges are actually a great alternative to tampons! They absorb your flow just like a tampon would but without any of the harmful chemicals AND they have enzymes to prevent bad odor and bacterial growth! They’re also reusable and biodegradable!

Inserting sea sponges is kind of like using an applicator-free tampon, the only difference is you wet the sponge to make it a little more flexible before you insert it. To take it out you can either pull it out from inside of you or you can attach a string to make removing it a little easier.

To clean the sponge just use water (some people recommend a mix with tea tree oil) and then store until your next period!

Ratings:

Maintenance: Medium
Mess Factor: High
Eco-Friendliness: High
Safety: Very
Comfort: Very
Leak-Proof: Medium
Holds: 5ml
How often to change: 4-6hours
Price: $$

We recommend: Jade and Pearl, Natural Intimacy, Poseidon Sponge

Have you tried any of these products or perhaps one that didn’t make our list? We’d love to know what you thought!!

 
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