Thanks to increased environmental awareness and the zero waste movement, there has never been a better time to make the changes needed to have an eco-friendly period!
Which are the best zero waste menstrual products?
If you are looking to make a serious change to help the planet, go for one of the reusable period options, such as reusable sanitary towels, period-proof underwear or period cups.
But even if you prefer disposables, there are eco-friendly options that are way better for the longer term future of the planet.
Here is a handy guide to some of our favourites:
Bamboo and organic sanitary pads
Sanitary towels have traditionally been the worst offenders in the world of menstrual products, in terms of their environmental impact.1
Not only do the most common brands contain tons of plastic – both in the pad and the wrapper – but they are often impregnated with synthetic smells and what is worse, the whole thing has to be chucked away after each use.
But the good news is that it is becoming much easier to get your hands on sustainable brands.
Another favourite is Flo, which uses bamboo fibre for its pads.
Bamboo is really soft and absorbable and it is more sustainable than cotton, as it does not use as much water and re-grows much faster.2
Similarly to pads, eco-friendly tampons are becoming ever more popular.
If you can learn to go applicator-free, this will prevent even more waste.
Reusable menstrual products
When it comes to eco-friendliness, it is undoubtedly reusable products that reign supreme.
If you are not already using reusables, ask yourself, what is stopping you?
The most common hesitations are around storing used items, washing and sanitising. Plus what to do when you are out and about.
But don’t fear! There are easy solutions to all of these issues.
A great place to find all the answers is on the FAQ pages of the manufacturers’ websites, but we will also try to answer some of them here so you can find a product that is right for you.
Those who love them rave about how comfortable they are, as well as how easy they are to use.
But, understandably, the idea of inserting a silicone cup in your vagina in just the right place to keep you feeling secure all day can be a little daunting.
Yes, they can take a bit of practice, but there are tons of online guides and tutorials to help.
In a nutshell, you simply squeeze the cup, place it inside your vagina, a little lower than a tampon would sit, and the natural suction the cup creates should hold it in place.
When it is time to empty it, you simply ease it out, flush the contents, wipe or rinse and replace.
The benefits include that they can stay in place for up to 12 hours, including during sports and overnight.
If looked after, the cups could last a decade or more! Plus they can hold far more fluid than a tampon.
Period-proof underwear has come a long way in recent years – it is a wonder it didn’t come along sooner!
In most ways they are just like normal panties, except with a super-absorbent layer between your legs that should keep you feeling fresh and dry for up to 12 hours.3
Simply rinse with running water after use and machine wash as soon as possible.
We love the brand Flux, whose underwear comes in five sizes and has a pretty lace trim.
Reusable sanitary pads
Reusable pads are similar to period-proof underwear in that you simply rinse and machine wash after use.
They work just like regular sanitary towels in that they come in lots of different sizes and absorbencies, from panty liners to night flow.
And since they do not have an adhesive strip, unlike disposable pads, they all have wings, held together with a popper.
If you are out and about and need to change your pad, it is a good idea to keep a bag with you for the soiled one.
Many of the companies making reusable pads, like Bloom & Nora, also provide a waterproof, washable bag to keep soiled pads in until you can wash them.4 Want to learn more about having a zero waste period? Check out our article ‘How to have a zero waste period.’
Last updated: 23 March 2021