According to the Women’s Environment Network, one of the biggest problems preventing women from finding healthier, cheaper and more sustainable menstrual products is – incredibly in 2019 – a still pervasive taboo that stops us discussing the issue.
Whilst menstrual cups have become increasingly popular recently, the fact remains that this option will not be for everyone, and this shouldn’t put you off exploring the many other sustainable options out there. Usually a combination of different products works best for different times during your cycle. It’s a process which can take some time to figure out – and that’s completely ok!
Below is a roundup of our favourite low-waste menstrual products along with tips for how to have a slightly less icky-feeling period. Don’t be afraid to try out different combinations until you find out what works for you, and most importantly, don’t be afraid to talk about it.
1. Menstrual Cup
In our view, a menstrual cup is one of the best sustainable period products out there. Our favourite by Organicup is made with medical-grade silicone and will last for years, slashing your waste and saving so much money long-term. For many women, it can take a while to get comfortable with using it, but once it’s inserted, quite often you won’t feel or even think about it all day. With all of these benefits for you and the planet, we think it’s worth giving it a go.
Tip: Pick up some biodegradable organic wipes to make using a menstrual cup in public bathrooms a doddle.
2. Reusable Organic Cotton Pads
Women were happily using reusable cloth pads for centuries until certain companies began touting the idea that throwaway products were more “sanitary.” Whilst periods are many things – painful, emotional, hugely inconvenient – they’re the most natural thing in the world. Conversely, throwaway sanitary towels are often made using plastic that won’t biodegrade and nasty chemicals to make them smell nicer.
Orethic make some of the most beautifully crafted reusable pads we’ve found using painstakingly sourced organic cotton with no additions. It’s a different experience to using throwaway pads – and yes, they do stain eventually – but not one you can’t get used to surprisingly quickly. A big bonus? No more deafening plastic rustling in public bathrooms.
Tip: To prevent staining, rinse the pads out as soon as possible using cold water (you can even leave a premixed solution of water with a drop of washing liquid in your bathroom). They can then be thrown in the machine with your regular laundry. Easy!
3. OrganiWash and OrganiWipes
No matter how natural your period is it can still all feel a bit… icky. If you want to be extra certain nothing nasty is going anywhere near down there, we love this wash and set of wipes from Organicup. Made from 20% organic and 59% natural ingredients, the formula is vegan, allergy-certified and perfume-free with a carefully balanced pH value of 3.5. Designed to help you clean out your menstrual cup at home or on the go, it can also be used as an intimate wash to help you feel fresh.
4. Period Proof Underwear
According to polls, most women’s top concern with their period is peace of mind from leakage. One of the most secure-feeling products out there is period-proof underwear, and the most popular brand around, and with good reason, is Thinx. Their offering includes a huge range of pretty, feminine styles and not just granny pants – hurrah! We’re a little dubious about the thongs, but their best-selling hip huggers can hold up to two tampons worth of blood, and with a 60-day satisfaction guarantee, it’s well worth giving them a go.
Tip: Combine with your other products like a cup or a tampon for days when you want to feel super secure.
5. Biodegradable Tampons
Do you want a more environmentally friendly period but you like what you like and you ain’t gonna change? Maybe try switching to biodegradable tampons like these ones from Natracare. Unlike many traditional tampons, these are made from 100% organic cotton and are completely free from chlorine, rayon, plastics and dyes. Even the smooth cardboard applicator is biodegradable and compostable (but you still should never flush applicators!)
Tip: Combine with a thin liner like this one from Orethic if you have a heavy flow, because we all need a safety net.
6. Biodegradable Disposable Pads
Similarly, if you just can’t get behind the idea of reusing menstrual pads why not try out biodegradable, organic cotton disposable ones? They look the same as the pads you’re used to, but they’re much kinder on both your skin and the environment. The 100% organic cotton topcoat and core is plastic-free and so much more breathable, but everything from the natural adhesive for keeping the wings secure to the plant-based waterproof backing is biodegradable.
Tip: Even if you’re experimenting with reusable products like a cup, try keeping some of these in store as a sustainable backup while you get used to it. It’s a personal process and it’s fine if it takes you some time.