In their lifetime, most people with periods will use around 12,000 single use disposable period products.
In Australia alone we approximately send 18,000 metric tonnes of sanitary waste to landfill each year.
This year, I made the switch to cut out menstrual product waste and it was honestly one of the easiest things I’ve ever done and is already saving me money.
So, here are seven easy ways to reduce waste during your period!
- Menstrual cups.
I’m a tampon kinda gal, always have been so this was an easy pick for me. Menstrual cups usually come in two sizes, and generally if you haven’t given birth you’ll use the smaller size, and if you have the larger is for you. They’re super easy to use, just fold it up and insert like you would a tampon. You can use your tulip cup for up to 12 hours before emptying (longer than a tampon but you aren’t immune to Toxic Shock Syndrome using a cup) and can use the same cup for at least two years (dependent on the brand and how well you look after it). Menstrual cups are easy to sanitise, just pop them in the microwave in a container with boiling water before and after each period. Personally, I use the Tulip Cup which retails for $44.99, comes in different colours and is often on sale. If you are buying a menstrual cup, make sure to check that it is made from medical grade silicone.
- Period undies.
As I mentioned before, I’m a tampon person. I’ve never liked pads and have always found them uncomfortable and unreliable. However, period undies are a whole different story. They feel like just regular underwear, even as you go about your day and bleed into them. They are super absorbent so you don’t ever feel like you’re sitting in blood (which was always an issue I had with pads) and can last up to two years (depending on how you look after them)!! To clean them you just rinse them (pro tip: take them off in the shower and rinse them there to save water) and pop them in a dedicates bag and into the washing machine with your other clothes. I use the Modibodi range which go for $20 to $40 a pair (depending on the style), specifically the ‘Sensual Hi-Waist Bikini’ style in heavy/overnight absorbency and the ‘Classic Bikini’ style in light-moderate absorbency. The light-moderate are perfect for a lighter flow, the days when your’e expecting to start your period or aren’t sure if it’s really over (we’ve all been too trusting at one time or another). I would highly recommend these for everyone, but especially younger girls as they remove the worry of having to change a period product.
- Cloth pads.
Just as a disclaimer, I’ve never used one of these (due to my aforementioned feelings about pads), but they’re a great option if you’re a pad person! They sit in your underwear the same as a traditional pad, but use snaps to stay in place rather than wings that stick. They can be reused for 2 to 3 years which makes them amazingly cost effective compared to regular pads. To clean you rinse in cold water, lather in detergent, soak overnight, wash and let dry. Hannahpad are an Australian company that make certified organic cotton pads, covering all the sizes you could ever use, ranging from $10.95 to $38.50. They also offer tester pads and a student discount for primary, secondary, tertiary and TAFE students!
- Certified organic cotton pads and tampons.
While reusable products are a more environmentally responsible choice, certified organic menstrual products don’t use all of the chemicals used in traditional products, so they are a step in the right direction. It’s your vagina and its important that you feel comfortable in the products you use so absolutely no shame in wanting to use a product that’s more familiar. By using certified organic product you are supporting a product that not only doesn’t put chemicals into your body (as your vagina is incredibly absorbent, don’t stress though regular tampons are still perfectly safe) but also isn’t putting chemicals into the environment. There are few things to keep in mind when considering these products, they will be more expensive than traditional products, they are no safer than regular menstrual products when it comes to Toxic Shock Syndrome and even though the product will more often than not be biodegradable always dispose of it into land fill.
I don’t know about you but I consume an awful lot of tea on my period. So to reduce the amount of single-use takeaway cups going into landfill, carry your own. I really like this one, it’s biodegradable and not huge so it easily fits into my handbag or backpack. It’s also less than $10 which is a huge bonus!
- Tub face masks.
If you suffer from hormonal breakouts around or during your period, chances are you treat yourself to a face mask (or six). But sheet masks in their individual plastic packaging are going straight to landfill. Try a mask that comes in a recyclable tub, personally I really like the range at The Body Shop and Oh Deer Sugar (which is a shop you should definitely visit in Adelaide, South Australia).
- Plastic free treats.
We all have foods that we’re a sucker for on our periods, but once you’ve finished the packaging is rarely recyclable and goes to landfill. So why not try a waste free store? The Source Bulk Foods is one option, you pick out your choices and use brown paper bags to collect them and pay by weight. They have a whole isle of chocolate (vegan and non-vegan options) and treats as well as dried fruits and protein balls (among everything else). Their milk chocolate bullets are my weakness, definitely give them a go!
If you have any other waste-reducing tips for that time of the month leave a comment or tweet me! I’d love to see what you do to cut down on your contribution to landfill!