A few years ago no one talked about periods much. Adverts for sanitary products showed Lycra-clad women roller-skating past fountains in parks, or a boffin pouring blue liquid onto two competing brands of pads. We hurried into shops, discreetly stuffed our purchases into our baskets and hurried out again. We didn’t discuss periods much and most of us didn’t think there was an alternative to what was on offer at Boots.
Fast forward to 2018 and periods are becoming part of everyday chat. The cups, the period pants, the reusable pads – we know what these items are now, even if we haven’t tried them (yet)!
Partly this is because we’re all a bit fed-up of periods being taboo, and partly it’s because of the plastic issue. In the UK alone 1.5 billion sanitary items are flushed away every year. (Whatever you do, please dispose of any waste in a bin; don’t flush them!) They will take hundreds of years to break down.
So here are some easy ways to eco-up your period, without losing any of that all-important protection.
There’s been a huge increase in the sales of reusable sanitary pads.
What are they? In a nutshell, they’re cotton and/or wool and/or fleece pads that are just as absorbent as the throwaway kind, yet they’re washable and reusable.
“I actually am completely shocked that Day 1 flow was stopped in its tracks, before my pants! Amazing! Soft to the feel and ridiculously absorbent. I’ll be shouting Bloom & Nora from the rooftops! Had I realised that reusable pads would be THIS good I would have swapped years ago. Feel a bit foolish for not swapping sooner.”Little Green Ways blogger Naomi S
I was visiting a university about 10 years ago for a meeting, and in the toilets someone had put a promotional sticker on the door, advertising the Mooncup menstrual cup. Someone else had scrawled beside it “Ew, gross! No thanks!” Although that wasn’t exactly my point of view I did have to admit I found the idea of them weird and a bit scary. A silicone cup that could easily leak, or even slip out? How could that compare with expandable cotton? Until very recently, most women felt the same – but the tide is turning. Take OrganiCup, for example, a menstrual cup that holds up to 3 tampons’ worth and can be worn for up to 12 hours. Here’s a glowing recommendation…
“The cups are great and so easy to use. You can go swimming, or have a bath, without any problems. I only wish I’d started using them years earlier; I’d have saved myself a lot of money and saved all that waste going to landfill.”OrganiCup user, Perthshire
Made of 100% soft medical-grade silicone that “doesn’t mess with your body”, it’s designed to last for years, not months, so it’s a super-eco option.
Have you heard of period pants? No, I don’t mean the grey, faded pants that you save for your time of the month because you’re worried your tampon or towel will leak. I mean pants that actually absorb menstrual blood. Yes, really! Brands such as Thinx and Modibodi offer pants that hold up to two tampons’ worth – that’s got to be handy, right?
THINX says, “Depending on your flow (light, medium, heavy), THINX can replace pads, tampons, liners, and cups, or be worn with tampons and cups for extra protection.”
“I only have one pair, as they are expensive, so it makes it a little harder to phase out other products, but it has certainly reduced the amount [of sanitary products] that I use. They definitely do work – they are comfortable, easy to care for, and surprisingly absorbent given how thin they are. They do need a back-up if your flow is very heavy, but even then, wearing them as a safeguard is also brilliant for making sure you don’t get caught short if you’re having a particularly rough period.”Lisa S, Glasgow
Modibodi even do period-proof swimwear and leak-proof breastfeeding tops – so all your needs are covered!
Organic cotton tampons and towels
If you’re not quite ready to try out reusable pads, period pants or cups, could we recommend that you try eco-friendly (and body-friendly!) towels and tampons in the meantime?
So there you have it – a quick dip into the many options out there for eco periods. Let us know if you try any of these ideas, or any of your own!
* PS. We haven’t received anything from any of the above companies for suggesting their products, and all we’re doing is highlighting some of what’s out there, not recommending any particular product. Thanks!