Let’s talk about periods!
Sustainable swaps to make your life easier and decrease waste.
How often do you think about how much waste is made when you're on your period? If you use traditional pads and tampons, it's quite a bit. In their lifetime, tampon users will use and dispose of, on average, 11,000 tampons. Each year, around 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons end up in landfills. Not to mention the tampons that are flushed and go through the water system. So what are the alternatives? Well, my fellow period-havers, there are so many more sustainable options out there. Here are just a few.
1. Menstrual Cup
I switched from tampons to a menstrual cup about two years ago and, let me tell you, it changed my life! They are small cups made out of medical grade silicone that are made for 10 to 12 hours of wear. Obviously, it depends on each individual's body and flow for how long they can be used. All you do is insert the cup into the vagina and give it a little twist to made sure it's suctioned properly. When it's time to dump it, you can remove it while over the toilet or in the shower, dump it, wash it, and re-insert it. They make specific menstrual cup washes you can buy or you can use unscented antibacterial hand soap to clean it between uses. It is also recommended that you boil it in a pot of water before and after each month's cycle to sanitize. Menstrual cups come in a lot of different sizes and shapes, so chances are there will be one that fits you perfectly. They cost around $30 on average, but considering they last 10 years, it's worth the money in the long run.
2. Reusable Pads
If you're a pad wearer and think there aren't any sustainable options out there for you, think again! So many companies are now making washable pads that you can either hand wash or throw in the washing machine between uses. Etsy is overflowing with these washable/reusable pads and there is, quite literally, something for everyone. Do you prefer pads with wings? They got 'em! Without wings? They got that too! Overnight pads, panty liners? Got 'em and got 'em! I've tried a few varieties of these just out of curiosity and I will admit they take some getting used to. I'm not a fan of pads in the first place, but they definitely have a different feel to them and, depending on the type and brand, are a bit more bulky. It might take some time to find which ones you like the most and which ones you want to stay away from, but in the long run it will be so beneficial for you and the planet. Since they're made of fabric, knowing when it's time to replace them is pretty much at your discretion. Depending on the quality, it could be every year or two or it could be 5 years.
3. Organic Cotton Tampons and Pads
Did you know that non-organic pads and tampons take 500-800 years to decompose? Did you know that organic pads and tampons only take around six months to decompose? Now, I know there are people out there who can't use reusable period products for one reason or another and need a better option than the Always and Tampax of the world. Traditional pads and tampons are laden with chemicals that not only harm the environment, but harm your body as well. There have been so many stories and reports of people switching from non-organic to organic and experiencing less cramps, a lighter flow, and less body aches during their periods. While they are a few dollars more than non-organic options, they are far more sustainable and healthier for you.
When talking about sustainability, period products are rarely the first topic on the table. However, it is one of the easiest swaps you can make to help the environment and yourself; producing less waste, in some cases spending way less money, and ultimately having less chemicals in your body. These small changes may not seem like much, but they have the ability to add up and create real change.