*Contains Previously Gifted Product
When I discovered that the majority of sanitary products available on the market contain plastic I was shocked. I mean, I had been using these essential items since the age of 11/12 and never once had I wondered what they were made from, what was added to them or what chemicals they contained. Why would I? We are sold these products on adverts and in magazines, we are told we need them, we are shown a variety of disposable options and told over and over ‘This one is the best!’ What nobody ever told me was that there were other choices. More eco-friendly choices. Options with no waste, no monthly purchase, no chemicals or perfumes and no plastic. I found this all out at the age of 35 and not via the media or family or friends. It was from eco accounts on Instagram. If it could have done, my jaw would have hit the ground. I mean, for starters, how much have I spent in single-use sanitary products in 23 years?
“A study, commissioned by Menstrual cup brand Intimina, found a woman spends £10.24 per month on menstrual products adding up to £4,916 during an average reproductive lifetime – 12 to 52″
Secondly, how come nobody else mentioned this? EVER?! And thirdly, why was this never sold as the option given the fact that these do not harm the environment?
“In 2018 alone, people in the U.S. bought 5.8 billion tampons, and over the course of a lifetime, a single menstruator will use somewhere between 5 and 15 thousand pads and tampons, the vast majority of which will wind up in landfills as plastic waste”
Baffled. To this day I am baffled (although of course, we all know that the true answer is because money makes the greedy world go around). I am so glad to see times changing, I am over the moon that women are sharing these products with other women and I truly hope that one day, these plastic disposable items will be completely banned from the market and reusables are the prime choice.
So, what options are there to have a plastic-free period? Here are the 3 ways which are changing the way many people have their period each month.
A menstrual cup is a cup-like device which is usually made from silicone and designed to fit snugly inside your vagina similarly to a tampon. The main difference being here that the cup can be reused each and every month. There are many varieties on the market and once you begin to research them you will also notice that they are usually available in 2 sizes. The size will be based on your age and whether or not you have had children vaginally. Finding the right size and style is essential for your own comfort, as well as its function, so do take your time to read the advice and reviews. To use the cup, you must ensure that you firstly safely sterilise it (boiled water, bottle sterilisers and sterilising tablets or fluid will all work). From here, you gently fold the cup over on itself and begin to insert it. Once in place, the cup will pop back open and sit against your vaginal walls. It will need to sit lower than a tampon and you may find that this takes several cycles to master but once you find that comfortable fit you will never look back! You can wear a menstrual cup for around 4-8 hours before needing to empty it. To do this all you do is gently pull on the stem, empty the contents into the toilet, rinse or wipe the cup with toilet roll and re-insert. It is safe to wear all day everyday, overnight and for exercise and swimming.
Period pants are knickers with an additional protective layer allowing you to have a period without any other sanitary products. Usually made from a stretchy fabric, these pants are designed to move with you, be extremely absorbent and prevent any leaks. One brand that I use and love is WUKA:
“WUKA is your complete tampon and pad replacement, wear it up to 8 hours on light days, 4-6 hours on your heavy days or all night. The world’s most comfortable, hygienic, luxurious and eco-friendly period underwear”
Most pants are available in a wide variety of sizes as well as absorbency levels according to the type of flow you have. You can change the pants each day and wash in your machine at 40° with no conditioner. Simply line dry and reuse each month. An easy way to have a plastic-free period with very little change to your lifestyle.
Cloth Sanitary Pads
Did you know that a disposable sanitary pad takes anywhere between 500-800 years to decompose? And most of us use them because they seem so convenient. Not very convenient for our planet though, are they? Cloth sanitary pads (CSP) are used in the same way as disposable sanitary pads/towels but are made from soft, absorbent fabrics which can be washed and used over and over again. They are available in funky designs, they use poppers to secure in place instead of a plastic tab, they are usually made from fleece, bamboo or cotton and the absorbent layer is often charcoal or microfibre. And most importantly there are no perfumes or chemicals which could actually be damaging to your vaginal health and are also linked to making your periods heavier! You can change your CSP as often as you need, rinse them out after use with cold water to prevent stains and then pop them in the washing machine on 30° or 40° (depending on the brand). For more details on cloth sanitary pads, I have a blog post dedicated to them here.
By making the change to plastic-free period products you will be saving the earth as well as your wallet each and every month plus you may well discover a far lighter and more comfortable period.
*I was gifted the WUKA period pants for an Instagram post earlier this year. All opinions are honest and my own. For further information please refer to my disclosure page.
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