We can all agree – periods suck! And disposable products like tampons and pads can make the process unbearably uncomfortable.
Up until about a hundred years ago, disposable period products were practically unheard of. Somewhere along the progression of history, we deemed it acceptable to wear plastic itchy pads, and bleached white tampons full of harmful chemicals, neither of which is great for the environment or our bodies.
Luckily, alternative feminine hygiene products are exploding on the market. And better yet, it’s possible to have a Zero Waste Period.
What’s all the fuss about zero waste periods?
A Zero Waste Period is essentially exactly what it sounds like. It’s the ability to go through your period waste free, avoiding the use of disposable products that would otherwise end up in landfill.
Did you know that the average single-use pad contains the equivalent of four plastic shopping bags? And that the average menstruator will use a whopping 11,000 disposable products in their lifetime? That’s a lot of plastic sitting in landfill. Plus, plastic period products are more commonly found on beaches than plastic bags and straws.
While you may not be able to switch to a zero waste period right away, even supplementing some of your disposable products each cycle can help eliminate waste, and may actually benefit your body’s health as well.
Why are zero waste periods difficult for some women?
Just as no two women are the same, no one’s period is the same either. And for some women, a zero waste period may not be a feasible option.
Those with conditions that cause heavy flows such as endometriosis may find that carrying enough reusable products to absorb all the blood is next to impossible. Pelvic floor issues, or complications with childbirth, may prevent the use of menstrual cups.
Even though using reusable products throughout the entire period may not be an option, women may want to consider switching to these products over their light days. Not only will there be an environmental benefit, it may be more cost-effective, and healthier.
7 products to try
If you’re ready to start ditching your traditional pads and tampons, there are plenty of reusable options to get you through at least part of your menstrual cycle. I’ve listed some of my favourite 7 products to try on your next period.
Ruby Love period underwear
You won’t have to sacrifice on style by wearing Ruby Love period underwear. The online shop features a variety of designs that look like regular underwear, complete with a rainbow of color options.
The secret is in the surprisingly thin 5 layers which include organic cotton and a super absorbent odor free layer. Each pair of underwear absorbs the equivalent of 2.5 tampons, and they are machine washable. Try the underwear with a Ruby Love reusable double-sided pad or other menstrual product for an extra layer of protection, or wear them on their own.
GladRags Day Pad reusable pads
Not everyone is ready to abandon the security of pads altogether. GladRags reusable pads are an excellent transition product to get you to the Zero Waste Period. Each Day Pad comes with a holder that snaps around your underwear, along with two inserts that can be added in depending on the level of your flow.
The pads are made to last five years, but GladRags claims some customers have had theirs going on 20 years. Over five years, expect to save yourself a few hundred dollars by switching. Plus, the pads are plastic free, making for a more comfortable (and environmentally friendly) period.
Pixie Cup menstrual cup
For those who are used to wearing tampons, and would rather not clean a cloth reusable product, there is Pixie Cup. Menstrual cups insert into the vagina, and form a leak-proof seal. They can be left in for up to 12 hours, though depending on your flow you may need to empty them more often. The blood can be dumped out into a toilet, before being popped back in.
Pixie Cups come in a range of sizes, allowing for a perfect fit no matter your body type. They are made from body safe materials, and last up to TEN YEARS! That can replace thousands of disposable products. Another reason to love Pixie Cup: They donate cups to women in need around the world.
Hannah reusable pads
Another popular reusable pad is the HannaPAD. They are made with certified organic cotton, free from the pesticides that are found in conventional cotton that are linked to cancer. In addition, Hanna pads are discreet and come in many oh-so-cute patterns.
While a set of pads will set you back a couple hundred dollars, they are worth the investment as they can last up to five years. They’re even machine washable.
Knix period underwear
If you had all but given up wearing a thong on your period, you’ll love the selection of period underwear from Knix! These underwear are meant to provide light absorbency, absorbing 1 teaspoon of blood. They are perfect for the low flow days when you don’t want a bulky pad, but are still afraid of leaks. Alternatively, use them for backup protection.
Venus Cup menstrual cup
While there are many menstrual cups to choose from nowadays, Venus Cup specifically manufactures their products to withstand the heaviest of flows. The cup holds up to 47ml of liquid, 30% more than the average cup.
The medical grade silicone can be worn for up to 12 hours, and lasts up to 10 years. Wear them when a pad may not be the best option, such as when playing sports or swimming. They’re extremely safe, and can be worn even if your flow hasn’t started yet.
Aisle period underwear
Aisle period underwear (formally Lunapads) absorb 2 tampons worth of blood. Add an extra 2 tampons worth if you use their optional booster. Aisle manufactures sizes ranging from XXS to 5X so that everyone can find their size and style. Their body positive marketing does not go amiss either!
With a little preparation, every woman can waste less on their period. Start your transition by using one of these new products on your lightest days.