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Your Guide to Sustainable Period Products

Periods. They’re no fun. I’m not a fan of them, and Earth isn’t either. The plastic used in pads and tampons will stay on the planet for 500 years to come, ending up in landfills. Period products like tampons and pads contribute to 200,000 tonnes of waste each year. There is no question about the harm that products like pads and tampons pose to the environment, but the truth is that they can be just as harmful to ourselves.

Tampons and pads are often produced with harmful chemicals, and the truth is that very few companies use organic cotton in their products. This means that some tampons and pads contain harmful chemicals called dioxins and furans, both of which have been linked to cancer. Get this-- some pads and tampons aren’t even made with cotton, and instead made synthetic polymers, and are often bleached. All of these lead to many unbalances and can disrupt vaginal health. As if periods didn’t already suck. 

The cons of pads and tampons do not end there. The “tampon tax" is charged on these disposable feminine products for not being considered a necessity. If you’ve ever had a period, you know how absurd this is. The tampon tax makes these products even more expensive, and over time the money spent can add up. While sustainable products seem expensive, a one-time purchase of 40$ does not compare to monthly purchases of $7-8. 

As we continue to learn more about sustainability, and how to help both the planet and ourselves, we continue to discover more and more ways to be environmentally friendly in our daily lives. Your wallet will thank you, and so will the Earth. One person produces 62,415 pounds of waste in period products alone during their lifetime, so imagine how much waste you are eliminating by simply switching to a sustainable product. Don’t know where to start? I got you.

The Menstrual Cup

When we think of sustainable periods, this is often what comes to mind. Menstrual cups are great. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and only need to be emptied approximately every 12 hours. The best part about them is that they are often made with medical-grade silicone, so there is not an associated risk of TSS like there is with tampons. There are so many menstrual cups out there, but a few awesome ones are the Diva cup, the Lily cup (I use this one and I LOVE IT), and the OrganiCup

Reusable Pads

Reusable pads are great because they are made with breathable cotton, and are far more absorbent than your typical disposable pad. They are also easy to use and clean. They can simply be thrown in the wash with the rest of your clothes, or by hand. Some brands to check out include Rael and GladRags.

Period Panties

The thought of periods meaning "no added something to collect blood" seems scary, but I actually find these to be pretty cool because it's one less step to worry about. They come in a variety of styles for different flow levels, and can actually hold up to as much blood as three to four tampons could! Find period panties at Cora, Knix, or Thinx.

Reusable Tampon Applicator

For one reason or another, sometimes it is just impossible to part from disposable pads or tampons and that's okay because there is no judgment here. If this is the case, I have the solution for you: a reusable tampon applicator. By purchasing applicator-free tampons, you have already cut down on so much waste, and this one is made with only safe ingredients. If you find that this is the option that speaks to you, be sure to use biodegradable, 100% cotton tampons for your health and for the planet’s. Cora’s are amazing. If you prefer pads, be sure to check out Natracare.

Figuring It All Out

Making the switch to sustainable period products is not easy, and the research can be overwhelming. Here is a summary of the brands mentioned to make it a bit easier.


Diva Cup



Lily Cup





By switching to sustainable period products, you are helping your wallet, your health, and the planet. Pads and tampons are full of harmful ingredients, can be expensive, and contribute to so much waste. One simple change can lead to so much, and it is a decision that will make your periods a little easier. 

Noelia Salazar

CU Boulder '23

Noelia is the Director of Social Branding at Her Campus CU Boulder. She is majoring in international affairs with minors in journalism and communications. She loves books, makeup, and coffee. In her free time, she's probably rewatching Gilmore Girls.
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