Pros and Cons of Sustainable Period Products

There is a huge range of eco-friendly menstrual products on the market, and most people aren’t even aware of the diversity of them. These products are, however, commonly accompanied by the belief that they are far too expensive to be a viable replacement for standard tampons and pads. Here we set out a list of pros and cons of the various options available, and whether they are really as expensive as people believe.

Natural Disposable Pads and Tampons

These products are a great first step towards a sustainable lifestyle, working exactly the same as normal pads and tampons but without the plastic!

Pros

·       Made from organic unbleached cotton or bamboo fibre

·       Cardboard applicator instead of plastic

·       Just as comfortable as your current product

Cons

·       It is a monthly expense, and is slightly more expensive than mainstream brands

·       Some companies use plastic applicators for more comfort or biobased plastics for waterproofing/wrapping

Menstrual Cup

A good replacement for tampons, which are also worn internally, and are made of silicone, thermoplastic or natural rubber. Click this link to see how to use a menstrual cup.  

Pros

·       There are different shapes and sizes available to suit your body type, with websites like Put A Cup In It using quizzes to help you find yours

·       Zero waste after the initial purchase

·       A suitable and comfy fit for sport and swimming

·       Long lasting (approximately 10 years), making it a lot cheaper in the long run as they range from £15-30

Cons

·       It can take a while to get used to inserting and cleaning

·       It needs to be cleaned every time it is emptied

·       Needs sterilising once a month

 

Washable Menstrual Pads

A great replacement for pads, they are made from organic cotton, polyester fleece, bamboo microfibre or felted wool.

Pros

·       Zero waste

·       Long lasting, and cheaper in the long run (£2-10 per unit)

·       There are completely plastic-free options

·       Different fits and sizes available

Cons

·       If the pads are made from synthetic fibres, they will shed microplastic particles in the laundry

·       They require access to cleaning facilities in order to wash them regularly

 

Reusable Interlabial Pads

Made from the same washable materials as cloth pads, and are “almost like a pad, almost like a tampon”. They are compact tubes, rectangular or oval-shaped material absorbent pads which are placed in between the labial folds and catch the immediate flow. They have an absorbency similar to a regular tampon and have the same practicalities as the reusable period pads mentioned above.

 

Period Pants

Great alternative to regular pads or tampons, especially for teens, dancers, and athletes. Period pants are invisible and super easy to use. Highly absorbent fabric is used in the lining for protection, but they still have the appearance of regular underwear.

Pros

·       Easy to use

·       Great for beginners in the world of eco-friendly periods

·       Helps reduce slippage or chaffing, especially during sport

·       Comfortable and discrete

·       Last around 2-3 years, making them cheaper long term than mainstream period products 

·       Priced at around £12-20 per pair

Cons

·       Expensive to buy a set, and require regular washing

·       Can be hard to change if wearing trousers or tights

·       As with washable menstrual pads, they require access to cleaning facilities

·       They are not plastic-free: most have polyester and/or other plastics in the gusset lining to make them waterproof

 

Reusable Tampon Applicator

DAME is the first and only company to offer a reusable tampon applicator, which replaces the applicators that come with most store-bought tampons. 

Pros

·       Reduces plastic waste

·     Easy to use

Cons

·       The applicator itself is not cheap at £19.99

·       It is much bulkier than normal applicators, and requires washing after use

 

Sea Sponges 

Not entirely reusable, but still more sustainable than disposable tampons, sea sponges can be used for 3-5 cycles. They are used in a similar way to tampons, with the added benefit that they are 100% biodegradable. 

 Pros

·       Allows for multiple uses

·     Make periods plastic free, unless an applicator is used

·       Cost only £9-11 for approximately an 8 months supply

Cons

·       May be harder to source than regular period products

·       Require careful cleaning to ensure they are safe to use

·       Like most reusable menstrual products, it requires preparation and the taking of a ‘wet bag’ for any changing outside of the home

 

After looking at a variety of sustainable menstrual products, it is clear that they are not necessarily more expensive than regular products. In fact, the majority of the time, they are cheaper in the long term. There is a huge range of sustainable menstrual products available in the modern world, now it's just time to find the right one for you!