5 Sustainable Period Products to Give a Little More Love to the Planet

Periods happen a LOT, but what you might not know is that feminine hygiene products contribute tons of plastic waste that end up in landfills. The average woman uses up to 15 thousand pads and tampons in her 40 years of menstruation (National Geographic). Your tampon applicator could out-survive you by hundreds of years, and that’s just not cool. For me, periods were a constant reminder of how easily our society trades modern convenience for long-term environmental health, so I opted for a menstrual cup. Looking to make the switch to a more sustainable period? Read on. 

1. Menstrual cup

Menstrual cups are similar to tampons in that they are inserted to collect blood. Made of medical-grade silicone, cups can be worn for 12 hours at a time and do the work of three to four tampons. They require very little maintenance, only needing to be washed between cycles, and are reusable for up to 10 years. One extra plus is that they don’t leak and come in multiple colors and sizes to fit every woman's body. Brands like Saalt, CoraCup and OrganiCup partner with initiatives ending period poverty, educating women and promoting environmental sustainability. DivaCup and Lunette are also popular. Prices range from $28-$41. 

Via CoraCup

Related: I Tried Using a Menstrual Cup And It Completely Changed My Period Game

2. Period underwear

Thinx is a pioneer in period underwear that can be worn and washed just like any other pair you own. There are multiple styles spanning thongs to boyshorts, four different colors, and options that absorb up to 4 tampons worth of blood. Thinx are reusable for up to two years when cared for properly, according to this Q&A video. The great thing about wearing a pair is that you can completely forget about changing pads, tampons, or cups ever again. Prices range from $24-$38.

Via Thinx

3. Organic cotton products

If for whatever reason you cannot give up pads and tampons, the next best thing you can do is switch to cotton products. Cotton pads and tampons are 100% hypoallergenic, chemical-free, unscented, and often biodegradable, which means less plastic in landfills. In my own personal experience, they are softer and less irritable than their plastic counterparts. Check out LOLA, which has a customizable monthly subscription box option, or Cora and Veeda to purchase per box. Seventh Generation also has a huge array of cotton period products, found here.


4. Multi-use and cardboard tampon applicators or applicator free tampons

Tampons are less good options for sustainability, but you can reduce your impact by cutting down on the plastic waste produced by applicators. Thinx has a $60 reusable tampon applicator and LOLA has flushable cardboard applicators. Of course, the best option is to look for tampons that don’t have applicators in the first place. Most brands that drop the plastic entirely are also made from organic cotton, like those available mentioned above by LOLA, Cora or Veeda

Via Thinx

5. Washable cloth pads

Another way to have your pads and save the environment too is to get pads made of cloth. Just like period underwear, they can be bought in bulk and washed at the end of every period. Like menstrual cups, cloth pads are reusable for up to 10 years. Heartfelt and LunaPads (which also helps fight period poverty!) have lots of colorful options of different absorbances. On the low-end prices are $12 for one or a set of five for $16. You can also DIY your own or shop for them on Etsy.  


Via Heartfelt  

Big brands, like those mentioned in the list above, are marketing for a future with less plastic waste and smaller carbon footprints. Sustainable period products are not only better for the environment but can lessen cramps, shorten cycles, and reduce irritation by cutting down on chemicals (The Wall Street Journal). Every reusable product you switch in for single-use pads or tampons helps nature manage its cycle better, too.