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Period-Proof Underwear: A Hot Mess? Or A Yes?

Once I started my journey to follow a more sustainable lifestyle, I began by thrifting all of my clothes instead of buying new items, cutting out meat and dairy, and buying from proudly cruelty-free beauty brands. However, one item in my life had not been swapped for a sustainable alternative: tampons. Tampons and other disposable feminine products have a major environmental impact; National Geographic claims that “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.” 

I had watched many YouTube reviews of menstrual cups and period-proof underwear, but I was still hesitant about using either of these eco-friendly options. When the pandemic hit, I decided to cave and invest in a pair or two of period underwear from the popular brand Thinx. To my surprise, period underwear came in many different styles and cuts, and the Thinx products were surprisingly cute and comfortable! 

Thinx and other period underwear brands sell pairs with varying levels of absorbency ranging from light to super based on the heaviness of a menstruator’s flow. Thinx even sells sleek activewear like cycling shorts, so you can still crush a spin class when Aunt Flo visits. 

After I wore period underwear for a week, I understood the hype. Period underwear eliminates the discomfort that tampons can cause or the bulkiness of pads. To properly care for your period underwear, I changed pairs three times a day. After handwashing, simply throw them into the washing machine and air dry! I would recommend purchasing many pairs with varying absorbency levels to accommodate for both lighter and heavier days. I promise they’re actually pleasant to wear and no different from normal underwear. 

Thinx not only revolutionizes period products, but the brand’s focus on inclusivity in their ad campaigns and sustainability convinced me to purchase more pairs. Starting at $20 a pair, period-proof underwear is more of an investment item. However, when you add up the cost of tampons, pads, and panty liners, I think that period underwear, when cared for properly, can be a less expensive option in the long run.

Periods are uncomfortable, embarrassing, and at some times, unbearable. Ditching disposable feminine products for a comfier alternative makes this unavoidable cycle a little less awful. We can’t always control natural cycles like periods, but we can control how our actions, and purchases, impact the planet. 

Stephanie Gerson is a first-year student studying Art History at UC Santa Barbara. She is from Palo Alto, California and she is passionate about sustainability, fashion, fitness, and vegan cooking. In her spare time, Stephanie loves going on bike rides around campus, catching up with friends, or spending hours completing her latest embroidery piece!
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