The Ultimate Guide To A Sustainable Period By Someone Who’s Been Doing It For Two Years

A menstrual pad usually takes longer to decompose than the average woman lives. During their life, a menstruating person uses about 9,120 pads, but there are ways to reduce our environmental impact even when it comes to menstrual devices.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki

The Menstrual Cup

A menstrual cup is a popular option because it’s convenient, economical, and eco-friendly for many menstruating people. In good condition, it can last for years—some users report using theirs for more than a decade! It’s also economically advantageous: some estimate they save 40 to 80 dollars per year thanks to their cup! It has a larger capacity than regular pads, so you won’t have to change it as often. The cups come in different sizes and materials, and many brands are available; once you find one that fits you perfectly, you will hardly notice it is there.

Photo by cottonbro

Period Panties

Period panties are just like regular panties, except they can absorb the flow. They come in different sizes, models, and levels of absorbency. Not wearing something bulky during menstruation and staying completely dry for at least 4-5 hours seems like a dream, but it’s a reality! 

Choosing the right ones comes down to two things: your flow and what absorbency level you need. The greater the absorbency level, the more tampons worth of fluid protection you get. For example, I use super-absorbent ones, equating to four tampons worth of protection.

On days of abundant flow, I usually change mine after 6-7 hours when I feel them getting damp. You can wash them in the washing machine with your other clothes, though it’s best not to use the dryer and let them air-dry instead.

“How many pairs do you need for one cycle?” Well, it depends! f you have an average flow and only want to wear pads, five would be a good number to start with. They should last about five or six years with proper care.

Photo by Greta Hoffman

Reusable Pads 

Reusable pads are made of cloth, so you don’t have to worry about throwing away a bunch of plastic every month. They’re usually made from organic cotton or bamboo and work just like regular pads; only they’re washable.

When we’re away from home, we can store our used sanitary pads in a waterproof bag until our return. We rinse them with cold water, immerse them in water and let them soak for a few hours. Then we add them to the rest of the laundry in the washing machine as you would any other garment.

After washing, make sure to stretch it well and avoid folding it. Let it air dry outdoors in the sun or on a drying rack. Even reusable pads can last five years if kept well, with at least ten pieces available—even with different absorbency levels—to alternate.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

For many menstruating people, the above options are sufficient. However, some have a hard time quitting tampons after years of use, which often leads to the accumulation of plastic waste. In response, some menstrual companies have developed chlorine-free, organic, biodegradable options that use little-to-no plastic.

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