Ask any woman and they’ll tell you the same: periods aren’t fun. We bleed for roughly five days. Feel bloated, crampy, emotional and crave all the things. Periods are a lot of work, but they can also be a lot of money, and have a big environmental impact.
Sure, period products aren’t the lead cause of the severe climate issues our world is going through, but considering how many products one woman uses in one month, multiplied by a year, multiplied by every woman that purchases and uses products, that’s a whole lot of excess!
“Conventional pads and tampons are usually made from a combination of plastic, rayon, bleach, and other chemicals. They pile up in landfills or sewers after women unthinkingly throw them away; each year, 20 billion disposable menstrual products end up in North American landfills alone. That's 20 billion. If I have 396 periods in my lifetime, I'll be responsible for approximately 11,880 disposables.” (Tampons. Do You Even Need Them?).
The process used to manufacture pads and tampons is also not to be desired. “According to the Sierra Club, the cultivation of the cotton used in tampons and pads contributes to the 55 million pounds of pesticide sprayed annually on U.S. crops, which can pollute waterways; and according to Mother Jones, plastic tampon applicators often end up as waste in bodies of water like oceans and lakes, where animals can choke on them, and they can take decades to biodegrade.” (6 Ways to be Environmentally Conscious During Your Period).
What’s a woman to do?!
I know it can seem overwhelming. Periods, by themselves, are enough to give us anxiety, but instead of getting overwhelmed, I suggest focusing on tiny, little changes. Let’s visualize period products like we do plastic cups, or straws. Let’s start small.
If you’re into tampons…
Try LOLA! LOLA is a subscription-based service, delivering tampons right to your door! The company is committed to offering 100% hypoallergenic, cotton tampons, that contain no additives, chemicals or dyes. Guess what?! They’re biodegradable, too! On their website, you get the ability to customize, so you can choose the options that work best for you, and change/modify at any time!
If You’re Into Pads…
LOLA has single-use pads that are made with the same 100% hypoallergenic cotton! However, if you’re into something reusable, there are a lot of great options out there, as well!
Lunapads is a company that produces adorable reusable pads, pantyliners, panties and menstrual cups, for every day of your period. They even provide a fun “Matchmaker Quiz” to help determine which product would be most-helpful. Their reusable pads and panties are washer & dryer safe. The company does recommend using natural laundry products, when possible, to protect the environment; regular detergents can often contain hidden bleach or fabric softeners that can affect the performance of your Lunapads (and cause hormonal issues, as well).
If You’re into menstrual cups…
Menstrual cups can be scary, at first. A reusable cup, inserted into your lady business, might sound like the worst thing ever, but I’ve really enjoyed having mine! Not only is it reusable, so I’ve eliminated monthly period-product purchases, but I also feel more in-tune with my flow now, since I’m able to check the blood, every time I clean the cup out.
Currently, I use a Lena Cup, which has been the most-comfortable for me. I used a Diva Cup first, and felt the cup, itself, was too long for my body. Trust me: you shouldn’t be able to feel it, once it’s inserted, correctly! Here is a helpful quiz, if you’re looking for a good-for-you cup.
I take my cup out every six (or so) hours, during my period. Empty the blood (after inspecting), and wash with hot water. Once my period is done, and I’ve taken the cup out, I’ll boil it in hot water, and soak it in rubbing alcohol. There are cup cleaners out there, but I prefer not to use them, and mess up the bacteria in my hoo-ha!
If you’re into period underwear…
Aside from menstrual cups, period underwear is the best menstrual-invention of our time! Ladies, I know we all can relate: monthly concerns about leaking, while sleeping. Waking up to feelings of having wet yourself, realizing you’ve got blood-stained sheets. It’s a [literal] mess. I purchased my first pair of period underwear more than a year ago, and am happy to report that I still have them; they’re that good! I purchased a pair from THINX, after taking their “Know Your Flow” quiz. My pair is a little thicker, since I use them for night-time protection, but very comfortable! They’re so absorbant that I could wear them multiple nights, and will admit, I have.
I wash them, on cold, with natural detergent, and hang to dry.
Please know that there are numerous other period product brands out there; I just shared about some of my, personal favorites. A simple Google search will provide you with many options. Aside from the world wide web, consider checking out your local, sustainable goods stores (if there are any). Minneapolis has an excellent shop called Tare Market, and Des Moines just opened a shop called The Collective.
It’s difficult for most of us (living in the United States) to think about never having access to period products, but many girls and women around the world don’t have access to menstrual products, or education. Please consider doing your research about organizations that are out there, making waves and assisting those women who are not as fortunate. Here are just a few: Days for Girls, Dignity Period, Period.
The exciting thing is that more people are making waves! Not only are businesses being formed to provide sustainable products to consumers, but the public is starting to shut down the continued purchase of products that harm and pollute our environment. Remember, it’s all about the small changes. One menstrual cup purchase equals hundreds of un-purchased tampons. One blog post… one conversation. It all starts with just one!