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Outside The Tampon Box: The Best Products for A Zero Waste Period
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Calling all humans with uteruses! Are you in your reproductive years? Did you know that in your lifetime, you will use an average of 11,000 period disposables? Isn’t that number just crazy? Especially when you think that means billions of plastic tampon applicators are discarded each year. These end up in landfill, taking up to 200 years to decompose!

Fortunately, there’s a way our choices can make our periods more environmentally friendly. Here at our all-female headquarters, we know periods can be unpredictable. They vary from person to person. They differ depending on age, diet, stress levels, and a whole other range of variables. So which product to choose from? We’ve been testing and trying things out. And we’ve come up with an ultimate selection of our favourite eco-options for reducing our period’s carbon footprint. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel…

Menstrual Cup

Back in 2002, Brighton-based business Mooncup turned the market’s tide on its head. They launched the first-ever healthcare-grade, reusable silicone menstrual cup in the world, and our life was never the same again. It fits exactly where you’d put a tampon, but collects the blood instead of absorbing it. When you’re ready to empty it, throw the blood in the toilet, or water it down to fertilise your plants. Et voilà! Planet and wallet are both happy. A cup costs on average £30, and can last up to ten years. Let’s say you use 4 cups in your lifetime. You alone would spare the world 300 pounds of waste!

We believe the menstrual cup would be everyone’s first port-of-call if it weren’t challenging to sanitize at times. Especially when you’re out and about all day long and need to use public restrooms. However, it passed its first scientific review by The Lancet with flying colours. The Mooncup comes in two sizes, one small and one medium (for over 30s and childbearing women.) If you find it uncomfortable, you have about 200 other brands to explore!

Pros
If it fits well, you’ll forget you’re wearing it!
Most eco-friendly option
Collects blood that can then be used to fertilize plants.
Super handy to carry

Cons
Can be difficult to insert
Challenging to sanitize when not worn at home
Needs extra attention to avoid spillages!
Might develop an odour after many years of use

Another favourite brand of ours is The Diva Cup, which offers 3 sizes (18 years old/first period – under 30 and over 30/mother.)

Reusable Tampon Applicator

Reusable tampon applicators are great. They’re identical to the applicators we’ve all grown used to, so that’s the comfort factor right there. But in theory, they’re infinitely reusable. So they won’t end up lying on our beaches until our great-granddaughters grow up. Or end up in some marine creatures’ digestive tract. Just pop your organic tampon of choice in, rinse after use, and put back in your pocket or pouch/bag. It’s really that easy!

Our personal favourite is the applicator devised by DAME. It’s made with a natural antimicrobial agent, which helps to keep it hygienic. We love DAME because they are climate positive period brand, and also offer an organic tampon subscription tailored to different needs. Check their super handy tampon calculator for a quick count of disposables you use on your period.

Pros:
Easy-to-use
Portable (fits in your pocket or bag)
Easy to clean

Cons:
Easy to loose!
Made of plastic-based material

Other brands we like: Thinkx reusable applicator is quite pricey, but worth the investment.

Menstrual Underwear

If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t mind feeling the free-flow of your period, then menstrual underwear might be your cup of tea. But don’t be mistaken: the only “free” here is what you’ll be feeling because wearing Madame l’Ovary underwear is as safe as houses. Designed by a circus artist, it comes in three models: Shortie, Bikini and Nightie. The former two are daytime wear, the latter great for night-time. And those particularly heavy days most of us have sometimes.

Madame l’Ovary comes with three insertable pads that can be changed during the day and placed in their waterproof pouch. Just rinse with cold water before putting in the washing machine and you’re good to go!
Price: Between £29 and £40.

Pros:
Leak-resistant
Super-absorbant
No odour
Fashionable fabric and models
Don’t wear out for a long time

Cons:
If you want to stock up, they require a considerable initial investment.

Our favourite alternatives: Modibodi’s vegan collection and Thinkx (which are super comfy and have a slick design; however, in our experience, they are not made to endure many washes.)

Washable Sanitary Pads

Washable sanitary pads are a great eco-friendly option to their traditional counterparts. They offer the same protection as traditional pads but reduce the waste. And they don’t contain any chemicals that might irritate your skin. Our personal faves are from Earthwisegirls. They come in four models which vary in shape, size and fabric depending on needs. Teen and Petite are for newcomers and light flows. Regular have some fantastic prints and Heavy/Night

For medium to heavy periods, you would need a minimum of six to eight of these sanitary pads. So they’re not ideal if you’re not up for washing out blood every day. The brand suggests some women prefer to buy many extra and wash everything in the end. It would require a higher initial investment, but it might appeal to some! Price average £5/piece.

Pros
Eco-friendly
Jazzy Prints
Comfortable and absorbent

Cons
Not completely leakage-free so not ideal for avid sportswomen
The initial investment can be quite high
Requires increased use of washing machine

Other great brands are: Lunapads and Lilypads, who have pledged to end period poverty in Kenya and are doing great community work.

The new wave of eco-awareness hasn’t spared the personal hygiene sector. The eco-revolution of green alternatives to plastic-based period products is everywhere on the internet. Unfortunately, only three of nine of the major UK supermarket brands store plastic-free period brands. We hope eco-period products will soon be the norm everywhere!

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04 / 03 / 2020 // Written by Sylvia Helen Goodrick
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