Zero Waste Periods
I have done a lot of research, spent a lot of money and accidentally flushed a moon cup down the toilet in vein of searching for the best products and combinations for a more environmentally friendly time of the month. Sanitary pads, the most convenient option for many women can in some cases be made up of about 90% plastic - shockingly, this is the equivalent to four supermarket bags. If you are a woman who has pledged to be more ethical this year, then I recommend undertaking the change, its rewarding to know you are making a choice that is sustainable not just for the planet, but your pocket too. Use this as a handbook for some tried and tested products, but remember, every woman’s period is different. So see what works for you, and go with the - pun intended - flow.
Words by Isabelle Landicho
Switch to menstrual cup
This is possibly the easiest switch one can make, it just requires a bit of practice. I have tried two different brands, the Moon Cup and Ruby Cup. The Moon Cup is arguably the most known brand of menstrual cup, pioneered by two British women in 1999. The Moon Cup have amassed a huge following and has inspired countless other brands since its inception. The Ruby Cup works the same way, being a small silicone sealed funnel like contraption (don’t fear, it’s not as scary as it sounds) inserted into the cervix to collect your blood. But what I like about the Ruby Cup is that for every cup they sell they donate one to a female without access to menstrual care products. This really appealed to me as periods suck, and I can only imagine how difficult it can be for women in need. Either brand is good and both have two sizes, the bigger sizes are for women who have given birth vaginally and over 30 years of age, the smaller is for women below 30 years of age and have not given birth vaginally. Because I have a heavy flow, I opted for the bigger size but you might find its too large, so do further research before purchasing!
Period proof pants
These are no doubt an ingenious invention for the modern woman. I purchased a pair of Thinx last year, and while they do the job there are positive and negative aspects to the product. The pros are that they are comfortable, well designed (there are various pants depending on the intensity of your flow and for different activities) and I like the company and its ethos- not to mention the environmental aspect of the product. However, they are expensive, I bought three pairs for $70 and I have to wash them by hand in order to make them last through my cycle which lasts about a week or so. I found that the pants are not absorbent enough for my flow so I have stained my clothes on occasion. I discovered wearing my Ruby Cup with the pants prevent any leakage, which is especially effective through night time. As I said, it all depends on you and your flow, the only way you’ll find what works for you is to test it yourself. But for my fellow sisters with a heavy flow and a wide set vagina, I wasn’t wowed.
They sound quite unappealing on paper, but personally preferable to expensive period proof pants. They come in a variety of styles, slimmer shorter ones for light days and longer thicker pads for the heavy ones. They are inexpensive in comparison to period pants and you can get more of them for your money. I have a variety from light pads to maxi pads by Imse Vimse (a great Swedish brand who specialise in eco feminine sanitary and baby products) and they are very comfortable. The pads have snap buttons on the wings to ensure they stay in place throughout the day. I wear my Ruby Cup with these pads to in order to prevent any leakages and so far, so good.
Reusable tampons and applicators
These are alternatives I haven’t tried myself so give us a shout if you have. Thinx have released a reusable tampon applicator as an alternative to the conventional plastic applicators that go with some tampons. This is a clever idea, and from the slick demonstration on the website, it seems fairly straightforward. Although the downside to this is that you are still generating waste. There is also the option of the reusable tampon. Again, I haven’t road tested this but from my research it definitely works. They are essentially long cotton rectangles that you roll into a compact cylinder and insert inside of you. They come in a variety of sizes depending on where you are in your cycle -much like traditional tampons- and they also have the string in which you pull it out with. From my research they are easy to use and as absorbent as your traditional tampons but are a pain to wash after use!