Plastic Free Period
Did you know that the average menstruator spends roughly 3000 days bleeding?
Have you ever stopped to think about how much waste you produce each month during your menstrual cycle? You are looking at around 12000 pads/tampons per person. Most of which contains plastic, not only in their packaging but also in the product itself. That is roughly 120kg of bloody waste sitting in our landfills or floating in our oceans.
But, plastic waste isn't the only concern with Disposable sanitary items. We are also putting synthetic materials directly onto or inside our Vagina. In Australia, companies are not required to tell consumers what their pads and tampons are made from due to their classification as a medical device so there really isn't a way to know what we are putting in our bodies.
For a more in depth look at how Tampons and Pads became so unsustainable check out this article from National Geographic.
So, what are the alternatives?
Reusable Cloth Pads
Cloth Pads work the same as disposable pads however with the added advantage of being washable. They can be reused over and over again which makes them a great cost saving menstrual product along with being much better for the environment.
They have multiple layers of absorbent material to help absorb any fluid and reduce odours and don't contain any harsh chemicals or plastics like disposables. Reusable cloth pads are great for people who don't like to insert anything into their vagina or for those who want a back up when using a menstrual cup.
On my heavier days I choose a reusable liner as a back up for my menstrual cup which gives me piece of mind in case of leaks. I find them much more comfortable than disposables. After birthing my second baby I required a couple of stitches for a small tear. I used disposable pads for the first couple of days postpartum but quickly found that they caused my labia to become irritated and impacted on the healing of my tear. I immediately switched to my Cloth pads which resolved the irritation very quickly and I had no further issues.
You can check out our range of beautiful handmade Cloth Pads here
A reusable flexible silicone cup that is designed to be inserted into your vagina to collect blood. This is my personal preference when Aunt Flo makes her appearance but it did take a little getting used to. Learning to correctly insert it can be a little fiddly when you first try, but I promise it does get easier and you won't regret making the switch. I recommend watching a youtube tutorial or similar to get an idea of how to insert your cup.
The are many benefits to using a menstrual cup.
- They can hold a lot, depending on your flow they can last up to 12hrs before needing to be emptied with no risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome.
- You can wear them while swimming
- They can be reused for many year
There are a couple of things to consider when choosing the right menstrual cup as they come in a few different shapes and sizes. Check the individual brands for advice on how to find your right size. In general a smaller size is recommend for women under 30 who have not given birth vaginally and a large size for women over 30 and/or who have given birth vaginally.
When it comes time to empty your cup you use your index finger and thumb to squeeze the base of the cup which will break the seal and then you can gently pull it out and empty into the toilet or shower. If you have no sink nearby to rinse, it can be wiped out with toilet paper and reinserted.
After your period has ended you can boil your cup in water and store away for next time.
There are a few brands of period underwear on the market these days and many women prefer this option as it is convenient and discreet. Period Underwear look the same as regular underwear but have built in absorbent layers and moisture wicking technology to keep you feeling dry and fresh.
The initial cost is a little more expensive than regular underwear or disposable sanitary items however as they are reusable they quickly become a much more cost effective option.
Simply put, you menstruate without the aid of sanitary products such as pads or tampons. This can be somewhat of a controversial topic for those who choose this method, but for many this is the only option when they are experiencing poverty and third world living conditions .
The idea that a person should not feel ashamed of the normal and healthy process of menstruation has been gaining momentum as we shift the stigma that menstruation is dirty or unclean.
Choosing the right sanitary products is a totally individual decision and you must consider what will work best for your personal circumstances.