Saving the world one period at a time

Periods aren’t necessarily the first thing we think of when it comes to saving the planet, but on average in 1 year, we dispose of over 45 billion sanitary products, so SURELY there’s something we can do in order to prevent so much plastic waste.

We’ve all faced that dread when you’re in someone else’s house or you’re out and about and there’s NO BIN to dispose of your used sanitary items. How can anyone live without a bathroom bin?!

Well, dread no longer, nowadays there is a variety of reusable sanitary products available on the market, regardless of your cycle needs, there’s something to suit you and your body.

“Reusable?!” I hear you say; “How can sanitary products be reusable?!”

Well there are several types of products that can be worn either internally or externally, that are designed to be washed and reused, as well as products that are simply just made from sustainable and eco-friendly materials.

Many people make the switch to reusable sanitary products because they simply don’t want the expense of tampons and sanitary pads (which are taxed as a luxury item!), whereas for others it’s a choice they make in an effort to be more environmentally friendly.

Menstrual cups

These are exactly what they sound like; small, soft, silicone cups that are worn inside the vagina similar to a tampon, except these collect the menstrual blood instead of absorbing it, and can be emptied, rinsed and re-inserted every 4-8 hours.

Not only do menstrual cups remove the need for tampons and sanitary pads (as they create a seal inside the vagina to prevent leaks AND absorb 3 times more liquid than a tampon), but also, they don’t absorb the vagina’s natural, and important, moisture, whereas a tampon can absorb up to 35%, which doesn’t make for a happy or healthy vagina!

“It’s the best money I’ve ever spent!”

“Oooh it was wonderful! I used it this week and thought it would be really messy but it’s not at all!”

“I really liked it, and even went to bed with no pants on!”

Wherever you are, using a menstrual cup eliminates the need to carry pads and tampons, removes the stress of having to change these in an unfamiliar bathroom and gives you more freedom during your period.

Menstrual sponges

These sponges are either natural sea sponges that grow in the ocean (known as Sea Sponge Tampons) or soft synthetic sponges designed to be worn inside the vagina the same as conventional tampons, but are usually cut to size by the wearer to maximise comfort.

Menstrual sponges are worn inside the vagina to absorb menstrual fluid, they are then removed, rinsed and re-inserted, similar to a menstrual cup, and some are even suitable to be worn during sex in order to minimise mess.

Some people even choose to use spermicide on their menstrual sponges as a method of contraception.

When you use a sea sponge instead of a conventional tampon, you avoid exposure to the chemicals and pesticides used during the growth and production of cotton products. Although, gynaecological experts claim that natural sea sponges can be filled with sand, bacteria and in some cases even mould, so potentially aren’t quite as risk-free as their all-natural reputation suggests.

Synthetic sponges, although a sterile alternative to sea sponges, aren’t rinseable or reusable, and must be thrown away after one use, taking away from the eco-friendliness of the menstrual sponge purpose.

Reusable sanitary pads

For those who like their sanitary products to be worn externally, or if the idea of internal sponges and cups doesn’t float your boat, there’s a vast range of washable and reusable sanitary pads, usually made of cotton or bamboo cloth.

These pads are worn in the underwear usually using press-studs to keep them fixed in place, and once full, can be washed in a normal laundry load, dried and reused. They come in a massive variety of sizes and colours, so you can personalise your period!

As these pads are made from natural materials, they are soft against the body and there’s no uncomfortable clammy feeling, or exposure to chemicals used in the production of conventional sanitary pads, so you’re looking after your vagina and the environment!

“They absorb well, stay in place and not to mention are so much more comfortable than disposable pads!”

“Works brilliantly and has saved me money and landfill!”

Period underwear

Lately, more and more companies have been releasing period underwear.

This underwear features a waterproof layer, and can be worn as a backup for your other menstrual products or even on their own. Some brands can even provide up to two tampons worth of absorbency.

These are a great investment for those who don’t want to have to use any sanitary products, or like to use internally worn sanitary products, but don’t want to have to wear a disposable pad as well in case of leaks.

Period underwear is sometimes also designed to contain odours, this makes them even more viable as a sanitary pad replacement especially, as they do all the things pads are deigned to do.

“The blood was absorbed immediately, so it always felt dry and at the end of the day, I simply rinsed them out and popped them in the machine for a quick spin.”

“They’re ideal for sleeping in, as they’re soft and comfortable and you don’t need to worry about keeping them on for too long.”

Feels like I’m wearing NOTHIN’ AT ALL!

Along with all of these exciting period products, there’s also the option of free bleeding, something a lot of people are turning to, in a bid to wave goodbye to sanitary products altogether.

Free bleeding is just that, not using any products and just letting your period happen un-absorbed and un-stopped. This method isn’t for everyone, as it could potentially leave you in a messy situation or ruin some of your favourite undies, but, it is good for those who want to take back control of their bodies, and say a big NO THANK YOU to society’s expectations of what you should do be doing on your period.

“I prefer it because my cramps aren’t as bad, there’s no awkward feeling of a tampon inside me, and on light days I don’t even see anything in my boxers.”

Just go with the flow!

Whatever your choice for that time of the month, as long as you’ve done your own research and followed any instructions clearly, you’re set. Choosing the sanitary product for you is about deciding what works right for your body, just because it works for Sandra down the road doesn’t mean it will work for you!

If eco-friendly is your game then a menstrual cup or cotton sanitary pads completely eliminate the need for disposable items, whereas if you want to try and avoid sanitary products altogether, discreet period underwear or free bleeding might be more suited to you.

Happy bleeding!

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