How to Have a Sustainable Period with Eco Menstrual Products
Having a sustainable period is good for the planet and for your menstrual cycle.
In order to avoid potentially toxic chemicals in your tampons and pads, as well as in our landfills and waterways, it’s important to use eco-friendly menstrual products.
There are no federal laws in the USA requiring menstrual product manufacturers to disclose their ingredients and a lack of research into how feminine hygiene products impact women’s health.
There is no oversight by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure that chemicals used in menstrual pads and tampons are safe for consumers and women’s health.
However, the FDA has come after small women-owned businesses that make cloth menstrual pads for selling unregulated “medical devices”. In order to be FDA compliant, cloth menstrual pad makers must pay thousands of dollars a year and go through an extensive paperwork process.
Conventional pads and tampons sold in every grocery store and drugstore in the feminine hygiene aisles are loaded with plastics, chemicals, fragrances, and toxic ingredients.
Exposure to chlorine, dioxins, pesticides, and acetone in conventional tampons and pads may lead to inflammation, allergy, and irritation.
Unhealthy menstrual products can actually disrupt your hormones and throw off the delicate balance of your vaginal ecology.
Healthy alternatives for a sustainable period include organic tampons and pads, reusable cloth pads, silicone menstrual cups, or washable period underwear.
Chemical and plastic loaded menstrual pads and tampons also end up creating thousands of tons of sanitary waste each month, which will take hundreds of years to break down and decompose.
Organic, natural, and reusable menstrual care products provide sustainable options for creating a more eco-friendly period for personal and planetary health.
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Cloth Menstrual Pads
Cloth menstrual pads are better for the environment because they are reusable and made from natural fibers. In addition to being better for nature, they also reduce irritation that can occur from chemicals and plastics in conventional industrially-made disposable pads and tampons.
Cloth pads feel so much better than disposable plastic-based pads. Made from soft natural fabrics like cotton flannel and bamboo they are easily washable. Etsy is a great place to shop for cloth pads with cute designs and organic material. If you have some basic crafting skills, you can cut and sew some up yourself with your favorite fabric. You can also find cloth menstrual pads for sale online here.
I’ve used many different brands of cloth menstrual pads over the years, and today prefer to make my own with recycled fleece (inner lining) and cute remnants of flannel cotton fabric (outer layers), cut and sewn to size.
Menstrual cups are made out of medical-grade silicone and can be used for up to ten years. They insert into the vagina under the cervix and hold the blood until taken out and rinsed. They are very environmentally friendly since a one-time investment for the product replaces years of disposable menstrual product use.
One considerable challenge with menstrual cups is that they can be tricky to insert, remove, and rinse - particularly in public restrooms when you do not have a sink in your stall. Also, some women do not like using internal menstrual products as they can increase cramping or be uncomfortable.
I have used several different brands of menstrual cups over the years, but find that I am less likely to have cramps when using pads compared to tampons or the cup. However, some women love them and they are a super environmentally friendly option. You can find menstrual cups for sale here and here.
Period panties have really grown in availability over the last few years. They are more of an investment for one pair, but provide the assurance of preventing leaks through clothing. This can be really helpful for a variety of reasons, instead of wearing a pad or tampon, if one is not sure when you will get your period, or as a back-up to a menstrual cup. These are also popular with women postpartum, who are spotting, or who have incontinence. If you have a lighter flow than period panties can replace using a tampon or pad.
Period underwear is washable cloth layered underwear that absorbs your menstrual flow and protects your clothing. Menstrual underwear also has a bit more of an investment to get started in purchasing them, but then you don’t have to purchase disposable products every month for years, and it creates less waste. You can find organic cotton period panties here.
There are also many organic brands of menstrual products now available. Organic pads and tampons provide both the convenience of disposable menstrual products and an ecologically healthier alternative to toxic ingredients.
Organic menstrual care products are made without the use of industrial synthetic pesticides and herbicides, bleach, perfumes, unnecessary chemicals, and deodorants. This is significantly better for the environment and for vaginas.
If choosing disposable menstrual products, look for sustainable brands that have organic ingredients and minimal plastic packaging.
Feminine care products impact our health and the environment.
Women bleed on average for 5 days a month, every month, for 40 years. That’s a lot of menstrual products per woman and there are currently almost 4 billion women on the planet!
This is why more women are switching to eco-friendly products.
Luckily, there are many options today to have a more sustainable period with natural and reusable menstrual products.
The best part is that natural period choices can enhance personal wellness as well as provide ecological benefits.