Your Guide to a Zero-Waste Period
There are so many ways to reduce your waste these days but while it’s fashionable to flaunt your designer reusable coffee cup and bring your own shopping bags, it’s still awkward to talk about the waste that occurs during that time of the month.
It definitely shouldn’t be awkward but whether you’re ready to chat with others or just want to read this post in the privacy of your bedroom, this post gives you the low down on having a zero-waste period.
The average woman will use around 15,000 tampons or pads in her lifetime so imagine the waste that could be prevented by switching to some sustainable period products. They also save you a lot of money in the long run. Have a read of your options on reducing waste during your period.
I’ve been using a cup for about four years and would never go back. For me, it’s really easy, comfortable and was the perfect solution during the two years we were travelling. I didn’t have to carry boxes of tampons with me or worry about finding them in foreign countries.
It’s basically a silicon cup which is placed inside the vagina and collects the blood. It can be washed and reused for up to ten years which means it works out much cheaper than buying single use items.
They can take a bit of getting used to so I recommend trying it while you’re at home and give it at least a couple of cycles until you feel properly comfortable using it. There are different sizes depending on whether you’ve given birth etc so have a look at a few different brands and choose the right one for you. They don’t work for everyone so don’t worry if it’s not for you!
A menstrual cup can be used for up to 12 hours so it’s great for not having to worry about changing protection while you’re out and about. They shouldn’t leak but you can always combine it with a reusable pad or period underwear for extra piece of mind.
Your cup simply collects the blood and can be rinsed and used again straight away. Once your period is over, clean and store your cup somewhere dry. Make sure you sterilise your cup before the start of your next period. You can buy a special wash for your menstrual cup which is mild enough for use on sensitive areas. But you can also just place it in boiling water to sterilise it.
I bought mine online when I was living overseas and have had no issues – it’s this one here.
But since moving back to NZ, if I were to buy a new one I’d support a local business such as Wā Collective. Their cups are ethically and zero-waste produced and every cup purchased subsidises another cup for someone in need. If that doesn’t scream sustainable period I don’t know what does!
Reusable Pads for a Zero-Waste Period
Like cloth nappies or hankies, these are made to be used, washed and used again. And that’s all there is to it really. They come in different absorbency levels for different days or period types. You can also get them made from a variety of fabrics but cotton is best for keeping everything soft and breathable down there!
I rinse/soak mine in cold water before throwing them in a warm wash. I use lighter ones with my menstrual cup on really heavy days and use others overnight. Sometimes I hand wash them and hang them up to be used the next day.
Read more on how to create a more sustainable bathroom.
Period Underwear for a Zero-Waste Period
This takes the protection of a pad and builds it into the underwear so that you have slimline comfortable protection during your period. You can use them on their own or with a menstrual cup.
There are lots of different brands and styles with more and more available every day. You can get everything from big comfortable cover-all ones to lacy numbers all with protection built-in. Simply rinse them after use and throw them in a cold or warm wash.
I’ve just ordered my first pairs to try out so I’ll add a review in a couple of months but I’ve been told that no, they don’t feel bulky and uncomfortable. Yes, they’re absorbent enough not to leak or feel wet when you’re wearing them.
As with almost everything, locally made is better so search ‘period underwear *your region or country* and see what’s available. If you’re in NZ I found Danu Naturals as the only NZ made option but Awwa the Label and Her Vitals are also ethically and sustainably made and NZ owned.
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