Zero Waste Periods: Reusable Pads, Menstrual Cups and Period Panties
Updated: Jan 15, 2019
No one likes getting their period (besides that its a sign that you aren't pregnant) and I was no different, until I began my Zero Waste journey with reusable menstrual pads and a menstrual cup, which changed my life forever.
Buying tampons and pads is your initiation into womanhood and was a non negotiable way of life. It meant buying menstrual products month in and month out for an average of 40 years or 480 periods.
When you break it down it stacks up to thousands of dollars spent on disposable products and not to mention the waste produced, due to a bodily function that every woman on earth will have to endure during her lifetime.
It seemed like it was just a fact of life and I was never told any different. That is until I discovered the Zero Waste lifestyle and realised that there were other options available when it came to managing periods, which would save both money and the environment.
Reusable Menstrual Pads
I started my Zero Waste period journey by buying three reusable menstrual pads for the sole fact that I hated using tampons. Till this day I am still using those three pads and wouldn’t look at using disposables again, unless it was an unfortunate emergency.
A reusable menstrual pad is identical to a disposable pad except it is made of cloth and can be washed to be used again. To attach the reusable pads have wings with a button clasp which won’t damage your delicates. You’ll also have a range of options to suit your needs including cute design, size and absorbance.
Once you get over the fact that you have to rinse your menstrual blood from the reusable pads prior to throwing them in the wash, it's really a simple process and becomes routine when managing your period.
A cloth pad allows your body to breathe and feels more comfortable
Average initial spending of $25
Can be used for postpartum (after giving birth)
If you are squeamish they might not be for you, but just remember it's a natural bodily function that all women have to endure.
You need to rinse them as soon as possible, which can be difficult in a public place.
Moving in with your partner and them discovering your menstrual pads on the washing line…
Reusable pads were helping me to achieve a Zero Waste period but I was still sneaking a tampon here and there from my sister when I wanted to go swimming at that time of the month. So I did some research into menstrual cups and to my surprise they were everything a tampon wasn’t.
Tampons would dry me out and felt uncomfortable, not to mention the never ending fear of contracting Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) if you left them in too long. Whereas a menstrual cup would eliminate these issues as they collect rather than absorb your menstrual flow.
I decided on a Juju cup as they are made in Australia with medical grade silicone. It seems like a big investment when first buying one (around $50) but the savings in the long term compared to buying disposables more than pays for itself.
There are several ways to fold and insert a menstrual cup and it does take some practice to find the right method for you. But once you’ve inserted a menstrual cup correctly it should feel like nothing is there and will help the horrible cramps which accompany tampon use.
Using a menstrual cup changed the way I viewed having my period. I used to dread that time of month but now it’s just a fact of life that doesn’t inconvenience me the way it used to. It also makes traveling a breeze, as you only have to sterilise it by boiling or washing it with drinking water. Taking the inconvenience out of bringing multiple disposable products and the stress of having to find more when you run out in a foreign country.
Compact and easy for travel
Comfortable and doesn’t cause dryness
Can be worn for longer than disposable tampons and pads
No fear of contracting Toxic Shock Syndrome
Takes some practice to be able to insert and remove comfortably
Costly initially ($50) but compared to buying disposable products, pays for itself in the long run
A new player in the Zero Waste period game, period panties are a revolutionised version of reusable menstrual pads built into your underwear. Eliminating the feel of bulky pads and fear of any possible leakage, with the added bonus of actually feeling sexy during your period!
Period underwear can be used alone or in conjunction with a menstrual cup depending on your flow and preference. They are so comfy they can even be used when its not your time of the month when you run out of clean panties.
Like with reusable menstrual pads they do need to be rinsed free of any blood before throwing them into the wash.
Comfortable without the feel of wearing a pad
Numerous underwear designs available
More teen friendly for their first period
Can be used for bladder leaks and postpartum
You still have to deal with rinsing out your blood before throwing them into the wash
Changing over to reusable menstrual products takes a little time to get used to, especially if you feel a bit ikky about being more hands on during your period. But in all honesty I feel that it gets you more in tune with your body and enables you to accept that periods are a natural phenomenon that all women endure.
Have you made the Zero Waste switch to reusable menstrual products?
Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below if you are still on the fence about trying them out