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Sustainable Period Guide– It’s Easier Than You Think!

As women, having our periods are practically inevitable. I know we should praise our femininity and the miraculous wonder that is the female body but to be honest, when that time of the month rolls around, we don’t care. Our period forces us to be high maintenance. There are so many tools and accessories required with catering to a period. As a result, there is so much waste.  Generally speaking, there is just an excess. Think of all the packaging on an individual pad. Consider how often you need to replace your tampon in a day, regardless as to how heavy your flow is. How long do your periods usually last? Yup, it’s a lot.

According to Flow: The Cultural History of Menstruation, the average woman throws away 250 to 300 pounds of period paraphernalia in her lifetime. Just like all other types of waste in existence, period waste pollutes the environment. Improperly disposed pads can clog sewers, plastic applicators can be broken down to microplastics which litter our oceans, beaches, streets and whatever else it wants. Many of us can feel stuck and maybe hypocritical as environmental activists because we can’t simply refuse a pad or tampon when our period is expected to arrive. 

Fortunately, the world has evolved a bit in the past few years. 

Yes, we have been introduced to more sustainable, zero-waste period alternatives. Trust me– it’s not as gross as you think! If you have taken an anti-plastic stance in the past few months or years, why not continue a valiant, progressive risk-taker? We can make an environmentally-conscious effort to reduce our period waste, too. Women are trailblazers in every aspect of life, anyways. This is easy. 

Ladies, I have never steered you wrong. Listen up.

Allow me to introduce you to this concept of investment. As you mature in the world, you may uncover the splendors of shelling out some coins to purchase pricier, quality items that can last longer. For those you ballin’ on a budget as students, recent graduates or young adults, it may be difficult for you to afford more expensive investment pieces, such as furniture or vehicles. I’ll be honest and admit that sometimes, the cheaper, more affordable options have a lifespan suitable for your needs. When it comes to periods though, we are more than familiar with our unique cycles and their routines. I’m sure you know your body well enough to identify what works during your time of the month, so why not consider investing in reusable items that will pay for itself the longer you own it. Most of these periods essentials aren’t even that expensive, but may seem overwhelming at first glance. 

Reusable Pads

Reusable pads are one of more seamless swaps to zero-waste menstruation. Fun fact: I hate pads, and stopped using them after I discovered tampons, however, my world has changed. I find they are more comfortable and snug than single-use pads! Most have a button on the wings to snap the pad in place. It holds quite a bit of blood before changing. When ready to swap out the pad, you can choose to ring it out with water before disposing in the laundry bin. I’d suggest isolating the load of pads with as few additional items as possible, but if you need to cram everything in, don’t worry– None of the bloody residual stuff contaminates your clothes! When out in public, you can discard your pad in a drawstring pouch for deal with at home. Some brands will even provide one for you! 

Menstrual Cup.

It seems like the menstrual cup has been all the rage the past few years, but it has probably stirred up the most concern amongst the menstruating community. Why? It forces you to become well acquainted with your vagina in ways you never have been before. It seems daunting, I know. Many worry that shoving a cup or anything up there will cause issues. In short, the menstrual cup is the closest replacement to a traditional tampon. The difference is that it collects blood rather than absorbs it. The cups are made with silicone materials that can be rinsed and boiled many times over. Some cups can last 10+ years, while others suggest yearly replacement. Be sure to confirm with the specific brand recommendation, and upkeep proper maintenance. 

There are plenty of menstrual cups to choose from, but it’s best to choose one based on how high your cervix is, and the intensity of your flow. The cervix is the end of your vaginal canal, and the only thing that can surpass the cervix is sperm so no, it won’t get lost in your body. It’s impossible.

Take the quiz to help find the best cup for you!

As the cup fills up with blood, the force of gravity will help pull the cup closer to the opening of your vagina. The fuller your cup, the easier it will be to remove– I promise. There is a little stem at the bottom of the cup you use to help tug the cup out. If you find it difficult to grip the stem, some women have found that using a bit of paper towel helps form some traction. I’d also like to shed light on the menstrual cups that have a loop at the bottom for those who would feel more comfortable removing the cup with greater assistance.

Period Panties.

Period panties are close cousins to the reusable pads. There are quite a few brands to choose from, and the deciding factor is ultimately, price point, style and purpose. Depending on the brand, some period panties can be used to replace pads or tampons altogether. Others can be used as an additional layer of protection under your menstrual cup or tampon. Either way, you are replacing your ugly, stained, regular underwear you have designated as your “period underwear” with state of the art, scientifically manufactured period underwear. Ah-ha! 

Most period panties are designed to hold about five times more than your average tampon, without feeling bulky or gross. The materials are light, breathable and odor neutralizing.

Can we take the time to appreciate the astounding women who trailblazed the way for sustainable periods? Finally, women are actively involving themselves in the industry of manufacturing period essentials… I guess it technically is a thing.  In a world often dominated by male entrepreneurs, women are owning their own space. If anything, support your fellow women and their innovative creations. 

Have I persuaded you to revamp your period routine? Give it a go! 

Sarah H

I'm a 20-something from Massachusetts doing the very best I can. I'm a sarcastic cold-brew fanatic with strong Sagittarius energy. I could easily walk 3-hours a day, everyday so consider this a hobby of mine. My favorite food is snack items you can dip, and my favorite animal is an orangutan. Instagram: @geezhessasta

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