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Sustainable Menstruation: Let's get Eco-Friendly with our Periods

Today, 28th May 2019, is Menstrual Awareness Day. It's a day designed to highlight the importance of good menstrual hygiene and just generally educate us all on how to look after our bodies, make others aware of what people go through who do menstruate, and just celebrate it! In celebration of this day, I thought I'd share some great brands and companies who help us get more sustainable with our period options by using eco-friendly materials, no toxic colourings, reusable products, and many more great things.

Previously, I've only ever really written lighthearted posts on "that time of the month" as although it's a topic that I don't think we should shy away from in society and I know I certainly don't in day-to-day life, I've always felt that there's so many great bloggers, activists, and advocates out there teaching us all more about menstruation and the stigma that can surround it that I can fall a little short and I'm not well-versed enough in the topic in general. Something I've become more conscious about and researched more and more over the past year however has been the actual sustainability behind our periods and honestly? It's been scary to uncover so much information - information which hasn't really filled me with much enthusiasm and has left me feeling a little like "why have we never been told this until now?".

Finding out that most commonly used and sold sanitary pads contain around 90% plastic and tampons are made of synthetic fibres with are bleached and you know, we insert those into our bodies, it all made me realise that I wanted to try and be more aware of what I was using for my body and also what was happening to those single-use products after I had used them. So here's some statistics for you all:
- It's estimated that there's around 9 plastic tampon applicators and 23 sanitary pads for every one kilometre of beach in the UK - each of them making their way into our water either through individuals flushing them down the toilet or landfill dumping them there
- Most commonly used tampons contain chemicals such as chlorine, rayon, ad dioxin. These chemicals pollute our planet once they sit in landfill
- Between 11,000-14,000 disposable sanitary products are used in an individual's lifetime
- Around 100 billion pieces/200,000 tonnes of waste every year are disposable tampons/sanitary pads, their packaging, and individual wrappers
- Although cotton is a good material in terms of biodegrading, it is the world's thirstiest crop, requiring six pints of water to grow just one bud of it. Most disposable sanitary product companies use non-organic cotton too (which is saturated in pesticides and insecticides)
- Most pads contain polyethylene plastic (the sticky bit you attach to your underwear) which pollutes the environment

It's easy to see why things need to change and why thankfully, there has been a lot of developments in brands and companies releasing eco-friendly alternatives that are not only better for our bodies but also for the planet. Whilst not everyone may be a fan of using a menstrual cup (I'm one of those people), there are still some great alternatives out there so you can make your small change which will have a great impact on not only keeping the most sensitive area of your body happy and healthy, but also the environment. You can reduce your carbon footprint using these products too so let's take a look at some great brands doing some absolutely fab things:

Menstrual Cups
Although I mentioned that I'm not a fan of them, menstrual cups have completing revolutionised periods for so many individuals and it's clear to see why. These reusable products are designed to last you years rather than hours unlike disposable single-use products and are free of harmful chemicals. They're a great option long term for saving money and websites such as OrganiCup can estimate just how much money you can save making the switch. Another benefit of using a menstrual cup is the fact that you should have no leaks and no need to take it out for up to 12 hours - this means that it's a great option for those who need a reliable product for busy days, travelling etc. Some of the top brands out there include:
- Diva Cup | £21.99 - made from 100% medical-grade silicone with no BPA, latex, plastic, or dye. Easily available at Superdrug
- Lunette | ~£28.00 - "everyone with a uterus deserves easy access to period care products"
- OrganiCup | ~£21.00 - made from 100% medical-grade sillicone with no BPA, latex or dye used in production of the product
- Mooncup | £21.99 - Vegan Society certified and the first sanitary protection manufacturer in the world to be awarded Ethical Business status for its people and environmentally-friendly practices

Period Underwear
One of the best developments over the last couple of years in my opinion has to be the boom of period pants. There's some great brands out there who have thought up comfortable reusable underwear options that can either be used as an extra safety net during your period or can simply replace the products you used to use depending on your flow. This sustainable option means there's no need to have additional products in your home as you can simply wash and reuse each pair. Most brands promise to hold up to two tampons worth and some have special lines for incontinence, post-pregnancy, and and odour control too:
- Thinx | ~£19.00-£30.00 - one of the "big name" brands, Thinx offer a range of pant-styles to suit your preferences, your flow, and your needs
- ModiBodi | £18.00-£37.00 - voted #1 brand for period and incontinence underwear offering various styles of underwear and swimwear! They also sell a vegan line too
- Flux Undies | £24.95-£27.95 - claiming to hold up to 4 tampons worth, Flux Undies also have a detachable pair so you can change on the go and for any pair bought, a girl in need will receive a reusable cloth pad
- Wuka | £23.99-£24.99 - ethically manufactured in the UK from sustainable beech tree fibres and come in a range of sizes from a UK 6 to a 20

Reusable Pads
A little like period underwear, reusable cloth pads have been a huge hit for many people as they're eco-friendly, can be washed and reused, and over time, save you money and the planet. You can get cloth pads from a wide range of online retailers, handmade ones, and they can suit a wide variety of flow needs. They're a good option for comfort and evening/nighttime wear:
- Bloom & Nora | £4.99+ - popper tabs for a secure fit, no nasty chemicals in the fabrics, and bamboo options are available
- Luna Landings | £3.50-£10.50 - handmade in the UK, Luna Landing's cloth pads are reusable, hygienic, eco-friendly, and comfortable and also come in a variety of absorbencies
- ImseVisme | ~£13-£22 - 100% organic cotton washable and reusable pads from Sweden that can minimise your waste and spending

Organic Pads, Tampons, & Applicator Tampons
As I mentioned earlier, organic cotton is grown without the use of toxic pesticides and is GM-free. It is soft and breahtable unlike many common brands who create cheap pads/panty liners/tampons etc. As they're breathable and haven't been contaminated with chemicals, they can be more comfortable for sensitive, irritable skin around the vaginal area. Unfortunately, brands and companies are under no obligation to share what ingredients are in their products so many of them choose not to disclose. As OHNE points out, there's stricter labelling standards for hamster food! Synthetically made tampons are also linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome and thus these simple swap-over options can be safer for you to use too:
- OHNE | £5.80-£6.80 - selling naked and applicator tampons, OHNE are 100% organic and allow you to mix and match your flow needs in each delivery box. They also donate regularly to The Girl Programme - a Zambian programme teaching girls sexual health and hygiene education
- TOTM | £2.70-£19.95 - vegan, cruelty-free, 100% organic with biodegradable card applicators, TOTM cover all your cup, tampon, pad, and liner needs and have a monthly subscription service so you're never caught out without products. They also donate to Endometriosis UK with every purchase
- Freda | £3.50-£6.99 - another monthly subscription box service with tampons that are made of 100% certified organic cotton and are biodegradable, hypoallergenic and free from chemicals and synthetic fibres and pads which are 100% eco-friendly and contain renewable materials (who also donate to end period poverty)
- Callaly | £?? - the creators of the tampliner (yes it's as good as it sounds. 100% organic, biodegradable, and hypoallergenic tampons with an attached liner to help minimise leaks. Sign up to the waiting list right now to know when these go on sale!
- Dame | £8.50-£24.99 - the world's first reusable tampon applicator which saves up to 12,000 disposable applicators and fits any tampons you purchase - Dame brand or not!

Menstrual Discs
The last product I want to mention is something that fits between a menstrual cup and a tampon - the menstrual disc is a bendable/flexible disc that collects up to 3 tampons-worth of fluid and can be disposed of after use. Although they are still a disposable option, they're designed with comfort in mind and can save you money in the long run if you usually opt for tampons but can't use a menstrual cup for any reason. They can remain in the body during sex too so they're really convenient:
- FLEX | £13 - can be worn up to 12 hours, 60% less wasteful than tampons, and 70% of users state they reduce cramps for them each month!

Hopefully the wide range of products and options have got you feeling inspired about being more eco-friendly with your period and making beneficial choices. There are a lot of great brands that I haven't mentioned that are available on the high street in your favourite drugstores, so get out there and get experimenting to see what works for you!

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1 comment

rewuest said...

YES! I was hoping to get period pants but they're a bit expensive... but then this post reminded me of reusable pads and I may or may not have just bought two... (I totally did). x

Rachel ||

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