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Sustainable Menstrual Products That Are Friendly to Our Planet

Wong Shu Lee  


  May 26, 2022

This coming Saturday (28th May), the world is celebrating Menstrual Hygiene Day. This day is celebrated to break the taboos and end the stigma surrounding menstruation, at the same time to raise awareness about the challenges regarding access to menstrual products, education about menstruation and period-friendly sanitation facilities. 


When deciding what products to use for menstrual periods, most people will pick up what’s easily found in stores. These are usually single use tampons or sanitary pads. However, conventional menstrual pads contain a significant amount of plastic. One estimate is that these disposable sanitary pads contain up to 90% plastic. Tampons, excluding the applicator, may contain up to 6% plastic. 


Today, we’re going to introduce some sustainable period products that are mindful of our planet. 


Menstrual Cups


Menstrual cups are made from medical-grade silicone, latex, or rubber. You insert a menstrual cup into your vagina, and it holds your menstrual fluids. Depending on your flow, you can leave it in for up to 12 hours. Then you remove, empty, wash, and reinsert it.‌


Sterilize your menstrual cup after each menstrual cycle and before you use it for the first time. You can do this by submerging it in boiling water for 5 minutes, or you can use a sterilizing solution.‌


It’s estimated that using a menstrual cup creates about 0.4% of the plastic waste produced by pads and 6% of the plastic waste produced by tampons.‌


Using menstrual cups can also lower your water use. In two studies, women said that fewer leaks meant not needing to wash stained clothes as often. Also, you use less water cleaning menstrual cups compared with reusable pads and cloths.


Period Underwear


This type of underwear has many layers in its lining. The layers are usually made from microfiber polyester that traps your menstrual blood. Period underwear can hold as much as one or two tampons.‌


Some companies have even produced period swimwear, leotards, and athletic shorts.


Reusable Menstrual Pads


Regular disposable pads have layers of synthetic fibers. These layers include a center with absorbent polymers and a plastic waterproof backing to help prevent leakage.‌


An eco-friendly alternative to disposable pads is the reusable menstrual pad. It works like a disposable pad. You secure it to your underwear, and it absorbs menstrual blood externally. After using it, you rinse, wash, and dry it. You can reuse it after it dries.‌


These pads can be reused for at least 5 years.


Greener Options for Disposable Menstrual Products


If you’re not ready for reusable menstrual products, here are some other ways to make your period more environmentally-friendly:


  • When buying disposable pads, look for non-chlorine bleached pads and tampons that are made with organic cotton and without harmful chemicals. 
  • Try reusable tampon applicators. Put the cotton tampon in the applicator and use it to insert the tampon, just like with a disposable applicator. Then rinse, dry, and reuse. 

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