Our plastic waste eats up landfills, oceans, and the environment around us. It's killing the planet and the creatures that inhabit it. If we all make small, easy swaps on everyday products, we can make one large change for Mother Earth! So I know we all dread that time of the month, but Aunt Flow visits us whether we like it or not. With some of these feminine products, we can change our habits to help our planet, our bodies, and our wallets!
Sanitary napkins can take from 500 to 800 years to decompose in a landfill. Reusable pads are an easy option when first starting your low-waste journey! The cloth pads snap around your underwear to stay in place, with an absorbing cloth inside to ensure that they don't leak. Most come with washable carrying cases so you can change out the pad out in public restrooms. If you're at home, you simply toss the cloth pad in your laundry basket. Cloth pads come in all shapes in sizes, even slim fit that are made for thongs. Not to mention there are adorable patterns and colors!
I recently bought a menstrual cup and cannot wait to try it! Menstrual cups are known for being incredibly comfortable, so comfortable you forget they're there. They last all day long, don't leak, and are completely reusable! All cups will come with an instruction guide. The cup is easy to insert, but you'll want to make sure you have a good understanding of where your cervix is before you do it. Once home for the day, all you have to do is pull the cup out and rinse it in your sink. Cleanliness is the most important factor to remember when using the cup. Most companies sell a soap that is safe for both you and the cup materials.
If you are a regular tampon user, I recommend the cup for you. It's similar, saves money, and is a healthier option than the chemicals found in your tampons, and we've all feared toxic shock syndrome which is not something that occurs when using the cup. On a less important note (but the fun part), my cup came with the cutest pink carrying case so I can throw it in my purse for emergencies.
Period panties are the easiest option by far. They take no extra work— you just put on underwear like you do every day. The nice part is that they come in all kinds of sizes and styles, from hip-huggers to bikinis and thongs. When I used period panties, I always went for the hip-hugging style, which I would recommend for any girls blessed with a big booty like me. My favorite part about period panties is that you can buy different kinds depending on how heavy your flow is. Think of these like regular and super-plus tampons. I opted for the heaviest flow option, only because I was scared of spotting onto my pants.
I loved my period panties and will continue to use them on my lighter days, but I advise caution to girls with heavy flows. The one downfall is that if you're out in public and start to feel like you need a fresh pair, you're SOL. Now, I never had the issue of needing to change them, so maybe they just gave me flashbacks of middle school and the constant fear that somebody could see spots on my jeans...but understand that they take some getting used to. Just don't knock 'em until you try them!
Although I am a fan of reusable products that are zero waste, I understand changing your habits can be difficult. If you can't make the switch and know tampons are the best option for you, try O.B. tampons! They reduce waste by not coming with the unnecessary plastic applicators. O.B. tampons are inserted by just using your finger, but don't worry about the mess they are designed to keep your tampon (and your finger) clean! O.B. tampons are a healthy, low waste option that won't disrupt the lifestyle you have today. They're easy to find online and in most stores!
All it takes are a few small changes in your lifestyle to conserve waste. Even though your period only comes once every month, think about how much plastic you'll avoid using over the course of a year!