We’ve accepted the fact that plastic bags are the worst and we’re finally learning to cut back on plastic straws — but if we really want to make a difference in protecting our oceans, we can take it one step further. More than 45 billion tampons and pads are disposed of every year, resulting in 32 million kgs of waste.
We can’t help that we have periods (thanks, biology), but there is something we can do about the amount of waste that comes along with every monthly cycle. Using eco-friendly period products can reduce the footprint we’re leaving behind every time Aunt Flo comes to town. Here are four ways you can have an eco-friendly period:
Use a menstrual cup
It may take a minute to get over the initial ‘ick’ factor, but once you learn how to use menstrual cups (like the Diva Cup or the Moon Cup), you’ll see that they are actually really convenient. You can use them for up to twelve hours, they’ll save you tons in both dollars and trips to the pharmacy, and they are completely waste-free.
Slip into your favorite leakproof underwear
Period panties can be used as back-up on light days or can hold up to two tampons worth of liquid on regular days. They are machine washable and can be reused for years after your initial purchase, saving both the environment and your bank account. And they’re designed to absorb all kinds of leaks, not just period blood, so they’ll have your back for any unexpected sneezes too.
Try organic tampons
Though organic tampons are more expensive and aren’t entirely waste-free, they do go easier on Mother Nature. Organic tampons are biodegradable, so they can be put in the compost along with your banana peels and apple cores. But if you’re buying tampons with applicators, ensure that the applicator is made of cardboard and is biodegradable too.
Invest in reusable pads
Wash, dry, reuse. Not unlike the pads we’re used to, cloth menstrual pads line your regular underwear and can be washed and reused. They are relatively inexpensive and can last for years.