our bodies

How to Have a Sustainable, Plastic Free Period

April 21, 2021
Isabella Torchia

Are periods bad for the environment?  

According to the UN, we only have about 10 years left to prevent irreversible damage from climate change. And while mass industrial activity, deforestation and lack of acknowledgement from governments all around the world is enough to feel paralyzing— there’s a lot of work to be done.

There are so many things we can do daily to help our beautiful home planet. A little can go a long way in reducing your carbon footprint, especially if we band together. 

One of the simplest things we can do collectively is cut out single use plastics. While we’ve done good work by expunging and replacing everyday items like plastic straws, grocery bags, water bottles and coffee cups, we seem to have missed something. 

What we don’t often talk about is the plastic waste from disposable period products. And there’s a lot of it. Let’s break down some numbers. 

The average amount of days someone will menstruate in their lifetime is 2400. And a single menstruator typically uses 15,000+ disposable period products during that time. According to National Geographic, that adds up to 5,800,000,000 tampons used in the United States in 2018 alone. 

And that's just in one year. Disposable menstrual products have been filling up landfills since the first disposable menstrual pad was made in the 1888. That’s 132 years of waste from menstrual products. Not only is that a ton of build up, but most pads are made with harmful polyethylene plastics on the sticky part of the pad, which leaches into the environment over time.  And most tampons and applicators contain a whole slew of harmful chemicals like chlorine, rayon and dioxin. When these chemicals sit in landfills, they eventually get soaked up by the Earth and cause water and air pollution.

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How to make your period eco-friendly

This is actually easier than you think. You may have to adjust your period routine a little bit— by swapping out disposable plastic period products with more sustainable options. Here are some products that'll help you (and the Earth) have a more sustainable, eco-friendly period.

Leakproof Period Underwear

Leakproof, absorbent period undies are a great product to have if you want to tackle your period and climate change.

An easy start is with Super Leakproof Underwear. With technology that holds up to 8 tsps of liquid (that’s 8 regular tampons), Knix has created a solution that completely replaces the need for disposable period products— no matter how heavy your flow is. No more tampons or pads... ever. The most absorbent pair of Knix Leakproof underwear, they’re also free of chemicals and PFAS— keeping you dry, secure, and most importantly, safe.

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Knix has a wide range of Leakproof Underwear that has you covered no matter what. Check out our entire collection here (including a friendly Cotton-Modal mix seen below) to start cutting out single-use period plastics for good. 

cotton modal underwear

Menstrual Cup

Cups might seem a little scary at first but Earth will love you for using one. Instead of using all those individually wrapped (and chemical filled) tampons, cups are made of high quality healthcare grade silicone. Not only does that make them super safe and reusable, but incredibly comfortable and flexible as well! If you’re intimidated by the cup, that’s totally normal. It might take a little practice to insert, but once you get it you’re set for life. Read our guide here on how to get started.

Organic Tampons

For many, tampons have always been their tried and true method of period protection. If this is you, you’re in luck! Brands like Lola, o.b, and L.Organic all have tampons made from 100% organic cotton. The best part? These options either have no plastic applicator, or applicators made from non-toxic or plant-based materials. Research which option is best for you and your body, all while knowing that you’re doing your part to eliminate plastic waste from your period.

Period Tracker Apps

Period and health apps like Clue and Flo are great for predicting exactly when your period is coming to town and how long it’s going to last. And while there are multiple uses for these apps (birth control, family planning etc), they can also be used as a tool to help you be more environmentally conscious. Being sure of exactly when things are happening in your cycle will cut out the guessing game.

Not knowing sometimes leads you to wearing period products too early or late just to be safe. We’ve all had moments where we’ve worn a pad or liner “just in case” when we didn’t need to. The more we can cut out single-use period products from landfills, the better! 

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Have any other tips or tricks? Send us a DM and let us know how you're ditching disposables.