Since speaking about ecology became mainstream, more and more alternative period products have started to appear. Some derive inspiration from the means our great grandmothers used during their moon time, and some rely on modern research and technology. This should be eternally celebrated, as from this wide range of products, each woman may find something suitable for herself. But sometimes it is not easy to navigate in this vast sea of products, and to become aware of the new stuff out there. In this article we will look at some of the latest products changing the face of our time of the month.
The author of this article began her discovery of alternative period products with reusable pads. They are typically made of bamboo or cotton, with a PUL layer inside. The idea is to use them in the usual way, then wash and dry them after use, and repeat. It might sound like a lot of hassle, but, in fact, these pads are not hard to take care of. Soaking in cold water and then putting them in the washing machine is all there is to do. Typically, it is not recommended to machine dry, and natural during is preferred. There are quite a few brands which produce reusable pads, but I find HannahPad the best so far. They are made using organic cotton and pretty designs, which you can customize. They are suitable for vegans as well.
Period-proof underwear works in a similar way, but the absorbent layer is already inside the underwear. Modibodi pioneers this approach, with extremely affordable prices. The good thing about Modibodi is that their heavy/overnight model’s absorbency layer covers all the way up to back. This design means you can save your sheets from panicked trips through the laundry. The caring is very similar to reusable pads. Soaking in cold water and then machine washing. Many of the brand’s models have wool in their absorbency layer, but recently they have produced a vegan line too.
The advantages of these products are that they reduce plastic waste and are arguably healthier for the wearer. For example, in 2014, Always pads were proven to contain styrene, chloroform and acetone (known carcinogens). It is helpful psychologically to use pads with pretty patterns or period-proof underwear with a nice design – keeping us feeling fresh and put-together.
The disadvantages are that one would need a space to dry these products. And for heavy/overnight models it could take quite a long time to dry. You also need to buy a bunch of them at once in order to be covered during your whole cycle, which could put a strain on some budgets if you opt for the more expensive brands.
The Menstrual Cup has also gained popularity in recent years. It is perhaps the most eco-friendly and budget-friendly of all the sustainable choices. They come in various forms and sizes, and have to be washed and sterilized after every use with either a special sterilizer or by placing in boiling water. However, while period-proof underwear and reusable pads are suitable for everyone and for other conditions (for example, for incontinence or postpartum bleedings), menstrual cups can only be used for periods. It is also unsuitable for women with vulvodynia or vaginismus.
The closest to the usual disposable pads option is biodegradable one time use pads and tampons. This year our University is providing us with these products from TOTM for free in the toilets across campuses, and this is a great brand. Both the packaging and the products themselves are compostable and biodegradable within 3 months. When buying directly from their website, customers can subscribe to receive a customized package every month on a certain date. The only disadvantage of them is that they do not protect the sheets as well as the overnight absorbency model of Modibodi period-proof underwear.
Whichever eco-friendly method you choose to adopt, you are doing that little bit extra for the planet by choosing to try one of the more sustainable options above.
Image Credit: Vanessa Ramirez via Pxhere.com