Environmentally-friendly period alternatives / by Lisa Nguyen

Two-thousand and nineteen has been the year of rethinking, reducing and removing single-use, disposable products. Brands and businesses (we’re looking at you, major corporations) are committing to ending single-use, disposable products from their product lines now or else in the very near future, and consumers are getting savvier and demanding more sustainable solutions across all facets of life.

Something that may get missed in the sea of information are menstrual products. We’re all familiar with 2, maybe 3 products (hello pads and tampons) that are available to us on supermarket shelves and haven’t been presented with many alternatives beyond that. Until now. But why would you want to move away from what you know? Disposable menstrual products offer you convenience (generally) and hygiene factor. Well, the numbers start to get scary when you add up how many products are consumed and disposed in the average reproductive lifecycle for women (12,000 - this is not a typo). And then there’s the concerning proportion of plastic and not-so-natural materials found in these products (according to The Diva Cup, disposable pads can be up to 90% plastic, yikes).

We’ve compiled a list of environmentally-friendly period alternatives (it’s not even #sponcon!) you may want to try as a standalone or in conjunction with (cos who doesn’t like extra security?) your current solution.

Not ready to make the leap, but want to use safer products.

TOM Organic founder, Aimee Marks, came up with the idea of organic tampons and pads whilst completing a high school project. When reproducing the packaging to withstand life inside a handbag (we all know the crumpled up, torn cardboard box shoved in the dark recesses of our bags), she discovered the shocking ingredients list on the back of a box of cotton tampons. Along with a plethora of ingredients like polypropylene and synthetics - and very little cotton. The cotton that was used was typically conventional cotton - the world’s most heavily sprayed crop. Long story short (TL:DR), Aimee set about creating a line of pure organic cotton menstrual products - pretty phenomenal based off a high school graphic design project, wouldn’t you agree?

Key takeaway: use pure (certified) organic cotton or natural bamboo menstrual products where possible - you may also want to check for biodegradability.

  1. TOM Organic: https://thetomco.com/our-brands/tom-organic/

  2. Tsuno (natural bamboo pads and pure cotton tampons): https://www.tsuno.com.au/

Menstrual cups.

OrganiCup Menstrual Cup

OrganiCup Menstrual Cup

Menstrual cups are inserted into the vagina, like tampons - however, unlike tampons are not absorbent - they catch your flow (read: no more leakages). Most cups available on the market are 100% medical-grade silicone which mean they can be used up to 12 hours at a time (and with correct insertion, feel like you’re wearing nothing at all!), and cleaning and care is pretty straightforward. Did we mention they’re latex, toxin, bleach, dye, rubber, plastic and BPA-free? With appropriate care, cups can last for up to 10 years which makes it not only a cost-effective alternative, but also makes a huge dent on your consumption of disposable menstrual products.

Where to get your menstrual cup:

  1. The Ruby Cup (who have a ‘Buy one, give one’ program where they donate to girls and women who don’t have access to menstrual products - and often means girls can attend school when they have their period): https://rubycup.com/

  2. The Diva Cup (who have education and advocacy initiatives to spread the word about menstrual health): https://divacup.com/

  3. Lunette: https://lunette.com.au/

  4. OrganiCup Menstrual Cup available at Biome

Not a fan of the insertion method.

Enter period underwear and reusable pads. Both solutions are fairly self-explanatory but technology and innovation has enabled companies like Thinx to create materials that can absorb up to 4 tampons worth of liquid(!). And don’t worry, their cuts and styles are made to sit alongside your fancy and everyday undies so you can avoid the inevitable diaper-like feeling and waddle. They’ve even made activewear!

Period underwear extraoridinaires:

  1. Thinx: https://www.shethinx.com/

  2. Thinx make products for tweens and teens too - check out Thinx(BTWN): https://www.shethinx.com/pages/btwn

  3. ModiBodi: https://www.modibodi.com/

Reusable pads are the more conservative, alternative - in that they’re very similar in the way they’re shaped, cut and sit when compared to their disposable counterparts (as of right now, anyway). Instead of disposing of them, you rinse them in cold water (because hot water + blood = permanent staining, bet you didn’t know that, did you?) and add to your laundry cycle. Brands are making products that currently sit on two very distinct categories: bright and pattern-oriented designs or natural white cotton.

Very bright and lots of patterns, please:

  1. Hannahpad: https://hannahpad.com.au/

  2. GladRags: https://gladrags.com/

Plain jane for me:

  1. JuJu reusable cloth pads available at Biome

So, now that you’re armed with a few more alternatives - do you think you’ll try any of the above? Get your girlfriends in the know too and share this article.