Zero Waste Feminine Hygiene Products

by Kate Hall May 07, 2018

Zero waste menstrual products

The red monster, TOM, ‘got the painters in’, ‘on the rag’, shark week, lady business… let’s talk periods.

Firstly, there are no disclaimers here. I’m not going to warn you that I’m about to talk about a process that 50% of humanity go through every single month. That sounds silly, right? The truth is, periods are hugely taboo. And zero-waste periods? Urgh, shudder, run away. But not today!!

Keeping periods on the down low, means we are quick to brush over our feminine hygiene product preferences, or consider alternatives. We practice what we’re taught by the older women in our household, and live with it. There are so many different hygiene products to choose from, and what a waste for them to stay swept under the rug!

There are ways to care for your body with the environment in mind. With period waste greatly contributing to our landfill issues, we can’t afford to let this conversation slip by.

Here are the facts:

  • The average Australian woman uses between 10,000 and 12,000 tampons and/or pads in her lifetime. This costs her anything from $5000 to $15,000
  • Over a lifetime, tampons create up to 140kg of waste, and ooze chemicals into the environment
  • 300 million tampons are sold in Australia every year, each one covered in a plastic coating
  • Australian women buy 500 million pads a year- also covered in plastic
  • Legally, companies don’t have to tell us what their tampons and pads are made of (a scary thought as we get so intimate with our menstrual products!)
  • A pad takes 500-800 years to biodegrade… nasty

Mainstream menstrual products include cotton tampons, pads, and liners. But with these facts above weighing so heavily on our environment (not to mention our pockets!), surely there are other ways to go about it?

Can I have a zero-waste menstrual cycle?

YES: Menstrual cups. Reusable pads. Period panties!

Zero waste period blog

Menstrual cups

My personal favourite, the menstrual cup is a bell shaped, silicon-based object that sits in the vaginal canal to collect the blood. It can happily sit there for up to 12 hours, depending on your flow. To change it, simply remove, empty, wash, and reinsert. A menstrual cup can be anywhere between $25-$60, but check this out… they can last up to 10 years! Buying a menstrual cup literally saves you $4,000 to $5,000 every 10 years. Imagine how much you would save over a lifetime?


Reusable pads

I started with The Hannah Pad liners about a year and a half ago. Now I can’t ever imagine going back. Reusable pads and liners can be used just like the disposables, but instead of throwing them straight in the bin to then fill up landfill with gross bacteria, you rinse, soak, and wash these pads, to be used over and over again.

It does sound gross at first; I won’t pretend it’s sunshine and fairies! But after you do it once, you quickly get over yourself. The pads are made with organic cotton, are breathable, and super soft on your skin. The best part… most reusable pads come in beautiful fabrics and colours, making your monthly mission slightly more cheerful.


Period Panties

The latest invention in the world of periods: underwear that soaks up your period so you can simply rinse with cold water, and throw them in the wash. The underwear is built with a leak resistant layer, and made to be extra sexy to fight the idea that woman would feel like they were wearing a nappy- which is totally not the case.

Making myself aware of mainstream period waste issues, and investigating product alternatives, has helped me become more aware of my body. I’m more involved in my monthly cycle, and this makes me less angry at my body for being an ‘inconvenience’ every month. When I see my cup fill up, and wash my reusable pads, I become more accepting of the fact that it’s simply a natural thing. I’ve grown stronger in my sense of womanhood and pride, and knowing I’m diverting so much waste, gives me empowerment.

Branch out, do your research, bring up this conversation with your girlfriends, and find a product that works best for your body (with the planet in mind too please!).

 

FURTHER RESOURCES:

Ladies We Need to Talk Podcast: Let's Slay the Menstrual Taboo

Take the Quiz: Do you know the Menstrual Fact from Fiction




Kate Hall
Kate Hall

Author

Kate is a word smith, kombucha addict, serial smiler, and zero waste enthusiast. She believes life's too short to think of yourself as one tiny person who can't make change. Slow fashion and green living are what gets her up in the morning, and her hand-raised bird will forever be found nuzzling into her shoulder.



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