This is a new one for me. I haven’t posted a product review on here before because… Well, I don’t know. Like many, I am a self-confessed online shopping addict but I try to balance it out by buying sustainable and necessary things. Yes, this means I get a huge kick out of the arrival of eco-friendly dishwasher tablets! Whilst we’ve been in isolation, I’ve had more time to think about ways to change my living habits to be kinder to the earth (and hopefully my bank balance too!). Therefore, I decided that for my next cycle, I would try out reusable sanitary pads.
Menstruation can suck. Cramps, bloating, the random and unpredictable skin outbreaks, you name it. Personally, I feel even worse every time I throw out used sanitary products. It’s not like there’s much else you can do with them, but the waste produced every month is staggering. A National Geographic article found that a single menstruator will use somewhere between 5 and 15 thousand pads and tampons, the vast majority of which will wind up in landfills as plastic waste. It’s not only the pads and tampons themselves that count as plastic. Each item is usually shrink wrapped in plastic, wrapped in further plastic and packaged in plastic coated boxes.
So, what can we do? Period products are personal to each user. The period cup has become a fan favourite for some, but it wasn’t for me. It was like pushing a small rubber cup into… well, you get the picture. However, it might be for you. They cost around £20 and last 10 years, being able to be boiled for hygiene purposes and have a wonderful reputation for being leak-proof, odour-proof and comfortable for the users. The cups are non-porous which means they are fully hygienic as they do not harbour bacteria, as well as being hypoallergenic when made from silicone. They are mostly likely more suitable for tampon users who are used to the application process, but I would definitely recommend giving them a research and try if you’re interested. I tried the brand Mooncup which offers two sizes. They are an ethical, employee-owned company, started by two female entrepreneurs and each cup is vegan and zero-waste, packed in cardboard.
Another popular option is the reusable tampon applicator. These plastic devices are highly necessary for some menstruators but take more than 500 years to decompose. Therefore, the company DAME has created the first reusable tampon applicator that is completely hygienic, made from anti-microbial polymers. Their website states that:
The award-winning design is self-sanitising, works with every size tampon, and lasts for life. Enjoy a comfortable period, without the plastic waste. Oh, it’s also carbon neutral.DAME
Each applicator is easy to clean, only requiring a rinse with clean water and wiping dry. Again, this company started recently in 2015, started by a group of friends who saw a problem with the menstruation sanitation industry and its plastic waste. Their mission is to reduce the amount of tampon applicators in landfill by 15% by 2022 and are already certified carbon neutral. They produce their own tampons too, that are 100% cotton and nothing else. They offer starter kits including their own tampons, or you can buy the applicator individually for £17.99. If you’re a tampon user, I would definitely recommend checking them out!
If you’re more of a pad person, do not despair! There are plenty of options for environmentally conscious replacements. They tend to fall into two categories: period pants or reusable pads. It might initially feel strange and oddly unprotected to use something that only feels like fabric, but in my experience, I’ve never been so comfortable.
The first option I mentioned, the period pants, is dominated by the market leader, Thinx, with their tagline, ‘for people with periods.’ Their pants look and feel like regular underwear, but, according to Thinx, can hold up to 4 tampons’ worth of blood. They offer many styles, from high waisted to boy shorts, and have absorbency scales under each style so you can best determine the right styles for you. Their website is lovely, with models of all shapes and sizes showing the versatility of the products. Also, with every product sold, wonderful causes are supported, such as the battle to end period poverty:
Alongside our partners (and with your support!) we’re fighting for better access to puberty education, amplifying grassroots activism, and donating our undies and time. When you purchase Thinx you’re helping give life to our programming and initiatives — thank you!Thinx
The only thing that dissuaded me from purchasing Thinx is my budget. Although I can completely understand the positive impact of their product and how the money is spent, each pair of underwear costs around £30. In my estimations, I would need at least 4 pairs to ensure enough washing and drying time, which would take my initial costs to about £120. This might be an option for some people, but on a student budget, it’s not right now. However, when I do have the funds available, I really look forward to being able to try Thinx and to be able to support their incredible humanitarian mission.
So what does that leave for me? I have recently begun using the reusable pads, made from charcoal and bamboo fibres. I have been pleasantly surprised by how good they are. I was willing to put in some extra effort for the environment, but these are really just that easy. Each pad is incredibly soft and is secured by two poppers where the sticky wings would normally go. The inclusion of the charcoal means that there isn’t any unpleasant odour. To reuse, I rinse them in cold water and then put them into an ordinary wash. They’re suitable for day and night and are leakproof. I would really recommend these. There’s very little difference from using plastic pads and they even come with a waterproof zip bag for if you’re on the go.
These retailed for £8.95 for one pack of two pads so I bought two packs. I wasn’t hugely bothered about having the pretty patterned ones, because honestly I’m not sure how long they would be nice for. They grey works for me, being comfortable, soft, and durable. There are so many companies and small businesses that produce these pads, but remember to check reviews as some are more style over substance.
Do you have any recommendations or favourites? Let me know in the comments!
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