Have a Comfy, Sustainable Period: Save money while Saving the Planet
Have we normalized talking about periods yet? I hope so. If not, let me throw in my contribution: half of the people on this planet have periods. It’s just a thing that happens. So, we can’t really just not talk about it.
If you’re a person who has a period, you know that when that time of the month comes, the goal is to get through it as easily and comfortably as possible (or maybe not, you do you). We all have little things that we do during this portion of our cycle to help us enjoy it as much as we possibly can. Hot baths, pain-relieving methods, some good snacks, massages - you deserve to do whatever it is you need to do to take care of yourself and allow this time to be a positive experience. “Sanitary supplies” are a part of this process; feeling clean and comfy, whatever that looks like for you, can really help to make you feel more confident and free while our bodies are working hard to do their cleaning-thing.
Though sustainability and what our trash-can looks like might be the absolute least of our concerns during this time, it’s kind of an issue: your typical store-bought disposable pads and tampons can take more than 500 years to degrade. Think about how many of us have periods. Think about how many pads or tampons we use during our periods...yikes. The other thing is, where I live in the United States, most states don’t require companies that produce menstrual products to disclose their ingredients...also yikes. Not only do you not know what you’re disposing in to the environment, but more importantly lord knows what you’re putting inside of you.
I’m about to give you a list of options that are not only going to be better for the planet, but are also allegedly better for your body. No matter what you’re comfortable with, there’s a safer and more sustainable alternative to your typical drugstore period routine. A note, for the reusable options: don’t be afraid of a $30-40 price tag for a medically-safe internal menstrual device, or quality external option. You will make that money back in just a couple of months of use since you’re no longer continuously buying pads or tampons every month. Don’t worry, as always, we’re living mindfully on a budget here at Broke Goddessery.
External protection options
If you prefer to wear external flow-protection, here are a few options for a more sustainable monthly.
100% Cotton or bamboo pads
If you prefer sticking to a disposable option and don’t like the idea of having to clean your period products, biodegradable pads do exist. Here are a couple of companies who claim to be 100% biodegradable and free of harmful chemicals:
Or, if you’re ready to try reusable products but don’t want to deviate too much from your typical pad, in comes the reusable liner. The reviews of these brands claim that they’re easy to wash, no bulkier than your typical disposable pad, and keep the flow where it’s supposed to be.
Reusable period panties
If your flow is moderate-light, period panties can be a great option (and it’s like, you’re wearing nothing, but you’re still protected? Cool!). Again, all you have to do is wash them, and you’re good to go again. Period panties tend to cost a bit more than reusable pads, but if you like how they feel, it’s worth it.
Period Yoga Pants?
Do you absolutely hate wearing anything extra while you’re on your period? Don’t want to have to wear underwear with your leggings? If you have a lighter flow, maybe you should give period leggings a go. I have personally never tried these, but if you’d like some insight into what it’s like to spend a day in period leggings, Safiya Nygaard has a video reviewing these period yoga pants. To be honest, they’re pricey, like a high-end legging. Also, because they’re so pricey, you probably aren’t going to want to buy enough to cover you through a whole cycle, so if you want to wear these and only these for your period, you’re going to have to wash them every day. But if going commando during your period is a dream of yours, do it, I guess?
Internal protection options
If you like to keep it out of sight, out of mind, you’ve got a few different things you can try. When making the switch to a reusable product, yes, it can be totally sanitary; you just have to make sure that you are following the sterilization instructions each brand recommends. Most can just be cleaned and then sterilized in boiling water, but if you want to make it easier for yourself (or you don’t like the idea of using one of your cooking tools as a cup-boiler), there are menstrual-product specific cleaning devices.
100% Cotton or bamboo tampons with no applicator (invest in a reusable applicator!)
Same concept as the cotton pads - if you would really prefer to stick to an option you’re familiar with and don’t have to clean, this is an insanely easy swap. Purchase biodegradable pure organic cotton tampons (good for the environment and good for the body) - if you want, you can stop right there - or if you really don’t like the idea of getting too invasive, you can get a reusable applicator to go with them.
The menstrual cup
The “menstrual cup” is a reusable, internal method of flow protection that will last you for years (with proper care). Typically, equipped with a “cup” shape, and a long “string” that you grip to pull it out. When inserting the cup, you fold it to make it easy to insert, and it will expand on its own inside, so it stays secure and catches your flow. Most menstrual cups are made of 100% medical grade silicone, like the two options I’ve listed below. Cups can be worn up to 12 hours, which is a bonus. Sustain offers their cup in different sizes for different bodies.
The period disc
The disc is unique because they are considered safe to wear during intercourse, if you’re interested in some mess-free intimacy. Like the cup, they are typically made of 100% medical-grade silicone, last through several years-worth of wear, and can be worn for longer periods of time (haha, periods, get it?). Both the cup and the disk boast to be amazing for most levels of flow. Like Sustain, the Lumma disc comes in different sizes.
You can’t go wrong with any of these options, it’s just about what you’re comfortable doing; these products will help you save money while saving the planet, and are going to be tremendously better for your body than their drugstore counterparts. You don’t have to jump from using disposable pads to a menstrual cup in order to have an environmentally-sustainable period; there’s something for everyone. For all of us humans who have periods, we deserve better; take care of your body, and feel amazing while you’re at it.