Reusable Period Products 101

Anyone who menstruates is acutely aware of how messy it can be. Besides the bloody cleanup, period products tend to come with a lot of packaging that fills up your trash can quickly during that time of the month. Wrappers, applicators, pads, and tampons create a ton of mess that not only builds up monthly but yearly.

In the U.S alone, it is estimated that nearly 20 billion pads and tampons are discarded yearly. This plastic waste takes up space in landfills and ends up on streets, coastlines, and so many more places where it should never be. This reality has led many individuals to seek out reusable alternatives to help reduce their carbon footprint.

Quick note, before you test out a new reusable product, you should do your research and talk with your doctor to see if it is a good choice. Go in with a healthy amount of skepticism and curiosity. Unless you have received a confirmation on the product’s safety, avoid purchasing anything that goes inside of you off of Etsy or other individual vendors. And if you are interested in reusable tampons, which can be made at home, keep in mind that they have not been proven to be entirely safe. So, with all that said, and without sounding too sinister, proceed with caution.

Menstrual Cups

Though these products get a bit of a bad rep due to their slightly scary removal method, they have become a popular option for those wanting to go zero-waste with their menstrual products. These products are typically made of silicone or latex and have a flexible shape designed to hold anywhere from 25 to 60 milliliters of menstrual blood, depending on the brand. The menstrual cup can be folded for insertion and, once in place, creates a tight seal, so there is no fear of leaks.

Menstrual cups are said to last up to ten years without replacement and are easy to empty and clean. You can drop a menstrual cup in water and boil it before and after use for sanitation. Menstrual cups are a great option for those who don’t like sleeping in pads or with a tampon. Though the seal can make it difficult to remove initially, they are a great reusable alternative once you get used to it. Cups range in price from $10 to $60, but once you’ve bought one, it should last you at the very least six months to nearly ten years.

Period Underwear

Recently, reusable period underwear is the most popular option for individuals looking to lower their carbon footprint and ditch uncomfortable period products. Many people want to go the route of free bleeding; it is reportedly better for the body, reduces toxins and uncomfortable period symptoms.

Period underwear can be a savior for menstruators as they hold anywhere from 25 to 45 milliliters of fluid and can be easily washed and reused. The absorbency levels vary, and most period underwear retailers offer package deals so you can order a few at once. They tend to last anywhere from six months to two years if you take good care of them. These are a comfortable and environmentally friendly option for those who seek an alternative to traditional products.

Reusable Pads

While these are still gaining traction, many home crafters and a few new companies have started cropping up with reusable cotton pads as other eco-friendly alternatives. Reusable pads are another great option for those who prefer to free bleed rather than anything else. If you don’t like using products with plastics or chemicals in them, but you like the feel of pads, they offer the same comfort without harsh materials.

They are often equipped with snaps to hold them in place rather than adhesive, which are actually a bonus as adhesive strips can give out or move during the day. Reusable pads are easily washed, similar to how you would wash other cotton clothing pieces, and last up to five years.

Sea Sponges

You definitely read that right. Sea sponges are a naturally occurring alternative to tampons and can easily slide in the way you would a tampon. They are porous and incredibly absorbent. All you need to do is moisten them before insertion to help place them correctly without that dry tampon cringe. When you are ready to change it, all you need to do is rinse it, and you can reuse it. Sea sponges are very delicate and need frequent washing, and they only last about six to 12 months, but they are a great option if you want something entirely natural and easy to use.