10 Zero Waste Period Products

10 Zero Waste Period Products

Before I went zero waste, I sent about 36 pads to landfill every period cycle. That’s basically 432 pads every year (ahem, probably still sitting in a landfill somewhere, since plastic doesn’t break down for hundreds of years…). That’s not exactly something I’m proud of, and yet, it’s not an uncommon story. Every single day, wrappers, applicators and packaging from period products are carelessly discarded, affecting our landfills, oceans and wildlife. Not only is it an environmental waste, but it’s a costly waste. Thankfully, there are such things as eco-friendly period products that can be reused, recycled or composted. Once I learned about reusable pads, period underwear and menstrual cups, my world changed. That’s why these 10 zero waste period products are absolute game changers.

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10 Zero Waste Period Products

10 Zero Waste Period Products

Why switch to zero waste period products?

There’s no question that using disposable period products is incredibly wasteful. Approximately 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons are thrown away each year. While many of these products end up in landfills, others clog sewers or contribute to plastic waste in our oceans.

If you take a long walk on the beach, chances are you’ll find a tampon applicator or two. Trust me, it’s more common than you’d think. It can take over 20 years for tampon applicators to break down in marine environments and can be ingested by animals. This can cause severe health complications or even death.

On average, a person gets their period for around 40 years! If 16 tampons are used per cycle and each box costs around $8.00, that means, on average, you will spend approximately $1,900 on period products every year. This doesn’t even take painkillers, new underwear, and comfort food into account.

On November 24th 2020, Scotland became the first country in the world to provide FREE pads and tampons. As a US resident, I’m so jealous. In most states, there’s a sales tax on period products and they’re even described as a luxury item and nonessential. Which, we all know, is absolutely false! This is why it’s worth looking into and investing in zero waste period products. They aren’t only better for your body and the environment, but they’ll help your wallet in the long run, as well.

How much waste do periods produce?

Well, the average American woman menstruates for 38 years and during that time she can be expected to produce a grand total of 62,415 pounds of garbage. Period-related waste should make up about 0.5 percent of your personal landfill load during your fertile years.

How do tampons end up in the sea?

It might surprise you to know this, but I’ve spotted many a tampon applicator on the beach. How do they get there you ask? Well, they’re usually not accepted for recycling due to sanitary purposes so people often make the mistake to flush them down the toilet. This is never a good idea and the toilet can lead to the ocean when sewer systems fail.

How can we have a zero waste period?

We can have a zero waste period by switching to menstrual cups, period underwear or reusable pads. I personally prefer period underwear because it’s so comfortable I can forget about them. However, if you have a heavy flow, you may want to consider investing in multiple options to see which works best for you.

I find having reusable pads and period underwear around to be the most efficient mix for me. Sometimes for added protection I’ll even layer a pad on top of my period undies. Generally, if you prefer tampons – switch to a menstrual cup. Pads? Cloth pads or period underwear.

Zero waste period products:
Menstrual cups, period underwear + reusable pads

10 Zero Waste Period Products

1. Saalt Silicone Menstrual Cup

  • 100% medical grade silicone
  • Zero Waste
  • Free of BPA, latex and chemicals
  • Thoughtful packaging
  • Reusable
  • Vegan and cruelty-free

If you’re searching for a durable period product that’ll save the environment and save you money, this silicone menstrual cup is perfect for you. It’s made from 100% medical-grade silicone that is free of chemicals, BPA and latex. Menstrual cups are meant to collect your period, rather than absorb it, so this is safe to wear for up to 12 hours a day. It’s comfortable, reliable and easy to use.

Saalt provides two different cup sizes: small (equivalent to 2-3 tampons) and regular (equivalent to 3-4 tampons). If you’re younger, petite, a first time user, or have a light to normal flow- small may be the best size for you. If you have a normal to heavy flow, a high cervix or been through childbirth- regular is recommended. Each cup is packaged in plastic free recyclable cardboard, shaped in an adorable cylinder to store your cup when it isn’t your time of the month.

10 Zero Waste Period Products

2. Shethinx Period Underwear

  • Leak-resistant
  • Moisture-wicking, absorbent and waterproof layers
  • Reusable
  • Neutralizes odors
  • Recyclable packaging

Not a fan of sticking something inside you or sticking something to your undies? SAME. So for me, Shethinx period underwear is the perfect alternative. I have so. many. pairs of their Hiphuggers. They’re game changers I’m telling you (especially if you’re like me and have a heavy flow).

There’s so many different styles and sizes to choose from. Each underwear has a different level of absorbency, from light to super absorbent, depending on your flow. The fabric is made to be leak and stain resistant, so you’ll be kept clean and dry. It also controls and neutralizes odors, so everything will feel and smell fresh all day long. Since these are like a normal pair of underwear (only extra absorbent and cute) you can machine wash them and reuse them every month! Such a great money saver.

If necessary, you can wear Thinx with a pad, tampon or menstrual cup for extra protection. They’re available in sizes XXS to XXL, so there’s a size and style for every body type. Also, just an FYI, these do come packaged in plastic. However, it’s shipped in a cardboard box that can be recycled. No one is perfect, and you would still be helping keep much more waste out of landfills by not purchasing disposable products instead.

10 Zero Waste Period Products

3. Smartliners Organic Reusable Pad

  • Made from 100% certified organic cotton
  • Ultra absorbent
  • Free of chemicals, weird odors, and plastics
  • Thoughtful packaging
  • Biodegradable at end of life

Tired of overpaying for pads each month? Try switching to these organic reusable pads. They’re made from 100% organic cotton and they’re completely washable and reusable. They’re just as absorbent as disposable ones, only without the toxic adhesives or plastic layers. Also, the Velcro is made from recycled polyester. There are 3 different types of pads to choose from: regular, heavy flow, or super heavy flow. Each is thicker than the other to ensure no leaking happens depending on your flow.

At the end of it’s life, just remove and discard the velcro, and then compost the cotton pad. Everything is packaged and shipped in recyclable cardboard, as well.

10 Zero Waste Period Products

4. Hevea Natural Rubber Menstrual Cup

  • Made from 100% natural rubber
  • Biodegradable
  • Non-toxic
  • Free of chemicals, phthalates, parabens and heavy metals
  • Thoughtful packaging
  • Plant based
  • Ethically sourced

This natural rubber menstrual cup is made from 100% natural rubber, meaning it was made with sap from Hevea rubber trees. It’s an eco-friendly alternative to synthetic rubber made from petroleum-based oil. Every cup is plant based and reusable for years to come. It’s FDA approved and free of parabens, chemicals, phthalates and heavy metals, as well. Also, this product is anti-suction, so it’s safe to wear with your IUD. It can be worn for up to 12 hours, comes in 3 sizes, and reduces reliance on single use period products.

Hevea’s natural rubber is non-toxic, biodegradable and plastic-free. This unique cup features a helpful loop stem that’s flexible, easy to use and extra comfortable. The packaging is made from FSC Certified paper and is entirely biodegradable.

10 Zero Waste Period Products

5. Cloth Menstrual Pad

  • Made from polyester and nylon
  • Free of perfume, chlorine and harsh chemicals
  • Thoughtful packaging
  • Reusable
  • Washable

I personally own these and love them – especially the cute pineapple design! They’re a great cloth menstrual pad option that Tiny Yellow Bunaglow sells (one of my fav zero waste stores ever). These pads are super comfortable and breathable compared to disposables.

They don’t carry the same risks of drying you out or giving you Toxic Shock Syndrome like tampons. Also, they’re free of harsh chemicals, chlorine and perfumes. You can choose between a pad with moderate absorbency or heavy absorbency- whichever works best for your flow. There are options to purchase a single pad or a set of 3 with a cute matching bag.

When you’re done using it, just rinse under running water, then place in a washing pail until ready to wash. These pads can be reused over and over again, helping your body your wallet.

10 Zero Waste Period Products

6. Lunette Menstrual Cup

  • Made from medical grade silicone
  • Free of chemicals, BPA and latex
  • Can be used for up to 2 years
  • Odorless
  • Thoughtful packaging

This menstrual cup by Lunette is made from soft medical grade silicone that’s soft and comfortable to wear during your time of the month.

There are two types of cups to choose from – Model 1 and Model 2. Model 1 is smaller and fit for those with a lighter/moderate flow or low cervix. Model 2 is great for those with a heavier flow or a high cervix.

Each cup is completely from of chemicals, BPA and latex. Like most menstrual cups, you can keep it in for up to 12 hours, day or night.

Rach Lunette cup comes with a carry pouch made from recycled bottles. They’re also packaged and shipped in zero waste, plastic-free, recyclable packaging.

10 Zero Waste Period Products

7. Glad Rags Cotton Pads

  • Made from 100% cotton
  • Reusable
  • Free of perfumes, toxins and harsh chemicals
  • Plastic-free
  • Thoughtful packaging

If you’re looking for a simple, reusable pad- Glad Rags has you covered with their 100% cotton pads. They’re ultrasoft and each box consists of a holder and two inserts. This way you can customize your pad’s absorbency. You can use both inserts for extra absorbency, or just use the holder for a thin liner. Since each pad is made from ethically sourced cotton, they’re free of perfumes, toxins and harsh chemicals.

Also, Glad Rags has a wide variety of pad styles and sizes to choose from, all of which differ in terms of absorbency, as well. These include: pantyliner, pantyliner plus, day pad, day pad plus, night pad, night pad plus, etc. There’s options for everyone!

The packaging is made of cardboard, which makes it recyclable and totally plastic free.

Glad Rags also sells XO Flo cups which are reusable menstrual cups you can wear for 12 hours at a time! There’s also an XO Flo Mini option for those with a lighter flow and/or lower cervix.

10 Zero Waste Period Products

8. Knix Period Underwear

  • Free from PFAS and other chemicals
  • Reusable
  • Washable
  • Varies in colors, styles and absorbency
  • Non-toxic

When you’re looking to purchase period underwear, it’s important to find the right pair for you. It’s an investment that will come to your aid every month. If you’re looking for a brand to trust, go with Knix period underwear. Each comfy, machine-washable pair features leakproof technology that absorbs various amount of liquid, depending on the style. It’s also super absorbent, moisture-wicking, odor-killing and quick drying. Knix comes in a variety of different colors and styles. There’s options for thongs, bikini style, boy shorts, high rise, and cheeky.

There are options for every body type. It’s 4-way stretch material conforms to your body and relaxes with wash and wear. It’s free of any harsh chemicals and PFAS, as well.

10 Zero Waste Period Products

9. DivaCup Menstrual Cup

  • Made from 100% Healthcare Grade Silicone
    Free of BPAs, dyes, rubber and added chemicals
  • Thoughtful packaging
  • 3 different sizes
  • Reusable
  • Zero Waste

DivaCup’s 100% healthcare grade silicone menstrual cup helps make your time of the month so much easier. It can be worn for up to 10-12 hours before being emptied, though it’s recommended you empty it between 2-3 times a day.

There are 3 different models to choose from: Model 0- recommended for those under 18 who are new to periods. Model 1- recommended for those under the age of 30 who have never delivered vaginally/have delivered via caesarean. Model 2- recommended for those over 30 and older and/or those who have delivered vaginally or via caesarean.

Each package is enclosed with a bag and a user guide. Also, every cup is stored and shipped in recyclable packaging.

10 Zero Waste Period Products

10. Ruby Love Period Underwear

  • Period-proof swimwear, sleepwear and activewear
  • Leak-proof protection
  • Black owned
  • Reusable
  • Up 2.5 tampons worth of absorbency
  • Washable
  • Free of PFAs, PULs, chemicals and nano-silver
  • Thoughtful packaging

These adorable period panties by Ruby Love come in a variety of different colors, shapes and styles. Depending on your flow, you can choose to wear them alone or with a pad/menstrual cup for extra protection.

According to Ruby Love, one pair of their underwear can save you from using 700 pads or 800 tampons. There’s different layers that each contribute to proper period protection, such as a leak resistant barrier, built-in absorbent cotton later, and a dri-tech mesh later that helps stop all side/back leaks. These panties are also great for preventing slips, chafing and embarrassing odors.

What’s even more amazing? They have period-proof teen, activewear, sleepwear and swimwear! I cannot believe someone invented a bikini I can actually wear in the pool during that time of the month. I’m blown away.

10 Zero Waste Period Products

What’s your favorite zero waste period products?

Sick of dealing with period pain? Check out How to Have A Zero Waste Period Without Cramps.

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By Ariana Storniolo (Palmieri)

Ariana Storniolo is the founder of Greenify-Me, a blog dedicated to zero waste and sustainability. Her work has also been featured on Going Zero Waste, Green Matters, Mother Earth Living and several other online publications.

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