Zero Waste Period: Reusable Pads + Period Underwear

zero waste period

Having a zero waste period isn’t hard. You just need to figure out what works for you. There are several options available on the market, but my personal favorites include reusable pads and period underwear from Lunapads. These two items are life changers, and I’m not exaggerating. Before I made the switch to reusables, I would go through one-and-a-half packs of disposable pads every month. Each pack had about 24 pads in them. So, in other words, I was sending about 36 pads to the landfill in just one period cycle. The plastic in disposable pads take hundreds of decompose too, so they’ll be around for a while. Plastic never truly goes away: It will just become micro-plastic and continuously leech into the environment. That thought alone was enough to make me switch to reusables. Now, I no longer have to worry I’m polluting the environment simply for being a woman.

Reusable pads and period underwear are also better for your health. Think about this: Disposable pads are made out of plastics, cotton, wood pulp, artificial fragrances and synthetic fibers. Not to mention, conventionally grown cotton is one of the most toxic crops around. According to the Rodale Institute, cotton growers use 16 percent of the world’s pesticides. If that’s not bad enough, disposable pads are also bleached with chlorine dioxide, which creates polluting and harmful bio-accumulative by products, like dioxin. When these chemicals enter the environment and body, they remain there for decades. Is that really a product you want near such a sensitive, private area? I know I don’t. All those chemicals can lead to a number of health problems, like allergic reactions, hormone disruption and even reproductive issues. If that’s not a reason to switch over to a zero waste period, then I’ve got one more reason for you.

Not only do reusables save the environment and your health, they also save you money in the long run. Remember how I said I used to go through one-and-a-half packs of disposable pads every month? Each pack costed me approximately $8, excluding tax. That amount certainly adds up: At the end of the year, I was dishing out at least $192 on disposable pads. Crazy, right? Well, not anymore. I’ve been using reusables for a full year and several months now. Sure, it’s an initial investment up front, but it’s worth it. The reusables literally pay for themselves over time, considering they last so long. It’s a one time purchase that will last you anywhere from three to five years (maybe longer) if kept in good condition. So, if I keep all my reusables for five years, I’d be saving a whopping $960 I would’ve spent on disposables. That’s incredible.

Now I ask you…are you ready to make the switch?

This post is kindly sponsored by Lunapads. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.


Zero Waste Period

Here are two of my favorite ways to have a zero waste period: Reusable pads and period underwear! If you’re interested in switching to a zero waste menstrual cycle, you definitely need to hear what I have to say about these products! I explain what they are, how I use them, how to clean them, and how they’re packaged! All of these products were given to me by Lunapads, and I’ve tried them myself. I’d never recommend a product I didn’t 100 percent love, so I can confidently say you need to give these a go.

zero waste period

Reusable pads
Personally, I love my reusable pads. I’ve never liked tampons, so anything that required insertion was immediately out of the equation.

Lunapads was kind enough to let me try out some of their Performa pads. I’m obsessed. Not only are they super comfortable, but they’re also impressively absorbent. All you need to do is snap them onto your underwear and you’re good to go. 

If you’re out and need to change your pad, just place the used one in a wet bag. You can store this in your purse efficiently. 

There are several kinds of Performa pads that Lunapads offers. I tried these three:

zero waste period

Cute and small, these pads are meant to replace disposable panty liners. They’re good to use when your flow is very light. I like to use them at the end of my flow when I’m basically winding down and just spotting a bit. 

zero waste period

These have the absorbency of three disposable pads. That means one Performa maxi pad will last you several hours. They’re ideal for average to heavy menstrual flow. You can even wear them to help protect against bladder leaks! It provides full coverage.

zero waste period

This pad is honestly a god send. It’s the most absorbent out of all the Performa Pads and is built for overnight protection. I put this on right before bed and woke up to absolutely no leaks or stains. It was beautiful. 

Cleaning and caring for reusable pads

zero waste period

According to Lunapads, with proper care, these Performa Pads should last me several years. Their estimate is three to five years, though some people have been using the same pads for 10 years! That’s mighty impressive, if you ask me. Total goals too.

There’s honestly not much to caring and cleaning them. It’s pretty straight forward.
Here’s how I care for my pads:

  • Before using, I made sure to wash the pads. You can hand wash them or machine wash them. I washed them by hand and used my homemade zero waste detergent to get the job done. Never use chlorine bleach or fabric softener to clean the pads, as this will shorten the life of your pads.

  • After use, I make sure to rinse them out in the sink under cold water. I ring out as much blood as I can. You can also soak them in cold water: If you choose to soak them prior to washing, use a clean container and don’t soak for more than 24 hours. I usually let mine soak anywhere from an hour to three hours. If you cannot immediately rinse or soak your pads because you’re out and about, place them in a wet bag you can store in your purse.

  • Hand or machine wash the pads in hot water, using a natural detergent. You can also wash them with your regular laundry, if you wish. Just make sure you keep them seperate so they’re easier to find (putting them in a lingerie bag works great). 

  • You can put them in the dryer, but I personally prefer hang drying them. It may sound silly, but I use hangers with clips to hang dry my pads. I just clip them on and put the hanger on a hook. Done. It also saves electricity!

  • Store in a clean, dry place. I like to keep all my pads in a cute little bin with flowers on it I got from Michael’s a few years ago. But hey, that’s just me.


zero waste period

Another reason to love Lunapads? They’re super zero waste friendly, even down to their packaging. When I received my set of Performa Pads, they came to me completely plastic free. 

It came in a cardboard box, and each pad type (liner, maxi, super) was encased in its own small cardboard box. There’s even a little note saying “printed on 100 percent post consumer recycled, chlorine free paper. Please recycle.” That’s just awesome.

I certainly will be recycling these boxes! Either that, or adding them to the compost heap. 


Period underwear

zero waste period

Along with my reusable pads, Lunapads also gave me another amazing product: Period underwear. I’ve heard of many zero waste bloggers talk about the magic that is period panties, but never got a chance to try them. Not until recently, that is.

Man have I been missing out! I literally felt so magical wearing this underwear. Lunapads is a genius for designing these. In many ways, I like them even better than the pads!

Period underwear can be worn on their own, but it also comes with an insert which provides extra protection. I wore my period underwear for at least 7 hours and it did not leak once. Yes, you read that correctly: Seven hours. Completely leak free. 

You can change the insert throughout the day, if you have a very heavy flow, so you never have to change your underwear. If you have a lighter flow, you may not even need the insert for this underwear to work its magic. I personally just wore the same insert all seven hours and had no problem what so ever.

zero waste period

This is the kind of Lunapads period underwear I received. They’re super comfortable and they have the absorbency of two disposable pads. Mine is a size medium (37 – 38.5”) but they come in multiple different sizes (here’s a size chart that can help you find your perfect fit). It came with an insert.

Cleaning and caring for period underwear:

Just like reusable pads, period underwear is pretty simple to care for. It has to be washed and dried in a similar fashion to the pads. 

Here’s how I care for my period underwear:

  • Before use, I washed my period underwear using my zero waste laundry detergent by hand and let them hang dry. 
  • After use, I rinsed the undies and insert in cold water, ringing out the blood. Then I let them soak for a bit in a bin of cold water (about an hour or so). 
  • Next, I washed the period underwear using my natural DIY laundry detergent by hand. You can also machine wash them. If you machine wash them, be sure to keep them in a lingerie bag so they don’t get lost with everything else. Never use chlorine bleach or fabric softener to clean the panties, as this will shorten its life. 
  • It’s recommended you hang dry the period panties, which is exactly what I did. I use clothing hangers with clips on it to hang dry my period underwear.


zero waste period

My period underwear came to me wrapped in tissue paper I plan to reuse. It was in the same box as my Performa Pads, so no plastic was present. I’m going to recycle the box all of my Lunapads goodies came in. There was a big sticker on the tissue paper that I had to gently remove, but it doesn’t mean the tissue paper will go to waste.



zero waste period

Personally, this is what I use to keep my period waste free. I hope it inspires you to find something that works for you. You’ll be doing your health and the environment a huge favor! 

If you decide to switch to a zero waste period, I recommend getting at least two Performa maxi pads, one Performa super pad, and one period underwear for the ultimate protection. You can also try one of Lunapads’ kits (super helpful if you’re not sure how many pads you’ll need to have a comfortable period).

Lunapads also offers several different styles of leakproof period underwear from boxers to bikini cuts. They offer a variety of sizes to choose from so you can find your perfect fit.

Along with my Lunapads, I also have a set of older cloth pads to fall back on. I’ve been using the older set for a year and a half now. This enables me to have a nice, comfortable period. I’ve never had to reach for a disposable pad since making the switch.

Have you tried cloth pads or period underwear yet? What works for you?

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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