Sanitary products currently have a huge environmental impact. The Marine Conservation Society estimates that 4.8 pieces of menstrual waste are found per 100 metres of beach cleaned. Yuk, right? We get through approximately 20,000 tonnes of menstrual waste products in the UK per year. If you are concerned about the impact your natural cycle is having on the environment, find out more about the best eco friendly period products today.
Eco Friendly Period Products UK
As menstruation products have advanced, the impact on the planet has been devastating. But what are the alternatives to not using modern, disposable products? We all want a clean, easy as possible period, free from humiliation, stress, and mess!
We started looking into the sustainable period options available in the UK, and around the world, a couple of years ago. Since, we have tried a number of different products to help reduce our environmental footprint. Finding alternatives to disposables is easier than ever, so if you’re busy with a work schedule, social life and too many demands as it is, you’ll be thrilled to hear more environmentally friendly sanitary products are out there. You don’t have to compromise on what you do and where you go when it’s that time of the month either. We’ve got your ultimate greener period list right here, all tried and tested by us.
You may also like these 5 Ways to Reduce Single Use Plastic.
Disposable v Reusable
As you read through our favourite five products, it’s important to ask yourself a simple question; can you make your period products reusable instead of disposable? Or, can you at least make your period products more reusable than disposable? Hell, can you even make your period products a little bit more reusable than disposable? You don’t have to be up for washable sanitary towels and nothing else to reduce the disposable period products you use.
We recommend you start by making small changes initially, especially if you feel overwhelmed by the thought of changing you’re tried and trusted period care routine. Maybe you don’t feel comfortable changing the products you use at work, but you would be willing to try something reusable at the weekends. Or perhaps the thought of being active in reusable is not for you, but at night you would be willing to sleep in reusable items to see if they are good enough. Any positive change you can make to reduce disposable products helps.
Our 5 Best Eco Friendly Period Products
So here they are. We hope that these five easy to find and simple to use sanitary products help inspire you to make your menstrual cycle a little (or a lot) better for the planet, starting today.
1. Choose Organic Cotton
Great For: Women looking for a small change
If the thought of reusable products intimidates you and you feel more comfortable with disposable products, choose organic cotton. Don’t just pick up the cheapest tampons, the tampons on offer or the tampons you last saw advertised on TV. Check out the whole range of tampons available. You might be able to find a product that comes in recyclable packaging or tampons that are made of more sustainable materials.
Read the boxes of your tampons and get to know them more intimately. After all, considering where we put them, they should be made of high quality and safe materials. I started my greener period journey by purchasing organic cotton tampons. It’s not the greenest product out there because it’s still disposable, but it’s definitely better than many other items and one of the best options if you still need a disposable element to your period routine.
2. Make Reusable Pads
Great For: Women and girls looking to make periods more fun
If you’re prepared to make a bigger change in your life, reusable is definitely the way to go. Reusable pads are just one way to make your monthly menstrual cycle greener. Purchase them online from a small business or make your own! It’s easier than you think. In our family, my cousin Sonya has experimented with making her own sanitary towels for her teenage daughters and she has some great tips and recommendations for you.
“When I first started making reusable sanitary towels, I literally stuck a normal sanitary towel to a piece of paper, photocopied it and got a basic pattern, then I’d use this as a pattern to cut out fabric.”
“I gathered odds of fabric from around the house, things like old T-shirt’s (for top layer), old towels (for core layers) and fleece dressing gown (for base layer). Mainly, I used clothes the girls had outgrown or that were stained or damaged and would otherwise have gone in the bin. Then I discovered Facebook pages where they would give away free patterns so I started making them different shapes and sizes using these.”
“The beauty of making your own reusable sanitary towels is being able to make them a size that fits your body! One of my daughter’s is tiny so needed something quite narrow, whilst my other daughter is a fairly heavy bleeder so needed larger pads. I was also amazed to learn that us girls can either be front bleeders, rear bleeders or central bleeders. Making your own reusable pads is a great way to bespoke your period products to the style and length that matches your body.”
Sonya tells us more:
“Cleaning reusable sanitary towels is the bit that puts most people off. In our bathroom, we have a small bin which I fill with cold water when we have our periods. Once the pad is used, we put it in the bin to soak in the water until we are ready to wash them. The cold water soaking removes most of the blood. When I then go to wash them (every couple of days) I rinse them out with fresh water before they go in the washing machine. Apparently, it’s important not to use fabric conditioner when you wash them as it makes them lose their absorbency. Then they go on the line to dry! My neighbours must wonder what on earth I have drying on my line; it’s really funny to see a line of them blowing in the wind!”
Loving the benefits:
“Once I started researching the reusable sanitary towels, I liked the other benefits too. I read that they can help heavy/painful periods as disposable pads have a lot of chemicals in them (to wick away moisture and disguise smells, so I hoped it would help with heavier periods. The environmental factor was a huge benefit too. Now we are helping to reduce landfill waste.”
“The girls mainly use them at home. When out and about, you would need a ‘wet bag’ to keep the dirty ones in for taking home to wash. My youngest daughter changes into a homemade reusable one as soon as she gets home from school. She says they are so much more comfortable than disposable ones. They also don’t have the ‘scrunchy’ sounds that the disposable ones have … or the smell.”
“Lastly, although we have no proof, when we first started using the cloth ones my eldest daughter had really heavy and painful periods every 2 weeks. Now, they are much less heavy and painful and occur almost every 4 weeks. She also finds that leaks are less frequent, especially at night. I like to believe that mummy’s home made reusable sanitary pads have something to do with it. They are so easy to make that even my 13 year old daughter has made one herself.”
Find more information on how to make your own reusable sanitary towels now on YouTube.
Start saving money on your family’s periods today. Contact Harriet via the Bloody Beautiful CSP Facebook Page now.
3. Buy A Menstrual Cup
Great For: Women who prefer tampons
If you’ve always been keener on tampons than sanitary towels, a menstrual cup could be the natural progression for you. Since purchasing my own menstrual cup two years ago, I have saved around £250 when compared to buying disposable tampons that end up in the bin. If you’re not sure, don’t worry. The menstrual cup tends to look more intimidating than it really is.
The menstrual cup is easily manipulated for insertion, yet robust enough for a secure hold. You can choose different sizes depending on the shape of your body and the weight of your flow. You may find insertion takes a little getting used to but stick with it. It’s all about finding the right position for your menstrual cup to feel comfortable and be effective. This excellent YouTuber offers great advice for ladies keen to learn about how best to use their menstrual cup.
Having switched over to a menstrual cup, saving all those tampons from going to waste, you may find that depending on where you are, what you are doing and how heavy your flow is, you might need a little extra support alongside your menstrual cup. For example, the menstrual cup is easier to change in a bathroom with a sink so I always look for a disabled loo when we’re out and about using my cup. This way, the cup can be rinsed with water and re-inserted. If you really don’t have a loo like this as an option, a regular toilet is also do-able, simply use tissue to clean the cup before reinserting.
We used the menstrual cup for the very first time on a 4WD day tour to Fraser Island with no regular toilets available and still managed just fine, including going swimming in the cup too! You may find it practical to carry some spare tissues or wipes with you, or we know some women who carry a 2nd cup to change into and a waterproof bag for storing the dirty cup until they are home. Although this option helps reduce tampons, it may increase other disposable products like paper tissues, wipes (which should never be put down the toilet) and/or plastic bags to store used cups in.
Start saving money on your periods by purchasing your first menstrual cup for just £12.99 today.
4. Relax With Period Pants
Great For: Women who prefer sanitary towels
Similar to reusable pads but built into knickers, we then also discovered period pants and now have what we consider the most perfect reusable period routine. Period pants are like regular knickers with a built-in sanitary pad. Period pants come in all shapes, colours and sizes so it’s just a matter of working out what looks and feels great for you.
Period pants can be rinsed out and hand washed after use, then re-used over and over again. They are designed to be used on their own for your period, in the same way you would use the reusable sanitary towels. We personally prefer using the menstrual cup because we’ve always preferred tampons over pads, but we have actually found a combination of menstrual cup and period pants is our favourite green period routine. The period pants work well when combined with a menstrual cup for heavier flow days or days out when a suitable bathroom might not be on hand.
I personally own two pairs of period pants and use them on my first two heaviest days of my cycle, along with my menstrual cup. This means if I have inserted the cup wrongly or it overflows, my pants will save the day. This combination gives me added peace of mind. Prices start from £28 so after just 3 months, they’ve paid for themselves when compared to disposable sanitary pads. Plus, they can be used over and over again, helping me to avoid the disposable products I previously used alongside my menstrual cup, like wipes and panty liners.
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5. Avoid Drugs
Great For: Women looking to understand their bodies better
Medication is of course another product that we may purchase more frequently or use more of during our monthly cycles. If you can, avoid using chemicals and drugs as part of your monthly menstrual routine. Not only does this create more disposable packaging but harmful chemicals for us and the environment exist in almost all medication that you might be tempted to use, from ibuprofen to contraceptive pills. Ultimately, this medication ends up in our water systems and can negatively impact the environment, not to mention what it arguably does to our bodies.
Don’t automatically reach for the painkillers when heavy period cramps or intense migraines strike as there are a whole host of natural remedies that can work well, if not better. Most importantly, drugs silence pains and symptoms that are important messages from your body. There are many natural ways to feel better during your period, from drinking extra water for headaches to using a variety of heat methods to ease cramps.
Find more natural remedies for your menstrual cycle with our upcoming blog – 10 Natural PMT Remedies – subscribe today and we’ll send it straight to your email inbox when it’s published.
More Sustainable Period Options
So whether you’re just starting your greener period journey or are yet to find the item(s) that work best for you, be inspired to try more environmentally conscious reusable products wherever possible. Remember, even a small decrease in disposable items is a step in the right direction so don’t feel like you have to change your entire routine overnight.
It can take time to build confidence in reusable products and to find the right times to trial new things. Make a small alteration to your routine today with the best eco friendly period products out there and help be part of a global change that reduces period waste today.
Are you looking for more ways to reduce single use plastic? Find tips and ideas on 31 easy plastic free swaps now.
Please Note: The opinions given here are based on personal experience and practise. The Natural Essex Girl is not a qualified medical practitioner. Consult your doctor for professional medical advice.