5 Natural & Environmentally Friendly Solutions For Your Period

tips and facts for your period problems, natural and environmental solutions for your period, green period products, #period, #periodsolutions, #periodproblems, #periodhacks, #periodtips

This post is in partnership with Hancock Regional Hospital as part of their empowering women and children site. All thoughts, experiences, and opinions are my own. Be sure to check out their site for additional resources and support.


FUN FACT: The average woman uses over 10,000 feminine hygiene products over the course of her life! That’s a lot of waste (like over 300 lbs to be exact).

Most of the tampons and pads we were handed as budding women are actually full of harmful chemicals! You see, according to a Time article, “tampons are considered medical devices, there’s no labeling requirement for ingredients…So for allergens or chemicals linked to cancer or other toxicity, even if you want to avoid them you can’t because you can’t see them.”

Seriously, pause to think about it, what are the most common feminine products made of? How do they get tampons so WHITE (cough*bleach*cough)? And then we are taking these things full of chemicals and putting them into one of the thinnest, most absorbent layers of our skin! But I’m going to leave the scary stuff up to the actual doctors (read all about it here).

Aside from the harmful chemicals found in traditional pads and tampons the waste they create is often times one of the most harmful to our environment: plastic.

FUN FACT #2:  The ocean is estimated to have more plastic than fish in it by 2050! (proof)

A few years ago, I heard a horrible story about a women who had her leg amputated due to toxic shock syndrome (TSS). Between learning more about the harmful chemicals in feminine products, and learning more about the environmental impact they’re having, I decided to look into alternative feminine hygiene products that were both natural and environmentally friendly.

 

Here’s what I found as the most popular, natural, and environmentally friendly options available for your period:

Period Underwear:

BLESS! Thinx were the first product I tried and I LOVE them. I’ve been using them for three years now and tell everyone about them. I also tried one of their competitors, Dear Kates. Both are built around the same concept: underwear with special fabric that absorbs your period. To clean them you simply rinse in the sink, wash in cold water and hang dry and continue to reuse them!

The products have a different fit and feel though. Thinx are a little tighter. I typically wear either a small or medium in underwear and their medium feels a little snug. Thinx have a thick, sturdy, and secure feel to them. They make their garments with a single inner and a single outer layer, meaning the entire garment feels consistent, and has a smooth finish. Thinx are the black options pictured below.

Dear Kates run a little larger. I received a medium and could’ve used a small. The material is also not consistent throughout. The part that’s “period proof” is thicker and stitched into the thinner outer layer, which means you can see the lines of the period proofed layer stitched in. As a result of the different layers stitched together like this, the butt kind of reminds me of a diaper.

TAKEAWAY:

Both options are ultimately more cost effective than tampons and pads, and environmentally friendly! Thinx look more like everyday underwear from the outside. With Thinx, I never feel embarrassed walking around in them, whereas with Dear Kates, due to their stitching of the period proof portion into the garment, it’s obvious there’s something going on in there. If you order Thinx stay true to size or size up if you’re between sizes, and with Dear Kates size down. Both get the job done though, so go with whichever is cheaper if you don’t care about the aesthetics.

Cost of Period Underwear:

One pair of underwear can run you between $18-35 – so building a period set can cost you around $150, but I’ve been using my same pairs of Thinx for 3 years and they are still in amazing shape and going strong.

Environmental footprint of Period Underwear:

1 pair of underwear seems like it’ll last at least five years, so that’s zero waste per period for all that time!

Menstrual Cup

Diva cup, Moon Cup, the Lunette, and the Keeper are just a few out there.The basic concept is that you take the silicon cup, squeeze the sides and insert it at the base of your vagina. Most cups come in two sizes: if you’ve given vaginal birth and if you haven’t. They typically only need to be changed once every 12 hours and have zero waste. It does take most women a few months to get used to the inserting and pulling out process, and many women suggest timing the change of your cup to when you’re home (like 7 am and 7 pm) so that way you don’t have to worry about cleaning it out in a public restroom.

Cost of Menstrual Cup:

These will typically run you around $30-40, but they last 10 years! So it’s a HUGE cost savings compared to tampons and pads. Unlike period underwear, you only need one of these, not a set, so it’s definitely your cheapest option on the list.

Environmental footprint of Menstrual Cup:

1 last for about 10 years, zero waste per period for that long. Probably your lowest environmental footprint option too!

Sea Sponge

Sea sponges are exactly what they sound like, the sponges you find in the sea (sorry Spongebob!). They’ve actually been used for thousands of years! They work just like tampons, but without the harmful chemicals AND you reuse them! You simply rinse the sponge, ring out the excess water, and insert. Once the sponge is full, you’ll put it out, rinse it thoroughly, ring out the water and re-insert. The caution here is obviously it’s tough to change in public.

Cost of Sea Sponge:

Prices vary from $3-15 per sponge

Environmental footprint of Sea Sponge:

You can use the same sponge throughout your period, and it should last you about six months. But since it’s literally a natural material it’s 100% biodegradable

 

Cloth Pads

These are typically more absorbent than traditional pads and you can adjust their absorbency. Most women state loving them. TBH, I’ve never tried them because I hate pads. They just never sit in my underwear correctly and while women say these are much more discrete feeling than traditional pads we all probably received growing up, I just have no interest in testing them out when I have period underwear.

Cost of Cloth Pads:

It’ll probably cost you between $80-160 to build up your set. Since the pads need to be rinsed, cleaned, and dried after each use you’ll probably need at least 8-10 if you have a period that last 4 days. But after the upfront cost of building your set, the price will go down to nothing for future periods.

Environmental footprint of Cloth Pads:

A cloth pad should last for at least five years

 

Organic Tampons

Okay, so if you’re totally weirded out by all the options above (which are 100% better for the environment than traditional tampons and pads) but you just can’t bite the bullet then at least go for organic tampons.

Skip the plastic applicators and choose cardboard — or better yet, opt for applicator free tampons! There are tons of subscription boxes out there today like Lola and Ellebox. I’ve only tried Ellebox of these options and I didn’t care for their cardboard applicators. Some pushed out fine, but others would get stuck and I had to take it out of the applicator and just put it in (like you would an applicator free option). They do offer bio-plastic applicators which are made from 90% sugar cane and 10% plastic and more environmentally friendly, but I haven’t tried that option.

TAKEAWAY:

If you do have to use tampons, opt for organic, chemical free, applicator free options to minimize the chemicals you’re putting in contact with your body and waste. But keep in mind, that tampons are not required to label all the chemicals, so even if it’s organic or cotton it might still have some nasty stuff in it!

Cost of Organic Tampons:

The average box of 36 tampons costs $7

Environmental footprint of Organic Tampons:

The average woman uses 20 tampons per cycle!! So thats the wrapper, applicator, and then actual tampon all adding to your environmental footprint, times TWENTY!

 

So let’s say “good-bye” to the harmful stuff and hello to natural and environmentally friendly products for our periods!

Personally, I love period underwear, they feel like any other day of the week and I don’t have to worry about inserting or pulling anything out. If I have something going on where I might want to feel more “secure” (like a long walk or workout in public) I’ll use a cup or tampon during the day while out and about, but then right back into my period underwear when I get home. If I’m doing light activities (like just sitting in a meeting) I’ll wear period underwear.

If you still have more questions about what’s going on down there, make sure to check out Hancock Regional’s Guide To Birth Control and How To Prepare For Your First Pap Smear.


Want more self care? Download TCM’s Positive Self Talk Worksheet Now!


RELATED READS:

6 Months After Using Those Weird Period Underwear: THINX

9 Fears About Pregnancy [+ Why It’s Okay]

Why I’m Scared To Have Kids [+ How I’m Working Through It]

What Happens To Your Body When You Go Off Birth Control?

Millennials, This Is What You Need To Understand About Healthcare

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  • Katherine
    January 17, 2018 at 8:18 am

    I’m so glad you wrote about this because it blows my mind how much waste we create with our monthly cycle! I get actual anxiety thinking about the oceans and all of the plastic (reason #1 I’m on the board of our Surfrider chapter now). I recently switched to Lola (I love that they are delivered straight to my door!) but I’ve been going back and forth on Thinx and now I’ll DEFINITELY try them out!

    • [email protected] Confused Millennial
      January 17, 2018 at 9:49 am

      RIGHT?!? Over 300lb if you had literally the most pristine period experience (like started at 13, ends at 45 and only lasts 4 days per month)!! And i think people forget that most pads have plastic in them unless you opt for cloth! And that type of plastic is what ends up breaking down into micro plastics which end up in our oceans! And i didn’t know you were on your surfrider chapter! I want to do that!! – Definitely look into thinx and even a cup! They are both awesome options!

  • Rachel at RKCSouthern blog
    January 17, 2018 at 11:41 am

    I am SO on board with figuring out how to make this inconvenience as unimpactful on a woman’s life as possible! Seriously such a pain to deal with!

  • April | The Blue Hydrangeas
    January 17, 2018 at 11:45 am

    This is such a helpful post! I’ve had four kids and things aren’t “right” down there after that any more. About the only thing that works for me is a very short menstrual cup.

    • [email protected] Confused Millennial
      January 17, 2018 at 2:50 pm

      Ahh thank you for your honestly! that’s so good to know that you have a solution though! I hope more women come forward and talk about these types of solutions and how they help them!

  • Hannah @ AndThenWeTried
    January 17, 2018 at 11:47 am

    I LOVE my DivaCup! I sing its praises to anyone who will listen haha. I initially bought it for a trip to Thailand (where tampons are rare) and ended up loving it so much that I’ve been using for almost a year now.

  • Lily Ayala
    January 17, 2018 at 11:58 am

    Wow — I had no idea how much waste we create. That’s sad. I also did not know about period underwear or a sponge!! I really need to do my research.

    • [email protected] Confused Millennial
      January 17, 2018 at 2:48 pm

      YES! And that 300 lb is honestly a minimum estimate based off like someone getting her period at 13 and it ending at 45 and it only lasting like 4 days a month! Soooo it’s probably higher! It’s SUCH an easy switch to cut waste and ultimately save money!

  • Laila
    January 17, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    With so many great alternatives out there I’m baffled that people are still using traditonal pads and tampons! Women can help themselves and the planet by option for these natural and organic alternatives – they can also save some serious money because these products are reusable!

  • Farrah
    January 17, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    I’ve heard of Thinx and have been super curious about them! I got my set of cloth pads on etsy for about $45 back in 2011 and they’re still working really well! :] (I also got a DivaCup last year just for variation!) So glad to know there are so many awesome alternatives out there!

  • Audrey White
    January 17, 2018 at 4:11 pm

    I’ve been using the DivaCup for about 2 years and I recommend it to everyone! I can’t believe that some women I know are still using the standard pads/tampons because they’re so much less comfortable/sanitary/natural!

  • Paxton K
    January 17, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    This is perfect timing because I’m starting my period in a couple of days 😂.. I have been definitely thinking about ways I can reduce my carbon footprint in the world and it’s crazy how our monthly cycle can damage the planet. I one time watched a youtube video of a woman testing out a period swimsuit! I was curious if you ever heard of it? Keep up the good work!
    Cheers,
    Paxton K.

  • Kristen Jones
    January 17, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    I totally don’t think that I’d be able to use any of the alternatives. I get super queasy and so I think it would gross me out LOL! BUT, I do use all organic tampons!

  • Felicia Renee
    January 17, 2018 at 8:29 pm

    I’ve wanted to try Thinx for a while now, but I don’t know why I won’t do it. I need to get over it and try them on a weekend when I’m home the entire time.

  • Rachel @ STCL
    January 17, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    Wow I had no idea about several of these! And over 10k hygiene products?! Yikes! I’m really curious about that underwear. I’m off to do some more research on them!

  • Jenny
    January 17, 2018 at 10:02 pm

    I’m interested in trying Lola tampons because I don’t want to be putting that junk in my body lol. The Thinx sound like a good option too.

  • Nicole Green
    January 17, 2018 at 10:34 pm

    I’ve never thought about how much waste periods create, but I’ve been interested in trying the period underwear so I’m glad to hear you love yours!

  • Bella B @ xoxoBella
    January 17, 2018 at 11:16 pm

    I just had my period, Ill have to save this post for next time!! I just got an IUD and its the best thing ever.

  • Becky Bush
    January 17, 2018 at 11:29 pm

    This article is SO unique and amazing! I absolutely love it! And so informative. We SHOULD be so careful about what we put in our bodies! XO Becky

  • Erica @ Coming up Roses
    January 18, 2018 at 9:14 am

    A.) I had no clue how harmful tampons could really be – yikes! Now I’m totally freaked out. Ha!
    B.) I’m thiiiiiiis close to trying Thinx – I’m on the fence!!

  • Jae (@gorjaeous)
    January 18, 2018 at 11:40 am

    At some point this year, this is something I need to look into. I’ve never tried any other ways besides using a sanitary pad (not even tampons), and lately I’ve been getting rashes from synthetic materials. Thanks for sharing this awesome resource!

  • Alix Maza
    January 18, 2018 at 11:55 am

    Interesting! I’ve always wanted to try period underwear so I’ll give Thinx a go!

  • Mistle
    January 18, 2018 at 1:10 pm

    I have so been looking into trying out the Diva Cup. I honestly hate having to buy feminine products every month. Thankfully my periods aren’t overly crazy. That sponge sounds quite interesting to be honest! Also I have heard about those types of underwear but was afraid that I would bleed through them. This is an awesome post girl!

    • [email protected] Confused Millennial
      January 18, 2018 at 2:31 pm

      Thank you! Lol I thought the same thing about sea sponges, and haven’t tried them! But 100% you won’t bleed through period underwear. I’ve honestly worn a pair for an entire day and been fine. And it all absorbs in so you don’t see or feel anything, it’s really just like wearing underwear! And EVERYONE I talk to swears by their cup!

  • Grace
    January 18, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    This article was so interesting to read! I definitely need to try a more environmentally friendly solutions for my period!

  • Katie
    January 19, 2018 at 1:03 am

    I just wrote about my DivaCup! I love it! It’s like I’m not even having my period. The only complaint I have about it is that I forget it’s there! I hope I never have to use those wasteful products ever again!

  • Mary O
    January 19, 2018 at 1:03 am

    Yesss! I love that you are posting about this! I have been using my menstrual cup for going on two years now and it has been a total game changer. I love it. So many great options out there!

    xxx,
    Mary

  • Kiara Catanzaro
    January 19, 2018 at 6:30 am

    I’ve heard so many things about the diva cup but I haven’t taken the plunge myself to try it out. But it’s amazing how much waste we produce with regular tampons and pads and that does affect our environment. Thanks for sharing your facts and suggestions for alternative opinions!

  • Melissa Cruz
    January 19, 2018 at 10:42 am

    This is interesting! I just knew about two of these options. I’m not sure if I’m ready for this though. I do want to learn more about them because they are great options and women are loving it so for sure i will give them a try. Great post!

  • thesophiadiaries
    January 19, 2018 at 1:23 pm

    thanks so much for sharing! I’ve been thinking about getting thinx despite their cost, but I feel like it’ll be too weird haha i’m just used to using pads xD

  • Megan Nichole @ LaziMILLENNIAL
    January 19, 2018 at 3:40 pm

    I’m SO here for the cup. Started using Lunette about 5 years ago and never looked back. Just be careful about using cups if you have an IUD. Different cup brands have different recommendations if the woman has an IUD.

  • Gold Clutter
    January 19, 2018 at 9:27 pm

    I didn’t know some of these facts. I’m glad you’re using your platform to discuss such an important issue.

  • Ashley Vickney
    January 20, 2018 at 4:30 pm

    This is so informative! Thank you for this, it’s made me re-think my period haha!

  • Audrey Knizek
    January 22, 2018 at 11:21 am

    I love that are so many alternative options to pads and tampons these days. My favorite on this list is definitely the Thinx underwear. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Shannon
    January 22, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    I have been wanting to try the cup but I’ve been so nervous! I think I’m going to order one and try it next month.

  • Logan Elizabeth Abbott
    January 22, 2018 at 4:11 pm

    I’ve really been wanting to try a menstrual cup but I’ve been too scared of the investment and how long the adjustment period is (no pun intended)! I really do need to come up with a more affordable option than tampons though, and after four months the cup will pay for itself so I think it’s time to take the plunge!

  • Danielle Randall
    January 23, 2018 at 10:17 am

    Thanks for the recommendations. I have been wanting to research other alternatives.

  • Cameron
    January 23, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    All of these are such great options and I really like how you talked about the pro/cons of each. I definitely need to give the cup a try – but after getting my IUD in, I’m worried the “strings” will get in the way. Definitely checking out the cotton tampon companies you mentioned though!

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