So you're thinking of making the switch to reusable period products. Way to go! Switching to reusables is one of the greatest ways to reduce your single-use plastic waste, but there are other great benefits too. They’re healthier for your body than their disposable plastic counterparts, and they save you money (not to mention frantic trips to the drugstore).
Reusable period products have come a long way, and there are all sorts of options to choose from. It’s easier than ever to start reducing your waste. In this article, we’ll walk you through all the options, show you what to expect from them, and help you figure out which option is best for you.
First, let’s look at the environmental impact of disposable menstrual products.
Environmental impact of disposable pads and tampons
Pads are made of plastic and packaged in plastic, and tampons commonly have plastic applicators. All of this plastic adds up to a lot of waste. A person who menstruates can use between 5,000 and 15,000 pads and tampons in a lifetime, and create 400 pounds of waste from the packaging alone.
Apart from forming a stinking, unsightly pile of trash, single-use plastic waste is harmful to wildlife and aquatic life. Wildlife interacts with it, mistaking it for food. Additionally, the plastic enters the ocean and poisons vital waterways.
Switching to reusable period products prevents waste and also comes with lots of benefits. Think of it like Mother Nature thanking you for your good deeds!
Why we need to retire disposable pads and tampons
Not only are disposable pads and tampons filling up our landfills and oceans–they’re outdated and don’t function very well. Pads contain chemicals that irritate your skin, and the plastic wings with adhesive can also rub against your skin. Tampons are ridiculously inefficient, needing to be replaced every 2-4 hours. Who has time for that!?
Let’s take a look at common reusable period products and compare them all.
When the first silicone menstrual cups became commercially available in the early 2000s, they were a total game changer for periods. While tampons need to be changed every 2-4 hours, menstrual cups last 12.
The menstrual cup is a medical-grade silicone cup the size of a small egg that you fold in half and insert vaginally. The idea is that it “collects” instead of absorbs, and the cup creates an airtight seal, preventing leaks. The menstrual cup is a great clean option that just requires you to dump and rinse.
While the menstrual cup is still widely available, the cup isn’t an option for everyone. The stem can be quite irritating for people, and the suction aspect gives some folks the heebie-jeebies. We don’t carry traditional menstrual cups because we believe there are better options out there–like the menstrual disc!
Who it’s for: on-the-go types
The Nixit menstrual disc is similar to the cup in that it’s made of silicone and you fold it in half and insert it during menstruation. The disc is wide and shallow, unlike the menstrual cup, which is long and narrow. This design works better than the cup for a few reasons.
Because the disc doesn’t have the stem, there’s nothing poking or rubbing your insides.
The wider design gives more coverage and is better at preventing leaks than the traditional cup. Because it’s wider, it collects more liquid. This is better for people with very heavy flows. If you’re still worried about leaks, you can pair it with a reusable pad (more on that later).
Allows you to have sex while you’re wearing it
Because of the shallower design and lack of stem, it sits much closer to your cervix.
NOTE: Make sure you insert your menstrual disc with clean fingers, or you risk a UTI!
Reusable pads and liners
Who they’re for: those with heavy flows or unpredictable periods
Reusable pads are great if you’re a tried-and-true pad user. Humans are creatures of habit, and when we’re switching to new products, we like them to be as close to the original as possible. If you’re the kind of person who has a heavy flow and doesn’t trust their period when they’re out and about, it could be for you. It allows you to gauge what’s happening at all times, whereas cups and discs can cause sudden overflow leaks (and desperate sprints to the bathroom).
While a common myth persists that they’re stinky and gross, reusable pads are actually a lot less stinky than plastic disposables. When moisture comes in contact with the chemicals in the plastic, it makes them reek. Reusable pads also mean a lot less disposable pads piling up in your garbage can (the real stinker).
The best way to use reusable pads is to have a large collection of them. However many disposable pads you use in a cycle (15-20 for most), that’s how many you’ll need to buy. That way, you can wash them all at once at the end of your cycle for a hassle-free experience. To reduce odours, store your dirty pads in a wet bag until wash day.
We love the Lily Pad minky topped stain resistant pad!
Reusable period underwear
Reusable period undies are a great all-in-one solution. With the Happy Period Panties, the pad is essentially baked right into the underwear, negating the need for both. They’re incredibly absorbent, and they’re great if you’ve experienced the frustration of sliding pads. They're great for when you’re sleeping, too, when leaks are more likely to happen.
The downside is that if you’re out and about, it’s hard to change out of them and into a fresh pad. You’d need to take off your pants to remove period pants, which can be awkward in a small bathroom stall. But, if you’re a homebody or wearing them during sleep, they’re comfy as heck.
Kudos for switching to reusable period products! You’re about to find out how much better they work than disposables (and save a lot of money and plastic waste while you’re at it!).
Your reusable period products depend on your lifestyle. Maybe you’re a social butterfly or work long hours on your feet. Maybe you have an untrustworthy cycle and like the familiarity of pads. Or maybe you’re just plain lazy (it’s allowed when you’re on the period)! Whoever you are, there’s a reusable period product for you.
Head to our menstrual care section for all your reusable period products!