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Zero Waste would be an amazing achievement. Even if we all took a few small steps, the impact on our environment would be huge. But what would it take to have a zero-waste period?
In the Western world, we take flushable toilets for granted. But unfortunately for the planet and for marine life, the sanitary waste we flush down our loos has had a devastating effect on ecology. And unless we take action, it will continue to do so. From fatbergs – solid masses of sanitary waste, wet wipes, and nappies – (there’s one in a London sewer that’s the length of 2 football pitches!) to plastic tampon applicators that are literally swamping our oceans, disposable sanitary products are an eco-nightmare.
Zero Waste Period
Most women in the developed world will throw away over 15,000 disposable sanitary items in a lifetime. It’s ironic when you consider that women in the Third World are struggling to get their hands on the most basic of sanitary products. Environmentalists have warned that the detrimental impact on the environment is almost impossible to measure, especially since some disposable sanitary products may take as long as 500 years to fully decompose. Disposable products may also have an effect on our health as they contain potentially harmful synthetic fragrances and bleaching agents such as chlorine dioxide. In particular, bleach produces dioxins a toxic byproduct which has been shown to cause allergic reactions and hormone disruptions.
But it’s not all bad news. There are now plenty of eco-friendly alternatives that we can use to reduce sanitary waste and to make periods as waste-free as possible. Better for our environment and for our health, re-usable and non-disposable sanitary products cost less in the longterm too. When you consider that most of us spend around £10,000 in our lifetime on sanitary products, I’m delighted to report that I have found cost-effective alternatives that really do work! Here are the best of the bunch that I’ve trialled.
Unlike traditional tampons, menstrual cups ‘hold’ blood, rather than absorb it. Made from medical-grade silicone, they are help in place by suction. I’ve been using a menstrual cup for a while, but as awareness for zero-waste periods grows, there are now so many menstrual cup designs to chose from.
My periods tend to be heavier in the first few days and what I love about menstrual cups that they have a bigger capacity than a tampon – they hold 3 tampons worth of blood! This makes my life so much easier and less time worrying about changing. And I don’t have to worry about leaks (which I always had using tampons,) when I am out and about, or when I’m busy at work.
The Evo Cup is also so comfortable. The rim sits on the vaginal wall, applying a bit of pressure which also helps to reduce cramps. YES! Menstrual cups can help reduce cramps (which I always suffered from before when using traditional products.) The Evo Menstrual Cup is incredible value, and also comes in a pretty pouch, so it’s very easy to pop it in your handbag or pocket and carry it around. This makes my life so much easier and less time worrying about changing!
How to clean your menstrual cup
Pixie Cup Steamer
Cleansing menstrual cups is fairly quick and easy. I prefer to steam clean mine as it kills 99.9% of bacteria in 3 minutes flat!
You can also use a microwave to clean your cup, although I do not recommend microwaves for cooking purposes. This one is very handy for both cleaning and storing your cup hygienically too.
Eco Lily® 6 Pack Reusable Cloth Sanitary Towels with Bamboo Charcoal
Despite claims that many mainstream disposable pads are biodegradable, most end up in landfill, in the sewage system, or in the oceans, and if they are labelled as biodegradable, they may take years to degrade. By swapping to reusable pads, we really are reducing our impact on the environment.
It’s just a case of finding the right alternative that works for you and once you get used to the idea, it’s really not that much of a fuss to wash and dry your towels.
These cloth sanitary towels have embedded bamboo charcoal to neutralize odours and the outer layer is waterproof. One size is made to fit all and they are easy to put in your underwear. Simply fold the wings around your pants and snap into place.
How to wash your reusable towels
ZCoins Reusable Sanitary Towels
There are 10 towels in this pack which I think is amazing value! I love the designs and they come also come with a pretty carrying case that fits neatly in your handbag. Soak the towels before you pop them in the washing machine. I always put mine in a wash bag to save them getting lost!
Zero Waste Wuka Pants
I have always had a set of fairly drab looking pants that I call my ‘period pants’ and that are reserved for ‘that time of the month’! So discovering Wuka Pants has been life-changing. Super-stylish, they look so much better than my previous Bridget Jones-style big knickers and they are great for women who don’t have access to private toilet facilities, perhaps at school or work. They also save you having to take your handbag to the toilet (which is always a bit cringe!). These pants are also great for women who play sports as there is no visible bulge.
Wuka pants hold up to 4 tampons worth of blood at a time and can be worn for up to 8 hours without changing.
How to wash your Wuka Pants
Simply rinse then machine wash at 40 degrees, line dry and they can be reused again and again.
Organyc Sanitary Pads
All Organ(y)c products are certified Organic Vegan and Cruelty-free, as well as being biodegradable. Organ(y)c’s award-winning Sanitary Pads Folded Moderate Flow are made using 100% certified organic non-woven cotton top sheet with a highly absorbent 100% certified organic cotton internal core
Organ(y)c’s cotton is also hypoallergenic, perfect for women with sensitive or allergy-prone skin. With protective ‘wings’ and secure adhesive strips to keep the pads in place, they have been designed to adapt to the contours of your body for maximum comfort. Organ(y)c pads are individually wrapped in an eco-friendly corn starch wrapper and come in a recycled and recyclable cardboard box. For lighter flow days, Organ(y)c Cotton Liners are free from fragrance, colouring agents and polymers. They are also made from100% certified unbleached organic cotton.
These make a good eco-swap if you are used to using sanitary towels and not yet ready to move over to Wuka pants. They’re also a great option if you travel a lot and don’t want to carry around soiled underwear!
Like their pads and liners Organ(y)c Tampons are made using 100% certified organic cotton with an absorbent organic cotton core. They also have an organic cotton ‘cardboard’ applicator, ideal if you want to avoid synthetic materials in your sanitary products. Naturally breathable and hypoallergenic, they’re also ideal if you have sensitive skin.
Organ(y)c tampons are free from perfumes, colouring agents, and polymers and are made using 100% certified organic unbleached cotton.
Organ(y)c tampons are free from perfumes, colouring agents, and polymers and are made using 100% certified organic unbleached cotton. These make a great eco-swap if you’re not quite ready to try a menstrual cup, or for days when it is tricky to use a menstrual cup – if you’re travelling or don’t have access to a washbasin.
If you’re already on a mission to have zero-waste periods, you’ll know how much money you’ve saved on not having to buy tampons and pads all the time. I really have saved so much money over the past 4 years, as well as reducing my impact on the environment by avoiding flushing sanitary products and sending waste to landfill.
Have you already found products you like using – let me know in the comments below!
Here are some other ways you can reach zero waste in the bathroom.
|Natalie Shirlaw is passionate about healthy living and writes posts about wellbeing. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to pin it or share it!|