A guide to a zero waste period

Unless you’ve been living as a hermit for the past few years, you’ll know that planet Earth has a plastic problem.

Statistics from The Globalist show that an average person from Western Europe “consumes 100 kilograms of plastic each year, mostly in the form of packaging,” – although if you are a hermit, you’ve probably not used any.

Each month, women and girls across the planet buy tampons and sanitary pads, which help them live comfortably during their periods and these items include plastic.

According to official government reports in 2018: “Conventional disposable menstrual products made from 90 per cent plastic … generate 200,000 tonnes of waste per year.”

But that figure might have reached its peak.

Instead of buying a supply of sanitary pads and tampons every month, here are some products which you can buy once and keep – just like a bamboo straw, keep cup or tote bag.

Read on to discover how to achieve a zero waste period…

Washable pads

Washable pads are pieces of soft, absorbent cloth, designed to sit in your underwear like a regular disposable pad.

Instead of wings to secure the pad in place, there is a discreet press stud in the middle.

After the pad has been used, it should be washed, allowed to dry and then can be reused, unlike traditional period products – tampons, tampon applicators, pads, backing strips and packaging go to landfill or the sea.

One washable micro pad from Honour Your Flow costs £6.70 and a washable night pad made by Cheeky Mama is £5.50.

Meanwhile, one pack of twelve disposable pads rates at £2.10 in Boots. 

In June last year, MP Danielle Rowley, of The Scottish Labour Party, announced to The House of Commons that she was on her period. “It’s cost me this week already, £25,” she said.

“We know the average cost of a period in the UK, over a year, is £500. Many women can’t afford this.”

Although the price-tag for a set of washable pads might sit parallel with your weekly food shop budget, they will pay for themselves over time.

The washable pads are designed to be absorbent, so they do take a long time to dry – if possible, keep them by an open window.

Period pants

Period pants are fashioned as regular underwear, with built-in but discreet absorbency for intimate areas.

You do not need to wear ordinary underwear with them.

Whilst period-proof knickers are used for menstruation or incontinence, there are a similar range of leakproof bras, to support breastfeeding Mums available on Knix.

Menstruating women and girls can wear these to bed and sleep comfortably knowing the sheets will be clean in the morning – although taking a short shower in the morning is certainly recommended.

Period pants can also be worn throughout the day – if you’re nervous about trying them on outside of the house, choose a slow day.

The period pants can be washed with regular laundry – just follow the instructions.

As with other sanitary products, you can wear period pants for up to eight hours.

On heavy days, you may want to use a tampon for chunk of that time too.

You can find a range on ASOS or browse WUKA and Modibodi online.

DAME washable tampon applicator

For women and girls who have a heavier flow, don’t stress about using whatever works for you – there are plenty of other ways to reduce waste.

If you prefer to use tampons with an applicator, try DAME: a tampon applicator you can clean and keep.

A part of period waste includes the plastic and even cardboard applicators which are discarded after each use.

When using DAME, you insert a fresh tampon each time and wash it once you’re finished.

The tool comes in a durable bag, where you can keep your DAME alongside accompanying tampons, in your bag or pocket.

DAME is available at Boots and Waitrose for £24.99.

Menstrual Cups

Check out what Kirsten Lee had to say about using the menstrual cup in a previous article for The Kingston Courier.

Buy them once, wear them once, let your body do her thing, wash them and return the product to your underwear draw – not the ocean.

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