Although it’s high time for us to do right by the environment, it can quite feel impossible for a single person to make a difference, especially when lots of other people out there do not have any regard for the planet.
But no matter how overwhelming going eco-friend may seem, there are always ways for conscious folks like us to make small, sustainable, and impactful lifestyle changes. It can be as simple as using a plastic-free shampoo bar for your bath routine or by refusing a plastic straw on your next drink.
While going zero-waste seems enticing, a lot of people who are still starting out in their sustainability journey might find it challenging, especially for those who menstruate and have been accustomed to using conventional period products.
Experts say plastic is present in all aspects of our lives, and menstruation is definitely not an exception. In case you’re not aware, everyday menstrual products such as tampons and pads come with loads of plastic material:
- Tampons are often packed in plastics and enclosed in plastic applicators with plastic strings which hang from one end. Some tampons may even have an additional layer of plastic in their absorbent part.
- Pads have many plastic components as they mainly comprise their leak-proof bases, absorbent synthetic paddings, and packaging.
Menstrual products soak up menstrual blood and fluids, which is why they are classified as sanitary waste and should be conveniently disposed of after use. Even though the disposability of plastic menstrual products afford us convenience, using them comes at an environmental cost.
If you don’t know it by now, waste from non-organic and plastic period products can cause considerable damage to the environment:
- On average, a woman uses 11,000 tampons in her lifetime. Combined with pads and pantyliners, these products can lead to 200,000 tonnes of waste annually that end up in landfills.
- Conventional tampons are made of synthetic fibres that are a mix of rayon and cotton. Cotton is a water- and pesticide-intensive crop and can contribute to environmental pollution unless grown organically.
- Period products thrown away in landfills tend to leach hormone-disrupting plastic materials into the environment, which eventually break down into microplastics.
It’s disheartening to know how much ecological damage our menstrual products can produce, but it shouldn’t make us lose hope. Instead, it should motivate us to make things right when it comes to our period routines.
Luckily, we’ve come a long way from plastic-filled period routines in recent years. Thanks to technology and creativity, we can now go green during our periods, and that is by switching to eco-friendly menstrual products.
Sustainable menstrual products include long-lasting menstrual cups, biodegradable tampons, and reusable menstrual pads.
Using a menstrual cup or biodegradable tampons might seem great during one’s period, but not everyone prefers using them. If you’re someone who’s not comfortable using a menstrual cup or a biodegradable tampon during your period, then the next sustainable option would be reusable menstrual cloth pads.
Which is better, a pad or cloth?
A conventional plastic period pad is usually cheap and convenient as it can be easily disposed of and get rid of. However, using a menstrual cloth pad is better than a single-use plastic pad in terms of sustainability. Cloth menstrual pads tend to last for years, and using them can help you cut down on your plastic waste and reduce your impact on the planet.
When it comes to cost-efficiency, reusing a cloth pad can save you more money in the long run. Menstrual cloth pads made from natural fibres are washable, which can save you from numerous trips to the store when it’s that time of the month.
Plus, reusable cloth pads are good for your body too. Plastic periods can cause irritation which may be a cause of discomfort for those who have sensitive skin. Washable period pads are made from organic materials which are not irritating to the skin so that you can keep away from unnecessary exposure to synthetic ingredients found in conventional menstrual products.
Are reusable menstrual pads sanitary?
Yes, reusable menstrual pads are sanitary are considered safe. In countries with little to no access to feminine hygiene products, women use cloth pads during their periods. The material used in cloths pads is similar to the ones used in making cloth diapers for babies. Cloths pads are more breathable than plastic ones and are less likely to lock in moisture, allowing bacteria to grow. Just make sure to change cloth pads on a regular basis.
Why do my reusable pads smell?
If your reusable cloth pads tend to give off an odour, you need to learn how to wash them better.
Wearing and soaking your reusable pads for long hours can make them musty, allowing bacteria to grow and cause them to smell. To keep your menstrual cloth pads from smelling, change them every four to eight hours or as needed. Then, keep them in a waterproof cloth container if you’re on the go, or you could proceed to wash them if you’re in no rush.
How do you wash reusable menstrual pads?
If you have a new set of washable cloth pads, wash them first before using them.
After using your pads, pre-rinse them with cold water or natural soap to avoid staining. Soak the cloth pads and wring them until the water becomes clear. You can also machine wash your pads but make sure to avoid using heavy fabric condition as this can lessen its absorbency.
Once they’re rinsed, stretch each side of the pad to the opposite end so that it can go back to its original shape. Lastly, hang your pads to air dry, which is recommended to keep them in good condition.
How long do reusable menstrual pads last?
On average, menstrual cloth pads can last in good condition for up to five years, as long as they are properly used and washed with care. The lifespan of a washable cloth pad is entirely dependent on how it is used and taken care of. After all, if you take care of something well, it will last long.
Are reusable pads worth it?
Yes, reusable menstrual pads are definitely worth your time and money! By owning a set of menstrual cloth pads that you can use over and over again, you can save a lot of money. Plus, they last longer, so you can cut down on plastic waste that would otherwise end up in landfills.
If you want to save your money and the planet when having your period, the best time to switch to cloth pads is now. To help you get started, we’ve curated a list of the best menstrual cloth pads in the market.
Here are six of the best reusable eco menstrual pads to help your go green on your red days:
GladRags offers handmade and organic cotton cloth pads that are designed with refillable inserts and cute wings. Their pads also come in a wide range of sizes, from pantyliner to overnight. GladRags also promises that their maxi cloth pads can last up to five years if given regular care.
Shop at GladRags here.
Known for their best-selling Lunapads, Aisle is a certified B Corp that ethically crafts winged period pads made of organic cotton and recycled polyester. They also have various designs, patterns, and sizes depending on your flow and preferences.
Shop at Aisle here.
3. Ruby Love
Ruby Love is an eco-brand that offers menstrual pads made from natural cotton and cashmere wool fibres. This brand’s pads are also embedded with a dri-tech mesh that allows you to simply flip it when one side gets full, giving you added protection.
Shop at RubyLove here.
If you want a cloth pad that you can use more than 100 times, then Rael is the brand for you. Made with super-absorbent layers of certified organic cotton and packed in recyclable packaging, Rael’s reusable pads are a great alternative to mainstream pads.
Shop at Rael here.
5. Bamboo House
Bamboo House is a UK-based zero-waste brand that offers odour-free cloth, biodegradable bamboo, and natural cotton fibres. The brand offers pads in a variety of colourful patterns that will fit your fashion taste. They also have pads for light to heavy flow.
Shop at Bamboo House here.
6. Hannah Pad
Hannah Pad is a Canadian eco-brand that creates cloth pads using certified organic cotton. They’re widely known for their overnight pads and thongliners that can keep you covered during your period. Their menstrual pads can also last long for up to four years!
Shop at Hannah Pad here.