5 Must-Haves for an Environmentally Friendly, Zero Waste Period
Transitioning to a plastic-free and/or zero-waste lifestyle is something that’s currently #trending — and with good reason: plastic is ruining our planet. Globally, we produce over 300 million TONS of plastic waste per year & 8 million TONS of that is being dumped directly into our oceans. Here are some more fun (read: devastating) facts:
Over 90% of seabirds have plastic in their stomachs.
Every year, one trillion single-use plastic bags are used (that’s approximately 2 million every 60 seconds…)
79% of all the plastics ever produced have now been discarded.
In the U.S. alone, 18 billion disposable diapers are thrown away annually.
There’s currently a fucking island made of trash that’s 3x the size of France and floating around in our ocean.
Plastic items take ~1000 years to decompose in landfills.
Happy Earth Day, kids!
The positive? We can take action in our day-to-day lives. Many of us have started making more sustainable purchases — with a few clicks, it’s now easier than ever to find reusable bags, utensils, makeup-removing pads, straws, produce bags, food wraps, sponges — even biodegradable pet poop bags! Even cooler, websites like Package Free Shop even offer plastic-free shipping and zero-waste kits to get you started.
That all said, please know that I’m not the ideal plastic-free citizen. My recycling habits are currently atrocious & I forget my reusable grocery bags in the car every. single. time. I go grocery shopping. Also, frankly, sometimes I want to roll my eyes at the whole idea that saving the world = handing my $$ over to yet another company (#capitalism). I personally believe that on-the-ground action will probably do more for the environment than spending $7 on a metal straw, but, also, to each their own! Get you a girl that can do BOTH, right?
Okay, cool — so all of that is wonderful, but per this post’s title, I’M HERE TO TALK ABOUT PERIODS, BABY! Even though I’m still trying to get my environmentalism together, the one area of life that I’ve been leveling up in is my menstrual cycle. (#Cute!) Here are 5 products that are zero-waste and environmentally friendly!
1. The Dot Cup (or any menstrual cup!)
Listen, I’m a HUGE proponent of menstrual cups. Like, this is me, but about cups. I think menstrual cups are wonderful because they average 12-hours of leak-free protection (with a much lower risk of TSS), help reduce landfill waste, save you money*, don’t have unidentified ingredients, and they can be used for up to TEN YEARS. If you’re thinking “Ew, Isabelle! I’d rather not have to deal with the collection of my own period blood,” listen up: 1. the average person with a menstrual cycle has 450 periods over the course of their life — it’s time we get used to our own bodies/blood & 2. I almost exclusively change my cup in the shower (1x in the morning; 1x in the evening), which means I pour that shit right down the drain & don’t see much of anything! I promise it’s not as jarring as it sounds.
There are a number of great menstrual cups out there, but I especially love Dot Cup because their cups are made in the U.S. with medical-grade silicone; for every cup purchased, they donate one to a person in need; their language is inclusive (see the last FAQ); their cups are black (rather than clear) so that there’s no staining/blood viewing; and they’ve got great branding. Purchase one here!
*This article has great stats, but exclusive language. Please know that here at Exploring Self, we understand that not all women have periods, and not all people with periods are women. xx
2. Luna Pads, THINX or any reusable pad/panty-liner
Okay, so I think the idea of reusable pads makes most people balk even more than they do at menstrual cups, but hear me out! Reusable pads are perfect to use in-tandem with your menstrual cup. I rarely experience leaks, but when I do, I want my clothes to be protected. Enter: reusable pads/period-proof underwear. THINX is probably the most popular on the market right now, but they’re pretty damn expensive at $34/pair. Seeing as how most periods last between 3-5 days, you’re talking $102-$170. My personal choice is LunaPads — their starter kit (4 pads with 2 inserts each) is $75.94. Either way, you’re helping the environment — globally, we dispose an average of 45 billion period-related products every year, and to make matters worse, the average tampon takes 500 years to decompose! Consider switching to reusable panty-liners/pads!
3. An All Natural, Biodegradable Stain Remover
Where there are periods, there are stains. Thankfully, BunchaFarmers Scented Stain Remover exists and it’s only $4.99! Probably most importantly, all of the ingredients are all-natural and biodegradable. It’s a win-win!
4. Non-Toxic Sanitizer (I’m looking at you, Vinegar)
Most menstrual cups can be sanitized by placing them in hot (read: almost-boiling) water for 5 minutes or so, but for those of us without an extra pot** laying around, there’s vinegar. Vinegar naturally sanitizes leaving you with a squeaky clean cup that won’t put any weird or toxic chemicals in your vagina. Just make sure you dilute it! (One part vinegar to 9 parts water)!
**Also, it (hopefully) goes without saying, but please don’t mix your menstrual sanitizing pot & cooking pots!
5. a cute Carrying case
Aaaaand here’s the most fun part. If you do transition to a menstrual cup, reusable pads, biodegradable stain remover and non-toxic sanitizer, you’re going to want a place to store it all. Etsy has a ton of cute cosmetic bags made of recycled materials, you can repurpose a bag you already have or you can always make your own!
And that’s that! Tell me, do you plan on switching over to environmentally friendly period products? Do you already use them? Leave a comment below! xx