6 ways towards plastic-free periods
Here’s a thought for you: We love our use and throws, and we’ve made quite a life out of them. But the damage from this throwaway culture and unstoppable growth is accumulating somewhere. To be specific, in the sea. There are consequences for everything we do.
I don’t think even half of us out here know exactly what the products we use for intimate care and then so freely discard, are made of. We spend hours looking for the right period products, but not even seconds considering the environmental impact of polyester pads and pretty pink plastic casings. It’s not just nature at risk, but your body too. Pesticides, bleach, and what not play a huge part in disturbing your vaginal pH levels. There’s no need to make your period any more uncomfortable than it already is. It’s important for menstruators to have as much liberty in choosing their products wisely when it comes to managing periods.
Stats show that use and throw period products are the fifth most common waste products that show up washed on seashores. Imagine going for a romantic walk on the beach only to be welcomed by a range of plastic waste.
From the string of a tampon or the base of a pad to the wrappers they come in, your chosen product could be 90% plastic. In an age where there are stricter regulations on the labeling of dog food than there are on pads and tampons, transparency needs to be at the top of major brands' to-do lists.
Here are a few ways towards a comfortable, adaptable, and plastic-free period:
Menstrual Cups: My personal favorite, and the most sensible option. It comes in various sizes and is super comfortable (you might even forget it’s there!). It does require some getting used to, but once you get a hang of it, there’s no going back. A cup can last for years, thus being the closest alternative to a waste-free cycle as it’s made of silicon. A thoughtful investment, to be practical. What more, it can be left in for up to 12 hours, with better value than disposable products in the long run.
Reusable pads: These are waste-free options for those ready to wash between uses. Made of fabric and cut in the same shape as plastic pads, they also have snap buttons to hold them in place. These are long-lasting, can be made at home, and are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and designs.
Period undies: Period underwear are totally having their moment- now being available in so many retail shops and popping up in supermarkets. These are basically reusable pants. Sounds gross, but are actually pretty game-changing. They come in a whole range of options, depending on your flow. Generating low to almost no waste, they are very effective for light bladder leakage.
Organic cotton tampons: What highly acidic and unhealthy food does to your body; tampons do to your vagina. Thankfully, organic tampons are here to save the day. Crafted with 100% cotton, without bleach or fertilizers, they are waste-free and biodegradable. Also, organic products are not much more expensive than conventional ones. A few extra pennies to protect your body, the environment, wildlife, farmers and future generations are okay and is a great way to wield your purchasing power.
Reusable applicators: If you cannot do without an applicator free tampon, reusable ones are a great way to go. Dame is the world’s first reusable applicator that says ‘why chuck thousands of them when you can keep just one?’ This boon of an invention is self-sanitizing, suitable for all tampon sizes, and also carbon neutral. “Bleed Red. Think Green” – preach all the way!
Menstrual discs: Similar to a cup, only flatter. Reusable silicon discs are better, but harder to find. It’s an alternative period product that provides up to 12 hours of protection and also helps minimize cramps. It is available in three sizes, based on your flow and cervix height. Some disc starter kits offer options to refill your supply regularly. This is optimal for those living with endometriosis, PCOS, or suffering from heavy periods.
As a majority of GenZ and millennial consumers, let us take up the challenge to revolutionize brands and their way of offering convenient, cost-effective, and environment-friendly options. The wave of the shift in the perception of reusable products needs to have menstrual products as its next stop. Sustainable menstruation was, is, and must continue to be a priority.
Understandably, the last thing you want while dealing with period cramps and mood swings is plastic. But, if you can, you should. See yourself as being the same as-not separate from-the ecosystem that sustains you. Things only go uphill on your plastic-free period journey. Not only do you play your teeny tiny part in saving the planet, but you also play the hero in saving your body from any further harm.
Go zero waste, and get the plastic out of periods.
Written by Nibha Patil
Cover by Khyati Patkar