Making positive environmental changes to everyday life is hard enough but when you factor in menstruation that task can become even harder. You can let go of the plastic bags at the supermarket, carry around your reusable water bottle/coffee cup religiously, switch to a plant-based diet or even become a reducetarian. But when it comes to menstruation cycles the process can get even more challenging. A big factor may be the lack of mainstream knowledge of the alternatives and the impact that standard tampons and sanitary pads can have on the environment and our bodies. Not to mention the ‘luxury tax’ which makes it a regular cost too.
It is estimated that 40 billion sanitary pads are sent to landfills all around the world every month. Furthermore, mainstream products such as pads and tampons can also pose a risk to health as they’re often laced with potentially harmful plastics and dipped in bleach. This is then exposed to your most porous and sensitive intimate areas for hours and travel through the body. These chemicals have been linked to heart disease, breast cancer and endometriosis.
This page is here to offer you some alternative options, at affordable prices, to help you have your greenest menstruation possible.
ALSO PLEASE REMEMBER:
If you find yourself needing some emergency sanitary products on campus there is help nearby! On the Surrey campuses, you can pop into the Library where the Red Box Project runs or alternatively pop into the SU office. On the Kent campuses, each bathroom has a donation bag, where you can get an emergency pad. We only ask that in return you leave a donation when you can so others can get help when they need. You can also pop into the SU office on your campus and we will be able to give you an emergency pad as well.
Image Source: MoonCup
You may have heard of Moon Cup, the popular menstrual cup company has recently grown in popularity. These cups are made of medical-grade silicone and although it may take a while to get used to, they are the most environmentally friendly and cost-saving option. Companies like Moon Cup, OrganiCup, DivaCup, Fair Squared (latex), Intima Ziggy Cup, or Nudie Period Cup offer period cups between the £17-23 range. It may sound like a big investment, to begin with, but a menstrual cup will last you around 10 years! Most people will only need to empty the cup every 12 hours which means it is unlikely that you will need to change it while at university and instead only have to change in the comfort of your own home.
They come in different sizes too. You simply wash it in the sink and voila! You can buy it in stores and online at shops such as Boots, Holland and Barrett and local health/eco shops.
Organic pads and tampons
Image Source: Natural Collection
Reports found that sanitary towels are made up of 90 per cent plastic. There are organic and unbleached alternative versions on the market such as those made by Natracare (a very affordable option and Vegan and Vegetarian Society approved), ORGANYC, ECO by Naty, Cottons (which you can purchase in Boots) and Gift Wellness. And there are even subscription boxes options such as Ohne and Flo (although Flo also has non-subscription options).
These companies offer just as many options as mainstream popular brands, with options on flow capacity, wings or not, applicator or non-applicator etc.
A great website to visit is Natural Collection, which stocks many of these brands at affordable prices!
Reusable Sanitary Pads
Image Source: Babipur
Before you start running for the hills please hear us out. These are great alternative options if period cups don’t work out for you and you still don’t like the idea of creating lots of waste even with the cotton pads/tampons. You use them just like normal pads and once you are finished with one you put it in what’s called a ‘wet bag’ and then just pop them in the wash when you can and reuse. There are lots of funky designs available. The way they work is pretty simple, each pad is made up of a waterproof layer under a top section of natural bamboo or cotton which sits next to the skin. They’re finished with leak-proof binding for extra security, and instead of sticky strips on the pack, the pads have wings with poppers to keep the pads in place. So they are soft, comfortable, long-lasting and free from nasty chemicals. There are also wingless versions available.
Like the menstrual cups, they are a little bit more expensive to purchase but will last you a long time, so cost-effective in the long term. Some companies you can check out include: Babipur, CheekyWipes, LunarLandings, Bloom and Nora, Imsevimse,
Image Source: Selfridges
These look like normal underwear but are actually similar to the reusable sanitary pads. They have absorbent layers which collects up to four times as much blood as mainstream tampons. They are leak-proof, odour-proof and very comfortable to wear. However, they are the most expensive option. A single piece from THINX starts off at £19 but they are also size-inclusive (sizes goes up to 3XL).
You can also check out WUKA and ModiBodi. WUKA goes up to size 18 and ModiBodi has a curve collection which goes up to size 26! All these brands have different colours and cuts available, from thongs, to mid-length and to boyshorts. So there is something for everybody.