5 Tips for a Greener Period

It feels like the zero-waste movement is stronger than ever these days. People are starting blogs, writing books, filming documentaries and all around inspiring some serious action. Maybe you’ve seen Trash is for Tossers all over the news?

If you’re looking to reduce the amount of trash you throw into the landfill in a big way, you might want to start with a greener period. I know what you might be thinking. Is this going to be difficult? Expensive? A huge hassle?

I have some good news for you!

Making the switch to greener period options will actually save you money, and make your menstruating life easier. It’s an easy, simple place to start reducing the amount of waste at your house.

Seriously, once you make the switch, you’ll probably wonder why you didn’t get started with eco-friendly period products years ago.

I’m Not Sure What Happened

I have very few regrets in my life, but one of them is that I didn’t know about environmentally friendly period products until I was in my early 30’s.

Maybe I was hanging around the wrong crowd of people, or maybe these products just weren’t so popular 10 years ago. Whatever the case, I’m happy to have made the switch, and I want to encourage others to make it as well.

Let’s Get to the Green Period Tips!

Here are a few tips for getting started with greener periods.

Tip #1: Consider Using a Menstrual Cup

mentral-cupYour first stop for green periods should be the menstrual cup. Some of the brands you may know include the Keeper Cup, Diva Cup, Mooncup, or Lunette. Some of the newer, popular menstrual cups include the Lena Cup, Eva Cup, and Saalt Menstrual Cup.

Are there Any Negatives to Menstrual Cups?

While there is a bit of a learning curve to using them, most people get the hang of it after a few cycles. You can just wear a pad in the meantime and try not to worry about it. The vast majority of people figure it out pretty easily.

Menstrual Cup Advantages

After those first few cycles when you’re learning how to use a period cup? It’s all good news.

Here’s why I love menstrual cups:

  • You can potentially save thousands of dollars over a lifetime. Start early for maximum savings!
  • The average person uses 10,000+ tampons over the course of her life. Or, you could use just a handful of menstrual cups. A top-quality one will last for around five years.
  • Menstrual cups are better for your health because they contain no toxic chemicals, unlike some of the leading tampon and disposable pad brands. Sure, there are only trace amounts of this stuff, but exposure to it for decades? It can lead to some serious health effects.
  • Menstrual cups come with a lower risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome than tampons. To date, there’s only one confirmed case with a cup compared to thousands with tampons.
  • Do you have a heavy period? You’ll love a menstrual cup. Regular tampons hold 5 ml, while jumbo ones can hold 10 ml. The average menstrual cup hold 30+ ml, while there are even some high-capacity ones with room for up to 40 ml.
  • You can track your period easily, including the amount you’re bleeding.
  • You’ll become well acquainted with your period. Knowledge is power, and it’s really not as gross as you might think.

Tip #2: The Right Cup is the Key to Happiness

If you take a look on Amazon, you’ll notice that there are more than 100 menstrual cups. And then each of these brands has different size and style options. It can be a bit overwhelming to choose the best one.

But, choosing the right cup really is the key to having a good experience. If you don’t, it’ll probably leak, and it could feel quite uncomfortable.

Pay Attention to Cervix Height

One of the most important things is your cervix height. If you have a high cervix, you’ll want a longer cup (70 mm+). If you have a low cervix, then a shorter cup will work best for you (less than 70 mm). Find out how to measure your cervix height here.

Small or Large Menstrual Cup?

Most menstrual cups come in two sizes: small and large. Which one is right for you?

All companies recommend the large size if you’ve given birth vaginally. Some recommend the small cup if you’ve haven’t given birth.

Other companies base it on age. If you’re over 25 (or 30), then use the large cup. If you’re younger than that, the small one, unless you’ve given birth.

Start with a Menstrual Cup Quiz

Not sure where to start?

One of the best places to start is a menstrual cup quiz. There are a few simple questions and at the end, you’ll get a recommendation for some of the best cups for your body type.

It’s an easy way to narrow down your options to two or three that’ll work for you.

What about Cheap Menstrual Cups?

When you’re over on Amazon, you’ll probably notice that period cups come in a wide variety of price ranges, from $5-40. In general, you should avoid the cheap cups that are less than $15.

They’re often made from sub-par materials that aren’t medical grade. Usually, they’re manufactured in China and the companies are unclear about their manufacturing standards. For something that you’re putting inside your body, it’s not a great option.

Finally, they just don’t work that well. The very cheap menstrual cups are often so flimsy that it’s very difficult to get them to fully open. In order for a menstrual cup to not leak, it has to be fully open, and suctioned to your vaginal canal walls. It’s much easier for a stiffer cup to do this.

Tip #3: Try Reusable Cloth Pads

If you currently use disposable pads or pantyliners, consider making the switch to cloth ones. You can easily find them on Amazon, or if you’re handy with a sewing machine, you can even make your own.

Cloth Pad Advantages

Reusable cloth pads have many of the same advantages as menstrual cups. They include the following:

  • Cheaper than disposables over the medium to long-term
  • Better for the environment. Disposable pads in particular are bad because they are made largely from plastic.
  • Better for your health. Reusable menstrual pads contain no toxic chemicals in them like some brands of  disposables.
  • Less irritating. If you have sensitive skin and find disposable pads or pantyliners irritating, then try out cloth pads. I’m confident that you’ll notice a big difference.

Are there any Disadvantages to Cloth Pads?

However, the main disadvantage to cloth pads is that you have to wash them. If you don’t care about staining, just throw them in with your regular laundry. It really is that easy.

If you do care about staining, use some commercial stain remover, or soak them in cold water after use. Not so difficult either.

Another thing that people don’t like about cloth pads is that they can shift around a bit more than disposables. This is because they don’t have a sticky backing on them. This is particularly true during exercise.

An easy solution is to keep a box of disposables in your cupboard for exercising, and then use cloth pads for the rest of the time.

Tip #4: Don’t Forget about the Ziggy Cup

Up until this year, your best options for period sex were the Instead Soft Cup, or the Flex Disc. They are flat, flexible discs that fit right under your cervix. They work well, but the biggest disadvantage is that they’re disposable products. They’re not great for the environment, and can also get pretty expensive if used all the time.

The good news is that Intimina has recently come out with the Ziggy Cup. It’s similar to the Soft Cup, but it’s made from medical grade silicone (the same as most regular menstrual cups) and can be used for a few years. That’s some eco-friendly awesome!

People have been waiting years for a reusable period sex option and I’m very happy that one is finally on the market!

Ziggy Cup Disadvantages

If you take a look at the customer reviews on Amazon, you’ll notice that a lot of people say the same thing. The Ziggy Cup is not that easy to insert and remove because you have to put it right below your cervix. This can be quite difficult if you have a long vaginal canal, short fingers or wrist problems.

However, this complaint is the same as with the Flex Cup or Soft Cup, and is not unique to the Intimina Ziggy Cup.

Tip #5: Finally, Try some Period Panties

If you use disposable pantyliners for spotting, backup to a tampon or menstrual cup, light incontinence or discharge, consider switching to period panties. Some of them have just a leak-proof layer, while others have some absorbent padding. Which kind you need depend on your needs.

What is amazing about period panties are that they’re comfortable, affordable, and great for the environment. Try them out. You’ll probably love them too!

Think Beyond Thinx

Quick tip: think beyond Thinx. There are plenty of cheaper, comparable options out there. Some of the cheaper brands out there include Anigan, Modibodi, Hesta, Natratouch, and Innersy.

Ready to Go Green for your Period?

If you’re looking for some easy ways to reduce the amount of waste in your life, and plastic waste in particular, then consider one of these eco-friendly period products. They’re easy to use, and you’ll also save a lot of money as well as enjoy some health benefits.

You won’t regret making the switch, and you’ll probably wonder why you didn’t do it earlier!

Jackie Bolen is a tree-hugging, friend of the Earth who can usually be found on top of a mountain, paddling the rivers, or drinking coffee around Vancouver, Canada. Here hope is that, one day, a reusable period product will be found in the hands of every single menstruating person.

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