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Plastic-free periods: is it time you broke the cycle?

Psychologies Eco Worrier, Ellen Tout, tests the plastic-free menstrual alternatives and discovers why they're not just better for the planet but our bodies too. Plus, learn about the women reclaiming their periods to head the #PlasticFreePeriods and #EndPeriodPoverty campaigns

by Ellen Tout

There’s still a stigma around our ‘time of the month’ and we don’t talk about it enough, so its environmental impact had barely crossed my mind. I was shocked to learn that one sanitary pad contains on average as much plastic as four carrier bags, as well as chemicals like bleach. Most widely available products don’t biodegrade, and the Marine Conservation Society recently found 20 tampons and sanitary items per 100 metres of our coasts.

We need to change the way we view these ‘throwaway’ items. After researching, I decide that I want to find a natural product that’s healthier for the planet and my body. But which one? I’d seen Mooncup advertised and have friends who swear by them. The cups are reusable and last ten years. The idea felt really out of my comfort zone, but I psyched myself up to try. After squirming around on my bathroom floor for ten minutes, I can safely say that these are not for me. We’re so used to the grab-and-go nature of disposable sanitary wear, but a menstrual cup takes practice.

Feeling a little put off, I decide to try biodegradable pads and tampons. Brands like Natracare and Flo offer vegan and organic alternatives made of natural materials with eco packaging. They’re a little more expensive, but very comfortable.  

I’d read about reusable cloth sanitary towels, and a friend told me about period-proof underwear. I wasn’t convinced but order a pair of Thinx to try. They’re washable, reusable and made of natural fibres. I was shocked by how much I love these. Wearing them feels comfortable and they’re really reliable. Whilst they’re more of an investment initially, they’re then reusable month in month out.

Our periods are a natural process and throwing plastic and synthetics at them without a thought now feels wrong for me. It should be about listening to your body and finding what works for you. By making a small change to my routine, I know it’s having a positive impact. I want to protect and work in harmony with my body and the planet. Making a conscious choice about my sanitary wear helps me feel more in control and grounded – like I’m managing something I used to dread from place of care.

Plastic-free period ideas

Read more from Ellen on her eco journey in the magazine each month and follow @Ellen_Tout

Ella Daish is on a mission to make all menstural products plastic-free – as well as collecting donations for eco period boxes. Learn more and sign the petition, here.

Find out about the Bloody Good Period campaign, here.

Brands to consider:

  • OrganiCup (menstrual cups)
  • Thinx (period pants)
  • Natracare (eco pads and tampons)
  • TOTM (eco pads and tampons)
  • Cloth sanitary towels
  • Intimina's Lily Cup One. If you struggle with a larger cup then this compact menstrual cup is well worth considering.

Image: Thinx

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