How to Have a Zero Waste Period

Zero Waste Period

Spread the Sustainable Gospel!

I remember always worrying if I had disposable menstrual products at the ready when my period decided to grace me with its presence. It would give me so much anxiety. Month after month I’d spend money on items that I’d use and then throw away. It adds up over time! In fact, menstruation costs us bleeding humans nearly $1800 for just tampons in our lifetime. That’s not including the pantyliners and other products that we get in addition. It may not seem like a lot, but to some, it can be a burden.

Beyond the price, think about the environmental toll these products have. Despite if you flush (which please don’t) or trash your disposables, they quickly add up and wreak havoc. The amount of plastic that goes into a pad is almost that of 4 plastic bags. And because they are made of plastic, they will inevitably sit in landfills for longer than we will be alive.

There are also many health concerns to traditional menstrual products. Most products contain chemicals like dioxins, carcinogens, and reproductive toxins. Companies claim they are safe but there has been no conclusive studies proving that. Should we trust them on their word? I personally know several women who have experienced health issues related to the use of conventional tampons so I feel that we need real research to give menstruating individuals real, factual information on the products they are putting into and near their bodies.

Personally, I have broken up with disposables and that includes menstrual products. Today, there are many alternatives to have a healthy, natural period.

How to Have a Zero Waste Period

Cup it

Menstrual cups have been around since the 70s and recently that are making a huge comeback. A menstrual cup is a reusable, silicone cup that is inserted into the vagina. They can be worn for up to 12 hours and are not prone to TSS. And no, they aren’t gross. We have gotten so disconnected from everything because of disposables that it’s no wonder a common response to cups is “ick.”

Cloth Pads

Luna Pads Cloth Pads

Luna Pads

Don’t worry. If cups aren’t your thing, don’t sweat it. They aren’t for everyone. Reusable cloth menstrual pads are great alternatives disposables. They hold as much as a standard disposable pad, they do not smell when changed at the appropriate times, and are very comfortable. To launder, place pads into the wash and use your regular detergent. If you are worried about staining, dry in the sun.

Period Underwear

Thinx Period Underwear

Thinx Period Underwear

Period underwear have a built in absorbing layer that can hold up to 2 tampons worth of fluid. Depending on your flow, they can completely replace disposable pads and tampons. Or they can be worn in conjunction with your tampons or cup. My first thought, when I heard about period panties was that they had to be like super granny panties with a built in pad but honestly, I was pleasantly surprised. You really can’t even tell. And they are very comfy.

Reusable Tampon Applicator

Reusable tampon applicator


DAME. has just introduced the first ever reusable tampon applicator. It’s made from medical grade silicone, heat resistant, anti-microbioal, and comfortably smooth. Just insert your organic tampon into the applicator, insert like a disposable tampon, and rinse off the applicator. Though tampons are mostly cotton, they still can contain synthetic fibers that will not break down in compost so it’s not suggested to do so. All in all, this is still a “less waste” solution.

Applicator-less Tampons

Or, just forgo the applicator all together and use your fingers. If it works..then well…it works. Again, tampons probably shouldn’t be composted but eliminating the plastic applicator sure does make a difference.

The best thing about waste free periods is that there are so many options – we don’t have to feel as though we are married to only one method because one may work for someone that may not work for someone else. It’s great!

Which option do you use or are most interested in using?

9 thoughts on “How to Have a Zero Waste Period

  1. The cups are pretty good. There is a steep learning curve as many, many times it doesn’t just go right in. Also, speaking from experience, they do not last as long as they claim as it eventually gets gross no matter how much you clean it. But the lack of generated lady trash and the freedom of having to buy and carry around supplies is pretty awesome. I used The Keeper for 7 years and The Diva for about 5.
    I tried, very briefly (no pun intended) the P panties. I wish they were around in my teen years. They would have provided an extra layer of security.

  2. You forgot one option: IUDs, at least for people who aren’t planning on having children or are finished having children. For the majority of people with an IUD their period stops entirely. It’s so nice to not have to deal with a period at all; and it also eliminates all the waste of other forms of contraception.

  3. Thank you for discussing this! I’m excited to hear about the reusable tampon applicator for girls who dislike cups, this is the first I’m hearing of it. I personally use and love cloth pads, but we need to keep discussing all of these options so we can shake that taboo “ick” factor and get reusables into the mainstream.

  4. I’ve been happily using a cup for 5 plus years now and it is MOSTLY great BUT I still have to use something industrial strength on the first day of my period. I’ve tried washable cotton pads (they leaked) and THINXX (also leaked and I did not like the way they felt as soon as there was any blood in them). On that first day I’m emptying my cup every hour (don’t worry, my gyno says I’m totally fine and healthy, just a reallly heavy first dayer). Maybe I’m too active for these options but after sooooo many embarrassing days of bloody pants I’ve gone back to organic cotton disposable pads + my cup for the first day and then just the cup. If anyone has a truly leak-proof washable pad option I’m all ears!!!

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