How to Have a Zero Waste Period

I put off this post for a long time, just because I was really unsure of how comfortable I was sharing some of this information. I don’t know if it is because I’m actually ready to share this information with you guys, or just simply because I can’t think of anything else left to write about (COVID-19 is really hindering my content possibilities at the moment). I’ve hinted at some of the things that I do personally when it comes to my period, and I know that there are always so many questions for people who menstruate when it comes to switching products, finding something that works for them, and being comfortable. So here is my experience with having a zero waste period and also some other options for you to look at and research yourself. 

From my own research on the topic of having a zero waste period, there are basically three options for people to try:

  1. Reusable Pads
  2. Period Underwear
  3. The Cup

Reusable Cloth Pads

Reusable pads are just period pads made out of fabric with snaps to attach them around the crotch of your underwear. There are versions that you can buy online and also ways to make them yourself at home. If you’re someone who primarily wears pads in the first place, then this could be a good go between for you to start having a less wasteful period. Just wear them like your normal pads and wash them once you need to change them. 

I personally never used the cloth pads when I started my zero waste period just because I felt like it could just jump up to a cup right away with very little problems. Before this, I did just primarily use pads because to me they were easier to use and less stress than a tampon.I was also mostly worried about the profile and thickness of the pads being seen when I wore tight pants or shorts, so I wasn’t too crazy about them. I know a lot of people that the cloth pads have worked for, and they are also a lot less of an investment than the other two options, so they are great if you just want to dip your toe into trying out a zero waste period. 

Period Underwear

Period underwear are the cloth diapers of the zero waste period world. One of the most popular brands that I’ve found when it comes to period underwear is Thinx, and they were also the first brand that I ever heard of making period underwear. Basically, period underwear is underwear that you wear on your period, and that’s it. You just go about your day free-bleeding and wash the panties whenever you’re done with them. I would obviously recommend having a new pair for each day that you have your period and would not recommend rewearing already used period underwear. 

They are absorbent, but I personally have never really put this to the test. I have a few pairs that I just wear with my cup for added protection in case that I don’t have my cup in correctly and there is a bit of leakage. 

The Cup

The cup is probably the one alternative period item that most people who menstruate are afraid of, and I’m not completely sure why. The entire premise of the cup is the same as a tampon, but I guess the fact that the cup just catches the blood instead of absorbing it is what does it. I’ve said this in a past post, but I have a ton of friends who only use tampons for their periods, but for some reason, whenever I mention that they should get a cup, they shut it down immediately. I guess it is personal preference, but I guarantee that after using the cup for one cycle of their period that they would switch over to it for good. 

All the cups that I have seen are made out of silicone so that it is easy to fold up and insert and it also sits comfortably inside. I know that I have my cup in correctly when I stand up and I can’t even feel it anymore, and then I’m good to go for about 12 hours beforer I have to empty it. Another big problem that I’ve seen people make up is that they are afraid of the cup getting lost inside them, and I’m here to tell you that that is impossible and also the reason for the long little knobs at the bottoms of the cups. No matter how deep they go, you will always be able to find that little knob and pull the cup out, trust me. 

There are some great brands popping up for cups that I thought I should mention. A ton of these brands are making their companies around a one for one principle, so they end up giving a cup to someone who either can’t afford menstrual products or would not be able to have menstrual products otherwise. And then there are the cup companies that give back to charities that empower women, young girls, and the LGBTQ community.

Some brands that give back are:

The brand that I personally bought when I was looking for a cup was the Lena Cup, and the reason was simply because its voted the #1 menstrual cup for beginners, and I was a little worried that other cups wouldn’t work for me. Lena was also super informative with how to use the cup for the first time, different folding methods, how to clean the cup, and so much more. I also had no clue that there were other brands doing the amazing things that they do. However, now that I am definitely not a beginner anymore and I know of these other brands that are giving back, I’m definitely going to look at buying from them since I’m looking to get a few more cups to have for convenience and just in case I forget my current cup somewhere when traveling. 

Like I said, the cup was super scary for me at first, but after just one cycle of using it, I got used to it so quickly which I thought was going to be my biggest problem. To start with, I was a pad user through and through and only ever used tampons if I absolutely had to and they were the only option for me. I hated putting tampons in because I almost never put them in correctly, so then I would have to take out the dry tampon to reinsert it which if you know what that feels like, hurts so bad. Since the cup is silicone, it doesn’t hurt at all when inserting and removing, which is a God send for me considering that I get paranoid and sometimes think that my cup is in wrong when it really isn’t but still feel the need to take it out and put it back in just to make sure. 

Overall if I had to recommend you buying any product for a zero waste period, it would probably be a cup. They are so much more low maintenance than the cloth pads and period underwear and easy to travel with. The only reason that I recently opted to get period underwear for added insurance was because I started a job where I was expected to wear much nicer clothes every day and I did not want to deal with a leak ruining my nice work pants. 

However you choose to deal with your period is completely up to you and your personal preferences. Like I said in the beginning, the most important thing is making sure that you are comfortable with what you are doing.

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