Plastic-Free Periods and Tips For Plastic-Free Living
What made you want to switch to a menstrual cup? Was it the convenience (it was for me), or was it the fact that you’d be saving so much money? Maybe it was the health benefits or the eco-friendly factor that pushed you to make the switch. Whatever the reason, trash-free periods are possible and SO much better for everyone, including the planet. Not only are there menstrual cups, but we’re also giving kudos to those who use reusable cloth pads and period-proof underwear. The options we have today have come a long way since our grandparents’ day!
Bring on the plastic-free period!
If half the population menstruates for around 40 years in their lifetime, that’s A LOT of disposable period products going into landfill (an estimated 11-17 thousand per person or 140kg) and our oceans. Did you know that around 90% of a sanitary menstrual pad is made from plastic and will take ~500 years to breakdown? This is only an estimation, as plastic has only been around for roughly 50 years, and with modern landfill practices there’s a good chance all that rubbish will be preserved forever, rather than breaking down due to the lack of oxygen. Worryingly, there was more plastic produced in the last 10 years than ever before in the history of plastic!
Whether you’re a fan of menstrual cups, reusable cloth pads or period-proof underwear such as Modibodi, we can do our part to reduce plastic in our lives by using these products. Plus, we’re also freeing ourselves from toxins such as dioxins, bleaches or BPA entering your system through the delicate mucosal wall of the vulva. It’s important to know what you’re putting inside yourself, so it’s reassuring to know that menstrual cups are made from medical-grade silicon which is hypoallergenic, toxin-free, durable and completely safe to human tissue.
What else can I do to reduce plastic?
Aside from making the switch to reusable menstrual products, why should we stop there? We’ve all seen the damage that plastic is doing to our waterways – from turtles choking on plastic bags to oceans that are a mass of plastic bottles and other microplastics.
Avoid buying fruit and vegetables that are wrapped in plastic (why does that perfectly shaped avocado have to be wrapped in plastic on a styrofoam tray?). Instead, bring your own reusable produce bags or shop at a local farmers market!
A good quality stainless steel water bottle will last a lifetime! It’s so easy to grab a water bottle from the shelves of the supermarket, but the effect those bottles have on the environment AND your health aren’t worth it. Single-use water bottles can leach BPA into the water over time, and who wants to drink that? Not us!
For the coffee lovers who can’t start their morning without a cup of joe, bringing your own mug or coffee cup will save millions of plastic-lined cups and lids from going to landfill and polluting our oceans. There are some wonderfully designed reusable coffee cups out there, and if you forgot your coffee cup one day, opt for no coffee or ask for no lid! Every little bit helps. Life hack: your office most likely has a kitchenette, just grab a mug from there before you head to your favorite coffee shop!
Make sure that you leave your reusable shopping bags in the boot of your car or have a small foldable one that fits in your everyday clutch/bag. You can even make your own no-sew bag from an old t-shirt in less than 10 minutes. If you’re at the store already and want to avoid the plastic bags, ask if they have extra cardboard boxes to spare!
In this world of disposable fast-fashion, single use toys and entertainment, consider going to the thrift store or second-hand store first! We promise they’re not all old and smelly, there are some pretty trendy second-hand stores out there. It’s also a great place to take stuff you want to donate/get rid of instead of throwing it away!
Try some of the following swaps to drastically reduce the amount of plastic in your life. They WILL take practice, and it IS okay if you forget sometimes. Remember that reducing your plastic intake is a journey, and some people recommend just picking the achievable things to begin with and get those into habit first before making the next swaps.
- Sanitary menstrual pads and panty liners - Reusable cloth pads or period underwear
- Tampons - period cups (check out our infographic ‘Menstrual Cups versus Tampons’).
- Food- save your jars and use them for pantry staples from a bulk food retailer
- Shampoo - solid shampoo bars
- Toothbrush - Wooden bamboo toothbrush
- Plastic Straws - Choose glass or metal straws
- Disposable Nappies - Reusable cloth nappies
- Plastic food wraps - Beeswax Food wraps (Fabric soaked in beeswax)
- Milk – milk in reusable glass bottles with deposit scheme