How to Go (Almost) Plastic-Free on Your Period

Plastic is a pandemic, and unfortunately for most, every period is plastic-heavy. From tampon applicators to pads and, of course, the endless amount of packaging, it may seem like there is no way to break away from this highly toxic substance. The good news, however, is that it is. You can go fully plastic-free on your period and enjoy a leak-free experience. Or you can adapt your strategy to use as minimal plastic as possible. Even just a tiny fraction of less plastic waste produced during your period is a total win, and with this guide, you’ll have multiple different options to suit your style and comfort: 

1. Period Underwear

Period underwear is, by far, the most popular sustainable period product of the decade. It lets you essentially “free bleed” without the hassle, stress, or discomfort of leaks. Made from absorbent and leak-proof fabric, these specially designed undergarments eliminate the need for pads altogether. Top brands like Thinx offer different styles as well, so you can adapt your roster with options perfect for each day of your cycle. How do Thinx work? They work in the same way as regular pads, except they’re made of longer-lasting materials that can be washed and reused again and again. 

To use, simply wear this period underwear during your flow, and they will absorb the menstrual fluid, keeping you comfortable and dry. Afterward, rinse them out and throw them in the washing machine for reuse. Period underwear is not only plastic-free but also offers long-term cost savings.

2. Menstrual Cup

Menstrual cups have revolutionized period care for countless individuals seeking eco-friendly alternatives. Made from medical-grade silicone, these flexible cups are inserted directly into your vagina, where they’ll collect up to 12 hours’ worth of blood at a time. There are various styles as well, so you can explore until you find the style and shape that works best for your needs. With proper care, a single cup can last for years, significantly reducing plastic waste. 

3. Reusable Applicator

For those who prefer the convenience of tampons with applicators, reusable applicators offer a sustainable solution. These applicators are typically made of medical-grade silicone or other safe materials and can be used repeatedly. To use them, you insert an applicator-free tampon (hence the almost plastic-free) and use it as you would normally. Afterward, you’ll want to wash your applicator and dry it before putting it away. This option reduces the single-use plastic waste associated with traditional tampon applicators while providing a familiar and comfortable experience.

4. Applicator-Free Tampons

If you’re comfortable using tampons without applicators, consider opting for applicator-free tampons. These tampons come without plastic applicators, reducing plastic waste significantly. They are usually individually wrapped in paper or compostable materials, ensuring a more sustainable period experience. Look for brands that prioritize eco-friendly packaging and offer organic cotton tampons for a healthier and planet-friendly choice. For the best experience, always treat yourself to organic, chemical-free tampons. 

5. Flushable Pads

For those who prefer pads, there are now flushable options available that help minimize plastic waste. These pads are typically made from sustainable and biodegradable materials, and they come in plastic-free packaging. After use, they can be flushed down the toilet, reducing the need for disposal in landfills. It’s important to note that not all flushable pads are suitable for all plumbing systems, so check the manufacturer’s instructions and your plumbing capabilities before opting for this option.