life beyond the maxi pad

There is a certain time of month when I stop thinking about how to save the earth and instead start asking other questions, such as:

Where the heck is the Ibuprofen?
hy is all the ice cream gone?
Seriously, can someone please bring me something with chocolate?

In between digging out the “fat” jeans and resisting the urge to nap all day, it’s easy to forget our other priorities. We might know that the average woman uses 11,000 disposable feminine products between adolescence and menopause, though it’s hard to have any other reaction than ewwwww.

Thankfully, the world has offered up some great alternatives to the expensive, bleached disposables. Every day, more and more women are realizing how much better life is beyond the Maxi Pad. Let’s consider the options:

1. Change your brand
An easy first step toward an eco-friendly period is simply switching up the brand you use. Natracare and Seventh Generation are two great brands commonly sold in the natural section of grocery stores. They offer unbleached (and, for Natracare, organic) cotton tampons and pads that are biodegradable and safe for your body. Most people assume that these products are more expensive, though I’ve found they are often cheaper than some of the popular name brands out there. Like any good sustainable product, they are sold without individual plastic wrappers, which simply means you’ll want to find a cute cloth pouch or special pocket of your purse to store them.

2. Go for cloth
Most women I talk to are grossed out by the idea of reusable pads. Personally, I’m grossed out by pads in general, though for women who already prefer pads vs. tampons, there isn’t much difference other than the cleaning factor. You’ll want to have a small bucket or container under the bathroom sink to soak and/or store them till laundry day, when you can simply toss them in a garment bag and throw them in with a non-white load. Remember that it’s just blood, not toxic waste. For changes on-the-go, you can keep a washable baggie to quarantine used pads in your purse. Etsy offers plenty of cute patterns in a variety of sizes, with little wings that snap to hold them in place. Order a few and see what you think!

3. Consider a menstrual cup
Though it requires the biggest leap, purchasing a Moon Cup or Diva Cup is probably the best option for saving money and reducing waste during your period. These cups are made of flexible, medical-grade silicone and are designed to collect menstrual flow rather than absorb it. (Tampons tend to absorb natural moisture down there, leading to discomfort.) The cup will last for years, which will save you hundreds of dollars and plenty of landfill waste.

Personally, I made the switch to Moon Cup a few years ago and can’t imagine going back. It took a few months to adjust, though I would now say that tampons seem strange and unclean by comparison. If you faint at the sight of blood, this may not be the product for you, but if you’re curious, take some time to explore each product’s website and read the testimonials. Menstrual cups are only weird because we’re not used to them–as Diva Cup’s site points out, they’ve been around for decades. Open your mind, grab a bar of chocolate, and have fun exploring the possibilities for a better period. 🙂

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