Photo: iStock/Delmaine Donson
The average woman has approximately 450 periods in their lifetime, which means they go through A LOT of (typically) single-use products. Not only is that a lot of trash, but it also doesn't help that the standard period-care options are expensive, usually made from harsh chemicals or plastics and are limited in terms of options.
Thankfully, the last few years have seen a wave of new menstrual products and leak-proof underwear that lighten the environmental burden. These more sustainable period products also give women an array of better-for-you (and your wallet!) choices.
We chose the best sustainable period products based on their elimination of harmful chemicals and fragrances, a focus on organic ingredients and materials that are easily renewed without minimal environmental impact.
This women-owned company has been creating plastic-free period products since 1989. In addition to organic cotton tampons and compostable pads and liners, they offer plant-based maternity pads and biodegradable incontinence pads. Prices start at just $4, and the entire range of products is available in both the United States and Canada. A win!
If you prefer the comfort of a pad but hate the actual pad, period underwear is for you. These Saalt comfort boy shorts come in three easy-to-love colors and sizes XS through XXL to suit a variety of body types. It has extended gusset coverage for all-night comfort and protection for heavy periods, bladder leaks and postpartum care.
You'll love the soft-stretch Tencel modal fabric made from sustainably regenerated cellulose fiber. That fiber comes from renewable beech wood, so it's ultra-sustainable. Each pair of underwear is designed to replace three pads or four regular tampons. You can see other sustainable products for women at Shop Wearwell.
You've probably seen these funnel-like objects in the feminine hygiene aisle and wondered, what the heck do I do with this? Similar to a tampon, these nifty cups are typically made of medical-grade silicone and can be folded and inserted into the vaginal canal to collect menstrual blood. Instead of ending up in the landfill, they can be cleaned and reused time and time again. Did we mention these things last for years? they do.
The DivaCup comes in a variety of sizes and is so easy to use that it's racked up about 27,000 Amazon ratings and a nearly-perfect 4.5-star average. "I was a diehard disposable pad girl until I started enjoying camping and the great outdoors four years ago," writes verified purchaser, Christina.
"The cup eliminates the need to carry pads into the wilderness (yay, weight savings) but most amazingly, it eliminated the smell that pads get after you've been using them for a few hours. Why didn't I know about this sooner!!???!! DivaCup has also been amazing for traveling around the world. No more worrying if I brought enough pads or if I am carrying enough with me during the day! Just go pee, dump it out, and continue on your way. Four years of owning my cup and it is still going strong."
This unsung hero product is the little helper that makes everyone's favorite applicator-free tampons easier than ever. It's exactly what you'd expect it to be—a compact, lightweight reusable tampon applicator. It makes it easy to insert tampons without discomfort or extra mess, and easily rinses clean. Helpful tip: buy a few. One for your bathroom, one for your purse, etc.
The disc offers a single-use option if you're not quite sure about using a cup. Claiming to hold more than five tampons worth of blood, the disk can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time. It's also said to reduce cramping and works well during sex. Plus, they're reasonably priced and available in both the United States and Canada. Score!
Frustrated with your heavy flow? Hell, no! This Saalt bundle is designed to make even the boldest periods less of a chore. It comes with the Saalt Original or Soft Duo pack of your choice, cup wash, four total Comfort Briefs in high absorbency and one Saalt Wear Go Bag. Truly, it's enough to get you through a week (or more) of Aunt Flo.
What we really love about this set is how great it is after welcoming a baby. The ultra-soft underwear gently hugs delicate, sore postpartum bellies while the built-in high-absorbency liner works to absorb all sorts of excess fluids. And hey, these work for the dreaded sneeze-pee issues, too. Make sure you put this on your hospital bag checklist.
If you're open to a little extra laundry and a reusable approach to nature's monthly gift, these fabric-based pads are one of Amazon's top-rated sustainable period products. The set comes with 10 pieces and is available in multiple colors, because style doesn't stop with outward fashion.
Plus, there are three sizes for different menstrual volumes. The four absorbent layers are made of ultra-soft charcoal bamboo fiber, microfiber and a water-resistant outer layer to prevent leaks and spills. They're so good that they've got over 6,000 Amazon ratings and a nearly-perfect 4.5-star average.
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