Billions of people globally have a period each month and use some form of period product, usually disposable pads or tampons. However, most people aren’t aware of the negative impact these products can have on the environment and the many wonderful, sustainable alternatives which are available. Neve Godfrey-Clark guides us through her top, sustainable period picks!
If you are aware, then you may be nervous to change your monthly routine of products after many years of using them. Lots of these products will also help to save money in the long run so they are great when on a student budget!
This article is here to guide you through each option and help you find which sustainable period product is right for you personally. Several amazing brands were generous enough to send free samples of their products for me and some friends to try and review for the readers of WILD, so I can make your life a bit easier (and a bit more green).
Periods are something very close to my heart as I am a part of Free The Flow York, a volunteering group aiming to end period poverty and stop the stigma around periods. If this sounds like something you may be interested in then please feel welcome to join us as we are always looking for more volunteers.
This brand sells a range of femcare products to help women get through their periods, some of which I have never come across before and are really different to other brands.
The products which I was lucky enough to try out were the menstrual cup, the menstrual cup foaming wash and the monthly patches. BeYou were also kind enough to give a discount code for WILD readers. Using the code WILD15 will give you 15% off the whole store until 29th March 2020. You can shop BeYou’s products on their website here.
About: BeYou’s menstrual cups come in two sizes which are medium and large. The right size for each woman will depend on her age and whether she has given birth vaginally. They claim to hold up to 3x as much blood as a tampon and can be safely worn for upto 12 hours. The cups are made from “100% soft medical-grade silicone” so contain no hazardous chemicals, unlike many tampons and pads!
Price: Both sizes of the BeYou menstrual cup are £14.99. One feature of the website allows you to calculate the savings you will make by investing in a menstrual cup, my estimated savings until menopause were £561, as well as saving 30.69kg of waste.
Using the product: The cup took me three attempts to insert it correctly, but once it was in there was no discomfort at all and I would even go as far as saying it was more comfortable than a tampon. The technique I used is known as the c-fold but there are lots of ways to try if this doesn’t work for you.
I even went for a swim with the cup in and had no issues with this at all, the cup stayed in place when I needed it to and was easy to remove. My menstrual cramps also seemed to be less intense than usual due to the cup. Overall I really enjoyed using it and didn’t face any issues. Instructions on insertion, removal and washing the cup can be found here.
Menstrual Cup Foaming Wash
About: This wash means that your menstrual cup can be used for up to 10 years. The formula is also vegan and suitable for sensitive skin, and will not disrupt the natural pH balance of your vagina.
Price: The wash retails at £9.99 for an 80ml bottle, and can also currently be bought in a set with the menstrual cup at a discounted price of £19.99
Using the product: BeYou claim that one bottle will last for up to 200 washes which makes sense as I found only a tiny amount is needed to clean the cup. The wash really helped to make me confident the cup was clean before reinserting. More information about using the wash can be found here.
About: The patches contain a number of essential oils including menthol and eucalyptus to create a cooling sensation and relax the muscles which cause menstrual cramps. They are designed to be thin and discreet to make wearing them as easy as possible, and as always are vegan, cruelty free and biodegradable.
Price: The patches come in packs of 5 for a price of £7.99 or can be ordered as a monthly as a subscription for £5.99
Using the product: The patches are really thin (similar to a plaster) meaning they can be worn under clothes throughout the day (as shown in the picture above). I enjoyed the tingly cooling effect they had and thought it was quite soothing, but found I still had to take painkillers to ease the pain as well. My cramps can be quite intense which is probably why these alone did not work, but I love the idea of them as an alternative to a hot water bottle.
Probably one of the most well known menstrual cup brands due to being the first medical grade silicone menstrual cup brand, launched in 2002.
Find out more about the Mooncup and buy one here.
About: The Mooncup also comes in two sizes, A for women who are over the age of 30 or who have given birth vaginally, and B for women under the age of 30 who have not given birth vaginally. Like the BeYou cup, it can also hold 3x as much as a tampon, is plastic free and money saving.
Price: Mooncups retail for £21.99 on their website, however they can be bought from Scoop in Wentworth on the University of York campus for only £16.11!
Using the product: Since I got sent a lot of different products to try I actually asked a friend to use the Mooncup instead and she reported back to me. She said overall she enjoyed using it and that it’s nice not having to worry about sleeping with a menstrual cup in since they can be worn safely for up to 12 hours.
She also liked that there was no worrying about buying tampons or pads like usual because you always have something to use. She did however note that it was harder to insert than a tampon and may be difficult to use and clean in public toilets.
ModiBodi Period Underwear
This brand started in 2013 on a mission to create “a beautiful and functional line of underwear that helped us feel safe, sassy and sustainable, all day”.
They have a range of reusable period underwear in tonnes of styles and colours, with different rates of absorbance to choose from depending on your flow.
They now even have period swimwear which blew my mind! ModiBodi were lovely enough to send me 2 styles of their period underwear to try out, these were the classic bikini with light/moderate absorbency and the classic bikini with overnight/heavy absorbency. If you were considering buying some period underwear it would be best to get at least 3 or 4 pairs to wear throughout your cycle as they needed to be washed and dried after each use. You can look at ModiBodi’s full range of period underwear here.
Classic bikini light/moderate absorbency
About: This style claims to absorb the same amount of blood as 2 tampons, and are recommended to use on light-medium flow days.
Using the product: The material of these was soooo soft, and the absorbent part of the underwear was much more thin and discreet than I had expected. I wore these for about 8 hours each day I tried them and they were always very comfortable to wear. I also experienced no trouble at all with leaks, and they felt more dry and clean to wear than I thought they might do. I also really liked the convenience of not having to think about pads or tampons while wearing these.
The heavy/overnight period underwear
Classic bikini heavy/overnight protection
About: This style is designed for days with a heavier flow or to wear overnight, they hold the equivalent amount of blood as 3-4 tampons.
Using the product: Again the underwear was very soft, and the absorbent part of this pair had a much bigger surface area than the light/moderate absorbency for increased protection. I wore these overnight twice and had no leaks either time, when I woke up in the morning they still felt clean and comfortable, much more than wearing a period pad overnight does.
This brand has made conventional period products such as pads, tampons, and liners environmentally friendly.
They have also created a whole new product called the tampliner, kind of like a tampon with a liner attached underneath.
Boxes of each product are available, or boxes of several products mixed together, these can be bought one or ordered as a monthly subscription to arrive on time before each period! There is also currently a 50% off your first box offer, and there is always a 20% student discount available.
I actually won these products in an Instagram giveaway so only received pads and liners as I could choose one type to be sent, so unfortunately can’t comment on the others. You can find out more and shop Callaly’s products here.
Callaly pads and liners
About: The pads, liners, and tampons from Callaly are all 100% biodegradable (tampliners are 95%) and are all made with 100% organic cotton.
Price: Boxes of one product are £9 for either, 16 pads, 16 tampliners, 24 tampons or 24 liners. Mixed product boxes come in small for £9 , medium for £12 and large for £16.
Using the product: The cotton pads and liners felt very soft, and were just as absorbent as mainstream pad brands which I normally use such as Always and Bodyform. It felt good knowing that even though they were a familiar type of product, I was still using a sustainable product.
Of course there are tonnes of other brands to try from and even other environmentally friendly period products such as reusable pads which unfortunately I can’t give a review on (yet), but I hope this has helped guide you in your next step to having a sustainable period! Thank you to all the brands for sending me products and for helping save the environment!
About the author: Neve is a social media assistant for WILD magazine and is in second year studying sociology. She is also the social media coordinator for Free The Flow York.