What's the first thing you think of when you hear "sustainability"? Anti-fast-fashion campaigns? Eating organic and shopping local? Reduce, reuse, recycle? Well, what about getting your period? Yeah, not so much.
Menstruation is something that once it starts happening, you just kind of go along with it. Sure, it catches us by surprise every once in a while. But rarely do you ever just sit there and think about the impact that your period has on the world around you. More often than not, you're trying to do things to distract you from your period while it's happening. It's also probably not the time when you're thinking about switching it up and trying something new.
I've been getting my period for a decade (so weird to think about), but I've barely ever changed my monthly routine. It wasn't until this year that I starting think that maaaybe using a ton of plastic applicators probably isn't the best thing I could be doing. Yet at the same time, the thought of using cardboard applicators made me cringe.
I recently took a leap of faith and decided to try a menstrual cup. It's something that I've wanted to try for a long time, but for some reason, I just couldn't imagine doing that every month. I mean, it just sounds so unnecessarily messy and kinda weird to have to reach all up in there every time.
One thing is for sure — you definitely have to be comfortable with yourself to use a cup. If your own body freaks you out, and at first it honestly kind of freaked me out, it helps to center yourself and think why. Why am I uncomfortable with this, and what's making me feel weird about my own body parts? Definitely helps to do some reflection if this is something you can relate to. It'll also help you relax more, which is key during the process. I definitely suggest testing it out for the first time when you're not on your period, just so you're prepared when it does come and you're not under any extra pressure.
Not going to lie and say it was all easy and worked the first time. I was even kind of sore after trying to get it right for an hour. But, the next day it came more naturally, and since using it for a whole cycle, I don't think I'll ever switch back to tampons! Once you get the hang of it, the 12-hour non-leak wear is a huge plus, along with the money you'll save even after just a few months. I have the Cora cup, and other popular brands include Saalt, Diva Cup, Intimina and Flex.
If you're not quite ready to try out a cup or don't think it's the right fit for you, there are a few more options that are also sustainable!
There are a ton of different brands now that offer period panties — underwear that can absorb a day's period that you can then wash. If you haven't checked these out, you might be as surprised as I was to find that, no, this doesn't mean wearing granny panties. There are styles from all ranges like hiphugger, cheeky, thong, bikini, boyshort and more. Some of them even have some lace to make you feel extra cute, and they're definitely a wearable option! The only downside is that they tend not to be as absorbent as a disposable pad, but they're great if you have a light flow or want it as a backup. Popular brands include Ruby Love, Knix, Thinx and Bambody.
Reusable pads are another eco-friendly option that will also save you some money in the long run. These are also surprisingly super cute, and a lot of brands make them in fun colors and patterns (it's the little things, right?). Aisle (previously Lunapads), Charlie Banana, Rael and Etsy offer lots of amazing options.
More of a tampon person? You might want to consider switching to a more sustainable brand. Yes, this means getting rid of the one-use plastic applicators, but I promise there are some interesting options available! There are a bunch of organic, biodegradable tampon brands like Flo, Lola and Oi. Not only are these free of any potentially harmful chemicals, but they are also healthier for farms since pesticide is not being used on the cotton, and they can be composted instead of filling up landfills or sewers. Another interesting option is the Dame Reusable Tampon Applicator. This can be used with any applicator-free tampon to provide a more eco-friendly option if you prefer using a plastic applicator.
There truly is a more sustainable option no matter what method works best for you. I now swear by my cup, and it inspired me to spread the word to anyone else who has thought about shifting to something more eco-friendly. Next month, check one of these products out and give them a try!