Every year in the UK, the disposal of single-use menstrual products – pads, tampons and applicators – generates more than 200,000 tonnes of waste. When it comes to single-use period products in particular though, that’s not the only shocking stat, as 90 per cent of a menstrual pad is made of plastic and menstrual products can take up to 500 years to break down in landfill.
Luckily, there is some good news. With more choice than ever before, there are a number of brands offering eco-friendly alternatives, from organic cotton tampons with plant-based applicators to stylish period underwear that you’ll actually want to wear even when you’re not on your flow. Then there’s the menstrual cup – a key investment for those wanting to reduce their period waste to the minimum.
Although, each person who menstruates has their own preferences, be it tampons, pads, a cup or period-proof underwear, with so many options out there, it’s never been so easy to make the swap from the plastic loaded versions.
If going completely zero-waste is too much to begin with, start by making small changes. Opt for 100 per cent organic tampons or period pads made of bamboo. Try experimenting with period-proof underwear or reusable sanitary towels – simply rinse them out in cold water when you’re done and throw them in the washing machine (but hold the fabric conditioner).
If you’re thinking of trying out a menstrual cup, we’d recommend taking your time to do a bit of research. There a range of options out there for whatever you’re looking for – be it an extra small size or a version you can wear during sex – you’re sure to find a cup that’s right for you.
Switching to eco-friendly period products can seem pricey at first, but with reusable items, for example, you’re making an investment that will actually reduce the cost of your periods over time.
It’s estimated that each person who has a period will spend approximately £492 per year on sanitary products. In comparison, a menstrual cup costs around £20 and, with proper care, can last up to a decade. There are also some great resources online, such as a guide and pattern from the Women’s Environment Network, which details how to make your own reusable sanitary pads.
To help you find the right eco-period products, we’ve tested some of the leading brands.
The best sustainable period products for 2022 are:
- Best overall – Wuka perform seamless midi brief: £23.99, Wuka.co.uk
- Best for period-proof workouts – Thinx cycle shorts: £29.82, Shethinx.com
- Best sustainable menstrual cup – Saalt cup: £25, Saaltco.uk
- Best plant-based applicator tampons – Flo organic eco-applicator tampons, regular and super pack of 14: £3.60, Boots.com
- Best reusable tampon applicator – Dame reusable applicator set: £23.79, Wearedame.com
- Best cup for people with a low cervix – Bettercup: £20, Thebettercompany.com
- Best period pants – Pantys bikini: £30, Pantys.com
- Best organic cotton pads – Lunette reusable pads mix: £27.50, Lunette.com
- Best CBD tampons – Daye CBD and naked tampons: £5.60, Yourdaye.com
- Best period subscription box – Callaly period starter kit: £10.80, Calla.ly
- Best reusable pad for mums – Fern reusable pad (regular): £6.50, Ticke-tots.com
- Best for giving back – Hey Girls organic tampons with cardboard applicator: £4.10, Heygirls.co.uk
- Best reusable pants – Modibodi detachable bikini: £21.00, Modibodi.co.uk
- Best sustainable budget option – Natracare regular applicator tampons: £2.87, Hollandandbarrett.com