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Sanitary items

There are convenient, cost-effective alternatives available people can choose with confidence while making a positive impact on your health and the environment. 

What you can do

Consider reusable options like period undies or menstrual cups that suit your lifestyle and personal preferences.

How you can do it

With a range of reusable alternatives, it’s become easier to find products that suit everyone’s needs. Some people even use a combination of options depending on their activity levels and changes to menstrual flow

Washable pads and liners are a popular choice, which are both durable and absorbent. There are a range of options available online or through select health retailers. Some pads come with buttons to ensure they stay attached to your underwear.

The menstrual cup has become increasingly popular. The cup is inserted like a tampon, and typically needs to be emptied and washed a couple of times a day. In many places around the world, periods are still a taboo subject. Affiliate partner of the Plastic Free Foundation, Ruby Cup helps by giving women access to menstrual cups and reproductive health education. 

Another option is period undies. They are a stress-free alternative to single-use tampons and pads and feel comparable to wearing normal underwear. Now popularised to the point of being mainstream, period undies contain moisture-wicking fabric. After use, you simply need to rinse them out in cold water and then add to your normal wash.

Taking the next steps

Period undies and washable pads or liners are also handy for light bladder leakage. Some people have also made the switch to period swimwear – a popular option for teens.

Choosing natural materials and avoiding plastic-based products such as microfibre for reusable pads ensures a totally plastic-free solution. There are also a range of social enterprise and ethical online stores that deliver sustainability benefits beyond reducing plastic.

The impact

  • A person using single-use applicators, tampons, and sanitary pads will buy over 10,000 in a lifetime with each one containing single-use plastic. Aside from creating landfill, a huge number of sanitary products are flushed down the toilet, blocking sewerage pipes and waste water treatment plants.
  • Cost comparisons show that reusables including pads, menstrual cups and period undies will cost significantly less than single-use items. Reusables can help 
  • Natural fibre reusables reduce the risk of skin irritation while helping to protect the environment.

More ideas

What others do

Glass of lemonade, bunch of straws and a plastic juice bottle

To find plastic free ideas, take the Plastic Free July challenge

Reusable carry bag, keep cups and bamboo cutlery
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