You are not quite sure whe­ther a zero waste mens­trua­tion is the right fit for you or not? Here are seven good rea­sons to make your mens­trua­tion more sus­tainable. And we are here for you if you have any fur­ther ques­ti­ons or need tips! But to be honest, every begin­ning is hard and other pro­ducts natu­rally bring a chal­lenge or two with them. That’s why you’ll also find three down­si­des of reus­able alter­na­ti­ves below. But let’s start with the advan­ta­ges of an eco-friendly friendly period first!

1. Waste reduction: For the sake of the environment

More and more mens­trua­ting people are loo­king for alter­na­ti­ves to tra­di­tio­nal dis­po­sable items. Rea­son num­ber 1 is the pro­tec­tion of our envi­ron­ment, i.e. avoiding (plastic) waste. Espe­cially mini­ma­lists and people who fol­low a sus­tainable life­style are enthu­si­astic about reus­able opti­ons during their period. And the rea­sons are obvious. All they pro­bably need is a mens­trual cup, a few fab­ric panty liners or a pair of period under­wear. I would say that this is as close as we can get to a zero waste mens­trua­tion (unless we prac­tice free blee­ding, of course).

2. Good for your genital area

Espe­cially people whose skin is more sen­si­tive in the geni­tal area appre­ciate the cosi­ness and com­fort of natu­ral mate­ri­als of period pan­ties or was­ha­ble pads. Finally, there is no more unplea­sant plastic and no more sti­cky strips bet­ween your legs all day long. The vagina can brea­the pro­perly again! Also your vagi­nal flora will thank you for it. Because unlike tam­pons, mens­trual cups do not dry out the mucous mem­bra­nes or bring your pH-value out of balance. They merely catch the mens­trual blood. And did you know that many tam­pons are bleached? Manu­fac­tu­rers of tam­pons do not have to state the ingre­dients of the pro­ducts on the pack­a­ging. Crazy, right?

3. You are getting to know your body better

If you are using reus­able mens­trual pro­ducts, you will get to know yourself bet­ter. Because often these alter­na­ti­ves require a more inten­sive enga­ge­ment with yourself, your body and your period. This will give you a bet­ter fee­ling for what hap­pens inside your body during mens­trua­tion. It also means that we can ‘con­trol’ our peri­ods in a bet­ter way, because we have a more com­plete under­stan­ding of them. With a mens­trual cup, for example, you can easily get an over­view of how much mens­trual blood you are really losing or what colour your mens­trual blood is (spoi­ler: not blue, as we are unfor­tu­n­a­tely so often shown in adver­ti­se­ments). These inter­ac­tions can also help to deve­lop a deeper appre­cia­tion and gra­ti­tude for your own body. Last but not least, con­sciously expe­ri­en­cing and con­trol­ling your body is the first step towards free blee­ding.

4. No more stress with empty tampon packages

Reus­able alter­na­ti­ves can reduce stress around your period. Because once you have inves­ted in a sus­tainable pro­duct, you can use it (again) at any time and you don’t have to face the dilemma that the tam­pon box is empty exactly when you urgently need one. Espe­cially if you tend to have irre­gu­lar peri­ods, there will be no more unplea­sant sur­pri­ses. You can easily wear mens­trual under­wear even when you don’t have your period. And mens­trual cups are also quickly and easily car­ried in any bag.

5. A happy menstruation with bright colors & patterns

Tra­di­tio­nal dis­po­sable mens­trual pro­ducts are often rather ste­rile, func­tio­nal and boring. In the sus­tainable mens­trual world, howe­ver, there are almost no limits to your ima­gi­na­tion! Mens­trual cups or cloth pads are often colour­ful or full of pat­terns. Mens­trual under­wear is now also avail­able in many dif­fe­rent shapes, colours and above all designs! The styles range from thongs to hips­ter or sexy pan­ties to boxers? Here all gen­der iden­ti­ties will find the right under­wear for them­sel­ves. And if you and your mens­trua­tion just don’t have the best rela­ti­ons­hip, maybe it’s good to at least be able to wear nice period panties?

6. Excercising and flying? Anything is possible!

Whe­ther you are more of a home­body or tra­vel a lot, an eco-friendly period is also pos­si­ble on the go! Mens­trual cups can be espe­cially use­ful for excer­cis­ing, swim­ming, long walks or tra­ve­ling. Due to their rather large capa­city, they usually do not have to be chan­ged as often as dis­po­sable pro­ducts. They give you more fle­xi­bi­lity and inde­pen­dence, as it is no lon­ger necessary to take a spare one with you. Sim­ply empty them, wash them and use them again. This is also very con­ve­ni­ent for lon­ger hikes out in the nature.

7. Rejection of large companies & support of start-ups

You no lon­ger feel like enri­ching the big com­pa­nies every month by buy­ing dis­po­sable pro­ducts? Then there is good news! Often the alter­na­ti­ves are rather brought to the mar­ket by star­tups or social busi­nes­ses. The mon­thly sale of dis­po­sable arti­cles is much more pro­fi­ta­ble than sel­ling a cup every 10 years. The young star­tups, howe­ver, put a lot of heart and soul into the deve­lo­p­ment of the pro­ducts and are really happy about every sin­gle sale.

Three challenges during an eco-friendly period

Even if the rea­sons for using reus­able alter­na­ti­ves, in my opi­nion, clearly out­weigh other pro­ducts, there are of course, as always, some more unplea­sant aspects of it as well. And we don’t want to with­hold these from you! At first sight, dis­po­sable pro­ducts are often easier to use, because sus­tainable opti­ons can some­ti­mes be a bit more com­pli­ca­ted to manage. But it’s not all that bad if you have lear­ned the way of doing it after a while. But here are three small chal­len­ges of an eco-friendly period.

1. Cleaning

In order to be able to use the eco-friendly period pro­ducts again and again, they have to be was­hed pro­perly. As you pro­bably know, it is not too easy to remove the mens­trual blood from fab­rics. But with the right know­ledge, it is, in the end, quite mana­ge­able.
Mens­trual under­wear and cloth pads, for example, have to be rin­sed briefly with cold water (pre­fer­a­bly by hand) after wea­ring them. Then they can be put in the washing machine  and be was­hed tog­e­ther with your other clothes. Mens­trual cups also need a little more clea­ning. So before and after your period you should boil the cup once in water for a few minu­tes. When the cup is fil­led while, it should be care­fully emp­tied in the toi­let and was­hed with water.

2. Changing reusable products on the go

Depen­ding on the pro­duct and its absor­bency, the blood-soa­ked sub­sti­tues may still have to be car­ried home. In this case, pre­pa­ra­tion is ever­ything: sim­ply bring appro­priate leak-proof bags with you. Then it is no pro­blem. And mens­trual cups, for example, can just be clea­ned and was­hed with water without a pro­blem while on the road. And if you are using public toi­lets? All the bet­ter! Face your fears and actively break the taboo around mens­trua­tion by sim­ply washing the cup in the sink. Because mens­trua­tion and the blood that goes with it are some­thing com­ple­tely nor­mal! So don’t be afraid to show your mens­trual blood in public. Defy the mar­ke­ting messages of large com­pa­nies and be anything but discreet.

3. Prices can still be somewhat expensive

Unfor­tu­n­a­tely, the dis­ad­van­tage of period under­wear is that the mar­ket for it is still quite small and they are the­re­fore rela­tively expen­sive. It is advi­s­able to own several period pan­ties. This is because the under­wear has to be was­hed and dried after wea­ring it before it can be used again. Unfor­tu­n­a­tely, buy­ing several period pants can be a bit expen­sive and not ever­yone can afford it. This is a chal­lenge, because it is a ‘pay to join’ approach. It is not fair when people are exclu­ded from social move­ments, such as the mens­trual revo­lu­tion, because of high pri­ces. Other pro­ducts, such as the cup, are for­tu­n­a­tely much che­a­per and there it is really just a sin­gle invest­ment that will be with you and your period for the next ten years.

In the end: You decide!

Advan­ta­ges and dis­ad­van­ta­ges of an eco-friendly period back and forth. At the end of the day YOU decide how to manage your mens­trua­tion and what feels right for your body! We are only here to give you some impul­ses and show you alter­na­tive possibilities.

 Happy bleeding!

Britta Wiebe, period education, Vulvani
Co-Foun­der Vulvani | | Web­site | + posts

Britta Wiebe is the co-foun­der of Vul­vani. She loves rese­ar­ching, wri­ting and designing new arti­cles or inno­va­tive edu­ca­tio­nal con­cepts about mens­trua­tion all day long. When she is not tra­vel­ling the world, she enjoys spen­ding time with her loved ones in the beau­ti­ful city of Ham­burg in Germany.