many tampons lined up and one menstrual cup

5 Sustainable Options for Feminine Hygiene

Week 12

A woman has, on average, about 450 periods in her lifetime, the average woman using about 9,600 tampons. This is both an enourmous amount of period waste sent to landfills, and a hefty amount of cash spent on single-use items. Here are five sustainable alternatives to keep your trash can empty and your bank account full.

Menstrual Cups

Saalt brand menstrual cup with packaging

A menstrual cup is inserted similar to a tampon, but instead of absorbing, it collects the blood until you take it out to empty and clean. Most cups can be left in around 10-12 hours, but varies based on your individual cycle. Menstrual cups range from $10-$30 and can be used for up to 10 years or until it shows visible signs of wear and tear. Popular brands include Saalt, Organicup, and DivaCup. As with any hygiene product, you may have to do some expirementing to see which works best for you.

Reusable cloth pads and panty liners

green cloth pad

A cloth pad works exactly like a regular pad, except instead of sticking it to your underwear, you snap or button it closed. And instead of throwing it in the trash after you use, you can wash and reuse it. Popular brands include Tree Hugger, Lunapads, and my personal favorite, Glad Rags. Feeling Crafty? Why not make your own cloth pad!

Period underwear and clothes

a black pair and grey pair of panties

Period underwear are worn like regular panties, but with the added benefit of absorbing one to four tampons worth of menstruation. It may sound too good to be true, but I've heard many first hand accounts of success without having to use any other feminine hygiene products. Period underwear ranges from $20-$50, but can be washed and worn for years. Some companies even offer absorbant clothing options. Popular brands include Thinx, Lunapads, and Knix.

Biodegradable tampons

box of Natracare brand tampons

If your desperate to stick with what you know, give biodegradable tampons a try. They might still come with plastic wrapping, but there are a few options that are 100% cotton and ditch the plastic applicator. Popular brands include o.b. and Natracare.

Reusable tampon applicator

Dame brand reusable tampon applicator

If you've opted for biodegradable tampons, but miss the applicator, you can get a reusable one. A reusable applicator is simply a case that fits any size tampon to make insertion a little easier. Popular brands include Dame and Thinx.

How to Make a Reusable Cloth Pad →