What are reusable period products and why should I think about switching?

picture of hands holding a menstrual cup with text saying sustainable periods

Contributed by Amanda Rossell

Period products are an essential for 18 million people in the UK. In total, the average person will use around 11,000 disposables in their lifetime. We all know that plastic is a huge problem with plastic products taking up to a thousand years to decompose. However, lots of people don’t know that some disposable period products are 90% plastic. An incredible amount of these products isn’t disposed of correctly and ends up being flushed, which can result in further pollution in the ocean.

So, we know disposables aren’t great for the environment – but they’re safe to use, right? Well, maybe not. Studies have found that chlorine and dioxin (one of the most toxic substances known to humankind) can still be found in pads and tampons. As if that wasn’t enough, traces of pesticides and insecticides have also been found in tampons as well as glyphosate (a probable carcinogen and ingredient in weed killer) have been found in pads, tampons, and panty liners.

Disposable period products really are a triple threat - considering that no person with a period chooses to have that pleasure, they’ll buy an average of £18,450 worth of disposable period products over a lifetime! So, what’s the alternative?

You have a few options to choose from with reusable period products: a menstrual cup, sanitary pads/ liners and period pants. A menstrual cup is a small flexible cup usually made from silicone or rubber, which is folded and inserted so that it sits just below the cervix. Cups can be washed simply with soap and water at the end of the day. Generally, if you are used to using tampons, the cup could be a good option for you. And the best part about cups is that you only need to buy one – they’re around £10 and they can be used again and again for all your periods.

Reusable sanitary pads or liners are often made from layers of cloth or flannelled material which clip to your underwear. They are super-absorbant and gentle on your skin, and they are often hand-made with a wide range of patterns available. In terms of washing, you can just rinse them or pop them into your washing machine. If you’re used to using disposable pads, these are a great option because they work in a very similar way. You can find sets of pads for around £40 so they’re a tad more expensive but once you’ve got them, they can be reused for all your future period needs.

Period pants are essentially a pair of underwear with a built-in pad. They come in various sizes, flows and designs to fit your needs. They can be a great option for night-time as there’s no risk of leaks or slippage. The slight downside is that they can be a little bit price-ier with a pair of period pants costing around £20. But again, they’re an investment!

At Love Essex, we’re putting together a reusable period products campaign which is set to launch in September 2021. But we want to hear from you first! We need your opinion in order to make our campaign as impactful as possible. And by completing our survey, you could be in with the chance of winning our care package giveaway! More details about the competition can be found here.










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