So we are reviewing the changes we have made over the last three years to reduce plastic and as a result, waste, in our lives to mark Plastic Free July. Top of the list without a doubt in terms of the one that makes us a little bit happy every time we do it, has to be introducing using reusable period pants! Not the easiest change, but so worth it.
Why is this top of the list – because when you consider the sheer amount of plastic that is produced, flushed, thrown and processed in a woman’s life time with absolutely no positive impact on anyone or anything, it is quite frankly mind blowing! And it is as easy to eradicate it in almost in its entirety with this simple change!
Here are some shocking stats courtesy of City to Sea – check out their website by the way, for lots of great information!
- A big-brand pack of 14 menstrual pads contains the same amount of plastic as 5 carrier bags.
- 200,000 tonnes of menstrual waste landfilled each year in the UK.
Around 2.5 million tampons, 1.4 million pads and 700,000 panty liners are flushed every single day here in the UK!
By switching to reusable period products you could save up to 94% of your lifetime spend on disposables.
Obviously reusing anything that you usually dispose of is going to reduce waste, but when you see these stats, you understand why this is a good one to hit first!
Happily there are several ways of approaching this particular conundrum. For us it was as simple as ‘investing’ in the most simple of concepts – reusable period pants. They look like normal pants, they act like normal pants, but they are far from normal. The best thing about them is that they have a secondary use if you have pelvic floor issues – and are a runner …like me…need I say more!? As an added bonus, a lot of the manufacturers have now branched out into swimwear as well – I really can’t wait to try those!
Yes, they can seem pricey at first, but do the sums! Over three years they have easily paid for themselves in terms of what we pay for disposable products, and then there’s the processing costs after the facts and of course the resources used to produce them! And waste isn’t the only reason to consider changing – just think about what you might be putting inside your body!
This video will tell you all about why it’s a good idea to think seriously about the change!
We have used both gone straight for reusable pants as I say, but there are several other options. For us we went straight to Wuka pants and also Modibodi pants and would recommend either in terms of reliability. They both have different sizes, weights and styles, teen options and much more – Modibodi have some really pretty ones too and most suppliers sell bundles.
And I say ‘we’ because Emily and I have independently come gone on the same journey! Wuka Pants also do a fantastic autism friendly guide and their founder has a beautiful story. But there are lots of different brands, and the most important thing is to go for what works for you, maybe try some different ones, and know that it’s all about personal preference!
When it comes to washing them, I find the easiest thing is to keep them in a cloth bag and then wash them separately on a cold wash. If you have more questions, then our lovely friends at City to Sea have the answers right there!
We also firmly believe, particularly as the mothers of daughters, that we should be introducing this concept to a new generation, as well as celebrating that which marks our journey into womanhood. Lots of the manufacturers have special products for teens and we simply love Ruby Love’s concept. And once again, bravo to City to Sea for providing an amazing resource for schools to use in their Rethink Periods online training programme.
The Options and Combinations
Reusable pants aren’t the only option, or you can also opt for a combination that works for you. In no particularly order, here are the choices and/or combinations available to you!
- Reusable period pants – they do what they say on the tin – use as you would normal pants! Often you only need to use one pair a day, and you can obviously use in combination with other solutions. Good Housekeeping have just published their full guide to what’s what! Perfect timing, although it is the US version and they do call them ‘panties’!
- Reusable sanitary pads – less of a leap for many but similar to the above, lots and lots of different ones out there – we defer to The Sun for their rundown on some options as we haven’t actually tried any ourselves. There are lots of home made versions out there too and if you are a sewer you could even try making your own!
- Menstrual cups – not for everyone – but adored by those that do!
- Reusable tampon applicators – a new concept, but why not – it all helps, and means that if you really want to, you can still use a tampon responsibly.
And if you do need to use something disposable on certain days as a back up, then we would recommend you use something organic. We tend to use because Hey Girls – organic, biodegradable, including the ‘plastic’ wrappers, and have a ‘buy one give one’ programme in support of period poverty in the UK.
To help you in your decision making, this video from @hubbubuk is fantastic!
So there it is in a nutshell – the single greatest change in our humble opinion you can make to your consumer habits in terms of volume of plastic waste.
If you have any questions at all, we understand you may not want to make those publicly available, so please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org any time.
If you’d like to share your experiences with others, we’d be delighted to hear about those below.