Every year, over 12 billion disposable menstrual pads and tampons are thrown away in the U.S. That’s huge!
While these products are really convenient, there’s just no way around the fact that they are costly to the environment in terms of expanding landfills and use of natural resources, not to mention dollars from our wallets. Individually, we women can expect to spend several thousand dollars over the course of our lifetime on this disposable paper/plastic product that typically is not biodegradable.
There ARE good options out there.
Cloth pads: The benefit of cloth menstrual pads are comfort, reusability and lower cost over your lifetime (though the initial expense, if you decide to purchase them, can seem a bit high). You can always make your own cloth menstrual pads. There are a lot of patterns online.
I can recommend Party in My Pants as an excellent product due to the variety of sizes and the leak-resistant backing. They are really fun and cute, too.
I can also recommend GladRags, which are thicker, more absorbent and perhaps more accident-proof. (Some women may not like the thickness.) I love that they offer kits that include cleaning products and organic fabrics. They have a starter set for teens.
You’ll find that a lot of companies and individuals (see Etsy) are making these products so if you like to support small businesses and individual creators, your money is doing twice the good. (While surfing around, I discovered this one – my favorite name: Happy Heinie’s.)
Menstrual Cup: This is worn internally. The Moon Cup and The Keeper Cup are made in the U.S.A. and come in medical-grade silicone or natural gum rubber. You only need to purchase one, so it’s less costly than the pads.
In my experience the cup is somewhat hard to insert and not so comfortable, but I think that may be a function of one’s individual anatomy. That’s the downside. The upside is that if you have very heavy flow, you may find that this offers superior evening protection. You can use it instead of or in addition to a cloth pad.
This kind of paper waste is no small matter. If it seems expensive, start small by buying or making one each month until you have just the right number. Think about giving it as a gift to a daughter living on a tight budget. What other gift can you give that would save her so much money over her lifetime?