Having so many sanitary options when it comes to our periods is a privilege many Australian women take for granted.
But with this privilege comes choice, and the power to reduce the waste produced by disposable menstrual items.
According to ABC News, the average Australian woman uses 10,000-12,000 pads or tampons in a lifetime. And because the majority of sanitary products sold in Australia contain plastic, this equates to approximately 120kg of waste per person that comes to float in our oceans or is left in our landfill.
It’s not a pretty stat, but it’s one that can certainly be altered by our habits.
Plastic-free and biodegradable disposables
An easy swap to make is to look for tampons and pads that are biodegradable and limit the amount of plastic in packaging.
In the UK and US, it’s the more common plastic applicators that pose a big problem, as plastic can take over 500 years to break down.
In comparison, Lotus Eco’s biodegradable tampons take 180 days to break down, and are compostable too.
Lotus Eco Regular Tampons 15 Pack, $12 at lotus.eco
An even greener way to go is menstrual cups.
Made of a bendy silicone, these reusable contraptions eliminate disposable waste almost entirely, and are long-lasting when taken care of.
The eco-friendly solution collects blood rather than absorbs it, so it can be emptied, washed and reused.
It can take a little bit of getting used to but has the bonus of being cost-effective too.
The DivaCup Menstrual Cup, $53.95 at chemistwarehouse.com.au
Menstrual discs are similar to menstrual cups, the main difference being the shape and where they sit once inserted.
Menstrual discs are shallower in design and sit higher in the vaginal canal, so that sex is still possible while it’s in place.
Both reusable menstrual discs and cups can typically be worn for up to 12 hours.
INTIMINA Ziggy Cup, $59.95 at intimina.com
If you’ve preferred pads for years, period underwear allows for similar comfort and ease, without the waste.
Good quality period underwear will look and feel quite similar to a regular pair, but has an absorbent lining to prevent leaks, smells and moisture.
You won’t feel wet, or like you’re wearing a nappy – in fact Modibodi’s lining is only 3mm thick but can still hold up to four tampons worth of liquid.
They just require a cold wash for care and should be hung dry, ready for use again. And with proper care, one pair can last up to two years.
Modibodi Classic Bikini Moisture Wicking, $23.50 at modibodi.com
There’s also the option of reusable cloth pads. These are typically made from a soft cotton, which can feel more comfortable and gentle than its traditional counterpart.
They adhere to your underwear using similar technology to non-slip socks, with silicone grip dots that grasp to material.
Machine washable, once clean and dry the pads can be reused, although stain removal can be a slight drawback (but a non-issue for Napisan wizards!).
hannah:PAD Fresh Starter Kit, $71.85 at hannahpad.com.au