10 Sustainable Period Products You'll Actually Use

Good for the planet, good for your wallet.

red menstrual cup on a white satchet
(Image credit: Getty)

Did you know that the average menstruating person uses between 5 and 15 thousand pads and tampons in their lifetime? Not only does this add up, resulting in what's known as the Tampon Tax, but those menstrual products end up in landfills and in our oceans and waterways. Many of those products contain chlorine, dioxin, and other chemicals that are harmful to the environment and potentially to our bodies. Plus, the plastic applicators from most tampons take hundreds of years to decompose (meaning that your tampons will outlive you...and your kids...and potentially their kids). For these reasons, I've personally made the choice to switch over to sustainable menstrual products like period underwear, menstrual cups, and menstrual discs, and I'm so glad I did.

With the effects of climate change growing increasingly severe (and increasingly difficult to ignore), there is a growing movement to encourage individuals to make more sustainable choices in their everyday lives. It's important to point out that large corporations like ExxonMobil and Shell have a greater responsibility to make better choices than we individual consumers do, being that just 100 companies are responsible for over 70 percent of climate change. However, if we collectively choose to use sustainable products in our daily routines instead of products that include plastic packaging or produce harmful waste, then we can use our dollars to encourage companies to produce more eco-friendly products and ditch their wasteful ways.

So here's to using menstruation as an avenue to be more sustainable in our daily routines and to encourage large corporations to follow suit. Below, check out some of my favorite products that have saved me money, time, and hopefully can play some role in saving Mother Earth. 

The Menstrual Cup

The period cup, with its longwear potential and reusability, has long been at the forefront of the sustainable menstrual product movement. It's inserted and removed like a tampon, but can be worn for up to 12 hours—which means you can even wear it while you sleep!

Period Panties

I was pretty skeptical when I first heard about period panties. Sitting around all day while I bled all over my clothing? No, thank you.

But when I finally opened my mind enough to try period underwear, these products changed my life (or at least my menstrual cycle) forever. These panties are made of super-absorbent, super-washable fabric, so you don't have to worry about leaks or bleeding through them. It's also so nice to just feel normal when I'm getting my period—to not have to worry about changing my pad, waddling around when I'm getting dressed to look for a pad or tampon, or having to stick something into my vagina throughout the day.

Long live the period panty.

Sustainable Menstrual Discs

Menstrual discs have gained tremendous popularity in recent years because of the rare novelty they're able to offer: Mess-free period sex. Many of these discs, however, are single-use, so while many can be worn for up to 12 hours and therefore reduce the volume of menstrual-related waste (in 12 hours, I can go through several pads or tampons) they take up space in landfills anyway.

Enter the reusable menstrual disc, and we have a healthy, mess-free, and environmentally-friendly solution to the period sex quandary. 

Reusable Pads

Like many women, I use pads as my go-to when I'm sleeping or just relaxing at home. However, they pile up in landfills, cost a ton of money (especially after decades of having to buy them on a near-monthly basis) and, let's be honest, they often feel like diapers. Instead, consider these reusable fabric pads, which are washable, effective, and infinitely softer than their single-use counterparts.

Sustainable Tampons

While the above options work for many women, others have a hard time, after almost a lifetime of tampon use, quitting these tried-and-true products. As a result, some menstrual companies have responded by making chlorine-free, organic, biodegradable options that use little-to-no plastic, like these options below.

Gabrielle Ulubay
Gabrielle Ulubay

Gabrielle Ulubay is an E-Commerce Writer at Marie Claire and writes about all things fashion and beauty. She's also written about politics, gender, and sex for publications like Bustle, HuffPost Personal, and The New York Times. As a film school graduate, she loves all things media and can be found making art when she's not busy writing.