Tried and tested: Eco-friendly period products

Jenessa Williams

Being kinder to the earth while on your period is certainly an attractive option, but is it realistically affordable? We take a look

As we grow wiser to fears of climate change, it’s becoming clear that menstruation management is putting a strain on the planet. With the average woman using over 11,000 disposable sanitary products in a lifetime, and the average tampon taking longer to degrade than the lifespan of the woman who wears it, we’re generating a worrying amount of waste with every cycle.

Naturally, the process of menstruation is a very private business, and no great change can be made overnight. But as various menstrual health brands offer alternative, reusable products, the market for eco-sanitary wear has never been bigger. As that “time of the month” rolled round, we put three market leaders to the test to see which had the best potential to usurp tampons and towels.

 

Intimina Lily Cup One (approx 14.99)

Mooncups have been big news for quite some time, but for first-time users, the market can be rather intimidating—there’s simply so much choice! Intimina seek to recognise this with their beginner model, the Lily Cup One—the world’s first collapsible model, it folds into a discreet carry case that is still easy to find in your bag thanks to it’s cheerful pink colour.

Inserting a menstrual cup can take some getting used to, but with practice, the soft silicon proves to be comfortable to use, folding easily before popping open to form a gentle seal around your cervix. If you’re struggling, consider using some form of lubrication, or waiting for a heavier day—moisture helps significantly with easy insertion.

Placed correctly, the Lily Cup claims to provide up to 12 hours of protection, and upon trial, this suggestion proves reasonable—the cup is used overnight on a heavy cycle with no leakage, and the small loop at the end helps with removing even a very full-cup. Simply pour the contents into the toilet, rinse and then re-insert (making sure to sterilise in hot water at the end of your cycle).

For those who work from home or have a private bathroom for rinsing, the Lily Cup is an easy switch from tampons—if not, consider taking a small water bottle into the cubicle with you for easy rinsing.

 

Bloom & Nora Cotton Bamboo Towels (from £4.99)

Looking for an easy switch? Bloom and Nora’s cotton bamboo towels work in exactly the same way as your usual sanitary pad but can be popped in your washing machine once you’re done thanks to their easy-clean.

Clad in bold, vibrant patterns they’re certainly a lot more fun than the disposable ones, but lose some points for being significantly bulkier—even the midi size feels fairly cumbersome, and leaves an outline that is visible in tight trousers.

Nonetheless, the bamboo fabric is soft and the poppers stay in place, perfect for overnight use or under a looser outfit. Our “heavy” towel holds up well, but experiment with fits, shapes and styles to best suit your frequency. Bloom & Nora offer the “full kit boudoir” for ardent fans looking to entirely replace their sanitary “wardrobe”.

 

ModiBodi Period Proof Underwear (from £15)

Perhaps the most suspiciously-eyed sanitary product on the market, “Period Pants” may seem like something of a regression to nappyhood—how could they possibly feel uncomfortable?

Upon unfolding a pair of ModiBodi’s knickers, all fears instantly subside. Well-cut, impossibly soft and rather stylish with their sleek branded waistband, they are marketing as appropriate for all kinds of bodily fluids, whether that be a leaky bladder, gym perspiration or indeed, your monthly period.

We trial both the classic bikini (heavy/overnight absorbency) and the classic thong (super light absorbency), and both cope extremely well with their suggested fluid limit, with no bulkiness or restriction.

Opting for our usual dress size, they fit reassuringly snugly without being tight, and do indeed withdraw any absorbency to the inner layer, staying dry to the touch inside. Much like Bloom & Nora’s pads, you can simply rinse in cool water when they’re full, and then pop in the washing machine.

Best of all, there’s a huge choice of colours and cuts to choose from—far from feeling like you’re wearing something specialist, their thoughtful designs cater to a huge array of body shapes and personal needs.

Next order—their swimwear range, gym leggings and even their teenage-specific section, which helps fund period products for women’s shelters in the UK and worldwide.

 

The verdict

With so much choice available, there’s bound to be a reusable sanitary system to suit your needs. Cleaning and re-using these products may seem tricky or even off-putting at first, but the benefit is two-fold—not only are you saving the planet, but it becomes much easier to know your body and react to it’s changes when using reusable products rather than simply “binning the evidence”.

Many brands offer 100 per cent guarantee schemes to ensure your satisfaction, with long lifespans than require minimal re-purchasing after the initial financial outlay. Five eco pairs of pants costs the same or even less than a year’s worth of tampons… it’s never been easier to go with the flow.


Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter