For anyone who wants to live an eco-friendly lifestyle, the problems with throwing away countless single-use tampons and pads every month, plus all the plastic and packaging that comes with them, are obvious. Thankfully, there are several eco-friendly period products to choose from! Which one is right for you?
For this post, I’ve tried four different types of eco-friendly period products. I’m going to share my honest review of each. That way, you can weigh the pros and cons and decide what you want to try!
Just a heads up: This post contains Amazon affiliate links. That means if you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no cost to you. As always, all opinions are entirely my own. Thanks for supporting me!
1. Reusable pads
For anyone who is a little skeptical or intimidated by period underwear or menstrual cups, reusable pads rank highly among eco-friendly period products! In preparation for this post, I reached out to Aisle to see if they would be willing to send me some reusable pads to try, in exchange for an honest review. They agreed, and I’m so glad they did, because I’m in love with their products! Reader Favorites From Uncommonly WellPlay Video
Pros of Reusable Pads
- They’re super comfy. I jokingly said to my sister, it’s honestly like wearing a pillow down there! They’re way more comfortable than regular pads, which can crinkle and bunch up and you can get the sticky part on your skin – so annoying! None of that with these.
- They can hold up to 4 tampons worth. I wore one all day with no leaks on the second-heaviest day of my period.
- You can buy them in different sizes for different days of your flow. Aisle has super, maxi, and mini pads, as well as regular liners and extended liners.
- They can be used as backup to other period products. If you use a tampon and pad combo, or if you use a menstrual cup that leaks sometimes, you can use these instead of throwaway pads.
- They stay put better than regular pads. In my experience with Aisle reusable pads, I didn’t have any of the weird bunching or detaching that I have with regular pads. The only thing that happened a little bit was it would twist around sometimes, since they close with a snap rather than actually adhering to the underside of the underwear.
- The only packaging you’re throwing away is what it’s shipped in. I was really happy to see that Aisle’s shipping packaging is all compostable, too!
Cons of Reusable Pads
- Not good for underwear lines. You might not want to wear a super reusable pad with your tightest skinny jeans or leggings out on the town. They add bulk, and they might show. For me personally, I like to stay in and wear baggy clothes on my period anyway, so it’s not a big deal.
- You have to wash them yourself. For me, this isn’t much of a con, but for some people it might be. You do have to take the extra step of adding these to your laundry rather than throwing them in the trash. With Aisle brand, you can hand rinse in cold water, then machine wash on hot, and machine dry on low. So you can wash them with the rest of your clothes! Just don’t add fabric softener or bleach.
2. Period underwear
I remember when I first heard about period underwear. To be honest, I thought it sounded super gross, and I thought there’s no way it would actually work or be a trend to stick around. I was wrong!
Fast forward to today, and there are multiple period underwear brands to choose from, and lots and lots of raving fans. I count myself a new member of the fan club. Period underwear have become my favorite option among eco-friendly period products.https://b1fa9b5c09e44808addc2d3ff0b2c351.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
When I was preparing to write this post, I emailed Thinx as well as Aisle asking if they would be willing to send me any period underwear in exchange for an honest review. Both of them agreed.
I was curious to try period underwear, largely because I was feeling like taking a break from menstrual cups (reviewed below). I’m 10 years older than I was when I first started using menstrual cups, and the one I had wasn’t fitting as well anymore. I thought it was the perfect time to switch things up.
Pros of Period Underwear
- You can get them made with organic cotton. Both Thinx and Aisle offer organic cotton style options.
- They’re actually cute. I was expecting somewhat of a granny panty feel, but I didn’t have that at all. The Thinx briefs pictured above, and the Aisle brief and bikini styles are the ones I tried. I like them enough that I would even wear them when not on my period, if I wasn’t trying to make them last as long as possible! I feel like that’s saying something.
- They’re extremely comfortable. All three styles I tried were genuinely comfy, even on my most bloated, crampy days.
- In my experience, they haven’t leaked at all. I wore one pair per day, no switching in the middle or anything like that, and I never had any leaks.
- You’ve got a lot of options. Thinx and Aisle both have multiple styles to choose from, and other brands do, too. You can find something you like.
- One pair can absorb up to two tampons’ worth. Aisle includes a booster you can tuck into the underwear if you need even more absorbency.
- The only packaging waste is what it’s shipped in. Aisle’s shipping packaging is even compostable!
Cons of Period Underwear
- They’re more expensive than a cup or reusable pads. Thinx and Aisle cost $30-50 per pair, which is certainly an investment when it comes to underwear. They can last up to two years.
- You may have a hard time finding an option without underwear lines. If you care about that, it’s something to consider.
- You have to wash them. But they’re easy to wash – machine wash cold, and Thinx hang dry while Aisle can be machine dried. Just don’t use fabric softener or bleach.
3. Menstrual cups
I started using a menstrual cup back in 2010 and was a raving fan for years! I converted multiple friends on to them with my enthusiasm. The #1 best thing about a menstrual cup, in my opinion, is that you can sum up all your period care in one product.
If it fits right, you may not even need to wear a pad or any backup. And you can use the same one for years! Just think about the cost savings and convenience. This is the most cost-friendly of all eco-friendly period products.https://b1fa9b5c09e44808addc2d3ff0b2c351.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
I’ve used a couple of different kinds, but I like the Pixie Cup shown above especially, because they give a cup away to someone in need for every cup that’s purchased. Also, I just love their branding.
I really like this quiz, which can help you find the best menstrual cup for you based on your age, flow, cervix, and other factors.
Pros of Menstrual Cups
- With the right fit, you may not feel it at all. That was the case for me in the majority of my cup using years. I would put it in and almost forget about it! It’s made of flexible silicone that bends with your body.
- You can buy one and use it for years! If you take care of it and the fit remains good for your body, you can use the same menstrual cup for up to 10 years. I personally used menstrual cups for 10 years and only replaced mine once.
- It’s the cheapest option of all the eco-friendly period products on this list. They usually cost $20-35 depending on the brand, but considering you can use just one for several years, you will save a lot of money in the long run!
- It’s amazingly small and compact for travel. Only having to bring one product with you in your suitcase for travel is a huge plus for anyone who knows the struggle of packing lightly!
- No packaging waste, except what it comes in.
Cons of Menstrual Cups
- There is a learning curve. When you first go to put in a menstrual cup, you have to learn how to do it, just like you learned how to put in your first tampon. Putting in a menstrual cup can be a little more tricky. You need to fold it before inserting, and you need to make sure it opens fully to suction and not have leaks. For me, it only took me one try. For some people, it may take a bit more practice. I’d recommend looking up a tutorial on YouTube.
- You need to wear the right size. There are different sizes of menstrual cups. The differences are primarily based on whether you have given birth or not, but if you have an especially low or high cervix or other factors, you will want to do your research in getting the right size.
- You need to empty it. This can be challenging in public bathrooms. You will need to empty your menstrual cup periodically, at least every 12 hours. For me, on my heaviest day, I’d say I empty every 4 hours or so, just to make sure I don’t have any leaks. It’s emptied in the toilet, but you will usually want to wash it in the sink before putting it back in. You can buy wipes to use in public if preferred.
- You need to boil it in water after each period, or buy a steamer. It’s super easy, but you may find it odd to boil your period cup in a pot on your stove, and if you have roommates, they may not be thrilled. You can also buy steamers to clean your cups instead. But don’t skip this step, because you don’t want a buildup of bacteria.
- It can be uncomfortable or painful, or you may experience leaking if the fit isn’t right.
4. Organic tampons and pads
The first three eco-friendly period products on this post are going to be your most sustainable options. I hope you will at least give one of them a try!
If you really can’t bring yourself to use any of the other options in this post, at the very least you can buy tampons and pads that are more eco-friendly than the more mainstream varieties.
First, let’s talk about the issues with normal tampons and pads. The first is obvious – they create a ton of waste. You can’t use them more than one time, and you have the box they come in, individual wrappings, and the plastic applicators or seals. Usually most of this waste is not recyclable, and they end up in landfills.
The second issue is also important, but less obvious. The materials used in many tampons and pads are treated with chemicals and can contain toxins that are harmful to the body. This is one of the last places you want toxins near your body!https://b1fa9b5c09e44808addc2d3ff0b2c351.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html
You can buy organic and tampons and pads that are more eco-friendly and environmentally conscious. Consider getting tampons without an applicator. That additional piece of plastic is really not necessary and is just one more piece of landfill waste you can avoid!
I have used Seventh Generation organic cotton tampons without applicators. I like these because they’re not ridiculously expensive compared to normal tampons, and they’re available in a lot of stores and on Amazon.