Periods and eco-friendly menstrual products

eco friendly menstrual products

It might be a bit of a strange subject for me to talk about periods and eco friendly menstrual products at the moment, given the fact that I haven’t menstruated for over 7 months now. However, I’ve recently been talking with friends about menstrual cups (there’s the MoonCup, the OrganiCup and the DivaCup, for example), and heard very enthusiastic feedback. Once you get the hang of using and inserting them (which apparently can take a bit of fiddling around) the cups are a total game changer! I have also seen regular pop-ups on my social media for Thinx period underwear, which I thought looked really cool and interesting. Then, there are some fabulous environmentally and socially conscious brands now, like MyFreda in the UK and My Lola in the US, offering handy subscription services. They simply send a fun box to your doorstep, filled with your monthly need of disposable yet eco-friendly, certified organic menstrual products.

There’s an insane amount of waste ending up in landfill. If you think about the fact that every woman will have her period for around 40 years, you won’t be surprised to hear that an average woman in her reproductive lifetime uses well over 11.000 menstrual products. Over 30,000 kg per woman! All those tampons, sanitary pads and pantyliners generate more than 200,000 tonnes of waste per year, much of it ending up in landfill. Or worse, in the ocean, sea and rivers!

All of the conventional (non-organic) menstrual products contain synthetic fibre and plastic. In fact, I’ve read that conventional sanitary pads can contain up to 90% plastic, or the equivalent of about four plastic bags! Non-organic tampons, especially super absorbent ones, contain synthetic fibre like viscose rayon (which is added to increase absorbency).

All of that plastic and synthetic waste sitting in landfills can take hundreds and hundreds of years to bio-degrade. For example, a regular tampon can take around 500 years to decompose; as apposed to an organic cotton tampon taking around 5 years. And then I’m not even talking about the plastic applicators! (I personally do not use applicators… I find applicator-free tampons easy to use and they take up much less space in my handbag. Plus, they create 58% less waste!)

Knowing this, it is so important to use re-usable menstrual products, or disposable products made of organic cotton. But there’s more.

  • The tissue of the vulva and vagina is highly permeable and super vulnerable to chemicals. The vagina’s mucous membranes and all of its blood and lymphatic vessels provide a direct entryway for nasty chemicals to circulate through the woman’s body.
  • Conventional sanitary products are partly made from non-organic cotton. Being the most heavily pesticide sprayed crop, that cotton is likely to be genetically modified and sprayed with nasty chemical pesticides and herbicides. This destroys biodiversity and can cause pesticide poisoning in cotton workers. Plus, could still be present in the tampons we use!
  • Conventional disposable menstrual products are bleached white using chlorine, producing the chemical dioxin (linked to immune system suppression, hormone disruption and cancer).
  • Tampons can leave microfibres (the before mentioned viscose rayon) behind in the vagina, causing tiny cuts in the vaginal tissue and creating a breeding ground for bacteria (which can cause Toxic Shock Syndrome).

So! Lesson learned. Once I get my period back again, I am going to be solely using eco friendly menstrual products. I am going to try a menstrual cup and am going to be extremely religious about using just organic tampons and pads. (I can’t believe I’m only realising now how bad the conventional products are!)

What are your thoughts and experiences? Have you tried a menstrual cup or period underwear? Please share!

xxx Esther

(Photo by Thinx)

PS A First Period Box, to prepare teenage girls for their first menstruation.


Comments (12)

Emilie in Paris
February 1, 2018

Love this topic – I am a recent convert to the moon cup and it is awesome. It is easy to use and I actually feel less worried about leeks than I do with tampons. The main think that drove me to use it though was the environment !

February 1, 2018

I actually meant to comment on this when you wrote your wonderful post about preparations for menstruation for girls (and their parents!). We have to learn our kids that this is the future and the way to go, and even if it can feel a bit less sanitary at first it actually is the opposite! It’s really big in Sweden now and I converted 5 years ago and have never looked back.

Esther in Amsterdam
February 2, 2018

Totally agree! x

Pernille (
February 1, 2018

I am using the Organicup – and with great satisfaction. For me it works 100%. I started using it because I wanted to expose my body to as little artificial products as possible (where it makes sense), as well as it is more sustainable for mother earth and better for my wallet.

Georgina Owen
February 1, 2018

I’m so pleased you are spreading the word about this. I had never heard of a Mooncup until a few months back. I now use it regularly and wish I’d discovered it years ago! These things definite need to be given more publicity. Thanks for sharing x

February 1, 2018

MyFreda looks great, so pretty packages:) The topic is also very important, altough menstrual cups can do harm, well not for the environment.

After my second child, I went to a course, to regain the strengh and elasticity of my pelvic floor, and other parts below,. It was very useful, also kind of empowering. The teacher said there, that tampons, menstrual cups, or anything what is hold there in the vagina for longer periods, makes the muscles weeker. They are just not designed to do that. So organic sanitary pads for me!

February 1, 2018

Very interesting post! Have a look around ebay, if you think they are too expensive. There are unbranded ones for less than £2.

February 1, 2018

Hi, I’ve been on the moon cup for a year and loving it . I like the other ladies who left comments only wish i had found it sooner. I love that i never get caught out as I just have to empty and don’t have to worry about sanitary waste on environment and /orleaving waste in another persons house or somewhere where there is not special bin etc.

So easy and environmental. I would be saying we should all be using but I am a bit concerned about last comment and pelvic floor. I have never heard anything about that – would be interested in any other research there. I love my moon cup but also want to maintain my pelvic floor !

February 1, 2018

Before I ever had my own kids a girlfriend showed me the cloth diapers she was using with her first baby and told me about all the reasons, specifically environmental impact and chemical exposure, and I was so blown away I knew I would use them too. So when I became pregnant I started my own research and totally fell down a rabbit hole of disposable products and their negative impacts on us and our planet. Same as you I knew when my period returned after birth I would use as many organic, chemical-free, and reusable products as possible. I both a Luna cup, a few organic washable pantiliners, and never looked back! The cup is so fantastic, and once you get the hang of it (and it did take me a few cycles to do so) it is light years better than tampon. I am also interested in the period underwear but haven’t tried them. They are such a fantastic idea!

Esther in Amsterdam
February 2, 2018

It indeed is a rabbit hole. Nappy and fem-care companies are not obliged to communicate any ingredients on their packaging. It’s terrible! xx

February 2, 2018

Thanks for sharing! During pregnancies I couldn’t stand normaal pantyliners, so I used cotton/bamboo washable ones. I was using cloth diapers and often those sites sell women’s products too. After my last pregnacy I had some pelvis floor issues, so I bought special underwear from I don’t need it anymore for that purpose (got a tvt), but I still use it for my period.
Another question, what about cloth diapers? I can’t remember I’ve read an article about that on Babyccino.

Esther in Amsterdam
February 2, 2018

Good thought. I’m working on it! 🙂 x PS I got a tvt too!

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