As you might be able to gather from the title, I’m not talking about books today! I’m talking periods—specifically my period—so if you’re not interested consider this your warning to click away and seek out all the bookish content here on my blog instead.
In October last year – on my birthday, no less; happy birthday to me – I began my very first plastic-free period. My period has been plastic and waste-free since then, and I’ve loved it. Well, I’ve loved it as much as anyone can ever love their period. So today I thought I’d chat about that journey with you, because I whole-heartedly believe that going plastic-free with our periods, if we’re able to, is one of the best things we can do for the environment.
First thing’s first, though, if your period isn’t plastic-free this isn’t a blog post to demonise you for it. Our periods are very personal, and ultimately you have to use what you feel most comfortable using, and you have to use what you have access to. Just want to throw that out there before we go any further.
Going plastic-free is something I’d been thinking about for quite a while before I finally made the decision. I’d seen people talking about Mooncups for ages and, while I liked the idea of them well enough, I knew that they weren’t for me. I don’t use tampons, so I’m not about to jump in with a Mooncup.
Instead I decided to go for what I felt most comfortable using and I bought myself some reusable sanitary towels. I went to Amazon (I know, I try not to use Amazon where I can but they were a great place for finding reviews) and bought myself these sanitary towels from Eco Lily. As you can see it’s £21.99 for a box of 6 which at first glance can seem like a lot of money – and for many people, including myself, that is a lot of money – but I believe reusable sanitary towels will last for around 3-5 years. So I’ve spent £21.99 for 3-5 years’ worth of sanitary towels, as opposed to buying a pack for £4-£5 every month.
These were something I thought long and hard about because, as most people do, when I initially heard the phrase ‘reusable sanitary towel’ my first thought was something along the lines of ‘eww’ – but why? This is something my body naturally does, something it needs to do, so why am I treating it with disgust?
Don’t get me wrong, the actual process of having periods is not fun and it especially hasn’t been pleasant in my experience. I had an awful time with my periods throughout my teens, and even ended up on the pill for quite a few years just to help me with the pain. My body is the cool machine I get to wield through life, though, so I think it deserves a bit more respect from me when it does what it’s got to do.
I can tell you whole-heartedly that I adore my reusable sanitary towels and I would never go back to what I was using before. My periods are so much more comfortable now; my sanitary towels make it feel like my underwear is a bit stodgier, that’s all, whereas plastic sanitary towels often left me feeling like I was wearing a nappy.
They also wash really easily! I put them in the washing machine for either an hour at 20 degrees, or half an hour at 30 degrees, then they dry either on the radiator or on the washing line. It’s best not to use fabric softener on them as it can ruin the absorption, but they always come out nice and clean and ready to be used again.
I’ve also had barely any trouble at all with leaking, which is something I was initially concerned about because reusable sanitary towels fasten onto your underwear with poppers, so the underside of them isn’t sticky. This is why it’s best to wear your tighter fitting underwear when you use reusable sanitary towels just to make sure they won’t slide further up or down than you’d like them to. Personally, though, I haven’t had many problems with this at all.
I have always had heavy periods and plenty of times throughout my life I’ve woken up to discover my sanitary towel hasn’t protected me as it should have. In fact some days I wore two sanitary towels, which really did leave me feeling like I was wearing a nappy! Since moving to reusable sanitary towels, though, I’ve only had two occasions where I’ve woken up and found I’ve leaked, and both times were miniscule compared to the literal bloodbaths I had to deal with as a teen.
So not only do these sanitary towels work better for me, save me money and give me much more comfort during what is a rather uncomfortable time of the month, they’re also better for the environment. In an article last year, Be Kind magazine revealed that around 200,000 tonnes of waste from sanitary towels and tampons end up in landfill, and that in the UK, on average, people who have periods will use over 11,000 disposable menstrual products in our lifetime.
I’m only one person, but if even I can prevent myself from putting 11,000 disposable products into landfill during my life then it’s at least one small step in the right direction. But imagine if we all did that?
Again, this post isn’t meant to demonise anyone who can’t or doesn’t want to use reusable or biodegradable products, for some people it’s simply not an option and you ultimately have to do what you feel most comfortable doing, but if, like me, reusable products once made you pull a face then I urge you to give them a try.