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Eco-Friendly Period Products

These feminine care products go with the flow while supporting a healthy planet

Written by: 100% PURE ®
Main Menstruation

You’ve probably thought about your carbon footprint as it relates to your car, your groceries, or your home – but what about your period?

According to Stanford Magazine, almost 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons are thrown away each year. Plastic applicators end up in landfills, while other byproducts pollute our oceans and other aquatic ecosystems. Creating plastic for period products releases a ton of carbon dioxide, trapping heat within our atmosphere and fanning the flame of global warming.

If you’re concerned about the wellbeing of our planet, start by considering earth-friendly alternatives to traditional pads and tampons! Read on to uncover which sustainable period products are right for you.

5 Things to Consider When Shopping for Period Products

Every woman is different, and will have varying needs when it comes to feminine care. Anatomy, flow, and biology are all deciding factors when choosing their products. Below, we’ve listed a set of criteria you should take into account when choosing the best period products for you!


Many women report that the worst period products for heavy cramps tend to be tampons. In an interview with O.school, a pelvic floor therapist explains that tampons themselves aren’t causing the pain – but they can irritate the issue. If you already have issues with pelvic floor pain, your tampon might be irritating your pelvic muscles, thus aggravating period cramps.

Those who’ve switched over to pads, menstrual cups, and period panties may find that their cramps are more manageable. Pads don’t touch pelvic floor muscles at all. And since menstrual cups are made of silicone they tend to move with you, instead of being lodged firmly in place.

Understanding your flow is essential to choosing the right period products. If you have a heavier flow: you’ll need to use pads and tampons made for heavy flows, or menstrual cups that hold more fluid. Otherwise, you risk leaking – or changing your pad, tampon, or cup very frequently.

Leaking is often a common concern among those with heavy flows. Reusable waterproof or cotton pads can help quell your worries. Menstrual cups are another great option, but you can wear a reusable period panty for extra safety against leaks.

For lighter flows: a pad, tampon, or period panty used alone may suffice. You might be able to change your tampon less often, but be sure not to leave your tampon in for more than 8 hours.

PRO TIP: Your menstruation might be too heavy if your period lasts longer than a week, you experience anemia, or you go through more than 6 pads and tampons a day. Talk to your doctor or gynecologist if you have any concerns.

Girl with calendar

Overnight Use
Pads and period panties are the best option for overnight use. While rare, tampons and menstrual cups can both cause toxic shock syndrome if left in for too long. Toxic shock syndrome is a serious, life-threatening side effect of a bacterial infection mostly commonly caused by Staphylococcus aureus.

Since tampons and cups period products absorb fluid for an extended period of time, they can create an environment for bacterial infection to flourish. The risk occurs most commonly after leaving a tampon or cup in after 8 hours. If you do decide to use a tampon or cup for overnight use, be sure to keep this in mind.

If you’ve given birth, you may experience bleeding and clotting during the following 6 weeks. Throughout the process, pads and period panties will be your best option as your body recovers. You shouldn’t be inserting anything for at least these 6 weeks – some women need a bit longer before being able to use tampons or cups again. Consult with your primary care doctor or postpartum doula to understand the best timeline for you and your body.

The heaviest bleeding usually occurs in the 24 hours after birth. As the bleeding becomes lighter, you might find that you can switch to lighter pads or period panties. Be sure to talk to your doctor about what normal bleeding and clotting look like at each stage.

Activity Level
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to sacrifice your exercise routine because of a heavy flow! But if you’re active on a regular basis or your job is labor-intensive, you might find that pads feel uncomfortable and bulky (especially when sweating).

If your activity of choice is swimming, pads and period panties aren’t really an option. Instead, many women prefer tampons and menstrual cups while staying active.

Harmful Ingredients in Common Feminine Care Products

Not only are conventional period products more harmful for the environment, they can be full of toxins that can interfere with our body’s natural functions. Fragrances, dyes, s, furans, pesticide residues, and other carcinogens have been found in pads and tampons.

Consider this:

  • Dyes, fragrances, odor neutralizers found in pads and tampons have a potential to irritate delicate skin.

  • Chlorine bleach is used to whiten pads and tampons, possibly leading to the creation of dioxin and trihalomethane.

  • Per the CDC, people exposed to large amounts of dioxins and furans develop chloracne, liver issues, and higher levels of fat in their blood.

  • Conventional pesticide residues can stay behind in cotton period products.

According to research outlined by Huffpost, “conventional sanitary pads can contain the equivalent of about four plastic bags!” Considering the damage that petroleum byproducts like BPA and BPS do to our environment (and to our bodies), we prefer to opt out!

Unfortunately, companies who create and distribute these period products aren’t legally required to list the ingredients that go into them. This is where the far safer eco-friendly alternatives come into play!

Reusable cotton cloth woman pad
Alternatives to Conventional Feminine Care Products

Want to make the switch? We’ve got you covered with a list of alternative period products!

Cora tampons and pads are made of organic cotton to ensure that conventional pesticide residues aren’t transferred to your most delicate areas. Their pads don’t contain any plastics – just cotton – so you stay fresh and comfortable all day (conventional plastic products can make you feel hot and muggy).

Their tampons come with and without applicators. You can even create your own custom collection, by choosing a specific number of pads and tampons to be delivered to you each month!

Honest Co.
Similar to Cora, Honest sells organic cotton tampons and pads without petroleum byproducts. They provide tampons with plant-derived plastic applicators and tampons without applicators altogether, which avoids the issue of plastic pollution. Both are made super absorbent for heavy flows. Their pads, on the other hand, are made for those with regular flows.

Menstrual cups are great waste-free period products. Unlike conventional pads and tampons, you buy one menstrual cup and use it repeatedly until you have to replace it. Intimina’s Lily Cup is angled to fit your anatomy, which can make it more comfortable to use than conventional tampons.

You can also choose between two options for optimum comfort. The “A” size is smaller, made for women who haven’t given birth vaginally or who have medium flows. The “B” size is made for women who have given birth, have weaker pelvic muscles, or a heavier flow.

Thinx period panties are made of nylon. While somewhat energy-intensive and not quite biodegradable, period panties made from nylon are still a more sustainable option than single-use pads and tampons. This is due to the fact that you can wash and reuse them countless times, as you do with regular underwear. Thinx panties come in a variety of styles, so you can choose one that suits your body and feels most comfortable.

Whichever sustainable period product you choose, be sure to choose one that fits your anatomy and your flow. If you’re just starting out, don’t be afraid to try out multiple products to find one that’s right for you! Women aren’t one-size-fits-all – and your period products shouldn’t be either.

We carefully hand-select products based on strict purity standards, and only recommend products we feel meet this criteria. 100% PURE™ may earn a small commission for products purchased through affiliate links.

The information in this article is for educational use, and not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should not be used as such.

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