3 Ways to ‘Green’ Your Period

Think tampons or pads are your only options when that time of the month comes around? While they’re overwhelmingly the most popular choice, there are women reaching for Earth-friendly alternatives.

The average woman will use about 11,400 tampons and throw away up to 300 pounds of feminine hygiene products in her lifetime.  That adds up to almost 20 billion disposable menstrual products in North American landfills each year. And while not everyone thinks those numbers are worth panicking over—they only make up .5 percent of our personal landfill trash, about the same as our use of plastic plates and cups—for those making the switch, here are three environmentally friendly options to choose from:


Menstrual Cups

Made out of latex or silicone, menstrual cups—you may have heard of the DivaCup, Keeper, or Moon Cup—collect menstrual fluid instead of absorbing it. Cups are inserted like tampons, and emptied, washed with soapy water, and re-inserted as needed. They can usually be worn for almost twice as long as a traditional tampons, with no risk of irritation that can sometimes come with bleached or synthetic fibers. And though they cost $30-$40 each, they’ll last you up to 10 years.


Washable Cloth Pads

It’s not just concern for the environment that has some women switching to reusable cloth pads. Because pads and tampons are considered medical devices, manufacturers aren’t required to disclose the materials and ingredients they’re made up of—though some estimate that a conventional sanitary pad may contain the equivalent of four plastic bags. Try brands like Luna Pads or even make your own! Washable, reusable cloth pads are worn like regular pads…with the caveat that you have to wash each one after each use, which may be more effort than it’s worth to some.


Sea Sponge Tampons

Yes, they’re really the sea sponges that grow on the ocean floor—after they’re harvested, have the outer shell removed, and are cleaned, cut, and shaped. It works just like a traditional tampon, without the waste. Sea sponges are also free of chemicals used to bleach traditional tampons and pads—and although the process used during bleaching was changed in the late 1990’s to eliminate dioxin residue (a known carcinogen), a 2005 study sponsored by the FDA Office of Women’s Health still found “detectable levels of dioxin in seven brands of tampons.”


Want to cut your period’s impact on the environment but not ready to make the switch to the above options? Try pads that aren’t individually wrapped (the extra packaging is unnecessary, because pads aren’t sterile) or tampons without applicators to cut down on waste.


W. C
W. C11 months ago

Thank you.

Lesa D
Past Member 11 months ago

some GREAT green alternatives now available... thankfully i'm pretty much done with all that jazz...

thank you Diana...

sharon b
sharon b11 months ago


Richard A
Richard A2 years ago


Twila H
Twila H2 years ago


Magdalena C.
Past Member 3 years ago

Thank you!

Monika Ka
Monika K3 years ago


sandra vito
Sandra V4 years ago


Elizabeth Brawn
Elizabeth Brawn4 years ago

i ma going to use the ''luna''

Livnam Kaur
Colleen Stockard4 years ago

I've used cloth pads for about a year now, they are much more comfortable than brands like Libresse and Always. It's so nice that I always have pads available.