You are not quite sure whether a zero waste men­stru­ation is the right fit for you or not? Here are seven good reas­ons to make your men­stru­ation more sus­tain­able. And we are here for you if you have any fur­ther ques­tions or need tips! But to be hon­est, every begin­ning is hard and other products nat­ur­ally bring a chal­lenge or two with them. That’s why you’ll also find three down­sides of reusable altern­at­ives below. But let’s start with the advant­ages of an eco-friendly friendly period first!

1. Waste reduc­tion: For the sake of the environment

More and more men­stru­at­ing people are look­ing for altern­at­ives to tra­di­tional dis­pos­able items. Reason num­ber 1 is the pro­tec­tion of our envir­on­ment, i.e. avoid­ing (plastic) waste. Espe­cially min­im­al­ists and people who fol­low a sus­tain­able life­style are enthu­si­astic about reusable options dur­ing their period. And the reas­ons are obvi­ous. All they prob­ably need is a men­strual cup, a few fab­ric panty liners or a pair of period under­wear. I would say that this is as close as we can get to a zero waste men­stru­ation (unless we prac­tice free bleed­ing, of course).

2. Good for your gen­ital area

Espe­cially people whose skin is more sens­it­ive in the gen­ital area appre­ci­ate the cosi­ness and com­fort of nat­ural mater­i­als of period panties or wash­able pads. Finally, there is no more unpleas­ant plastic and no more sticky strips between your legs all day long. The vagina can breathe prop­erly again! Also your vaginal flora will thank you for it. Because unlike tam­pons, men­strual cups do not dry out the mucous mem­branes or bring your pH-value out of bal­ance. They merely catch the men­strual blood. And did you know that many tam­pons are bleached? Man­u­fac­tur­ers of tam­pons do not have to state the ingredi­ents of the products on the pack­aging. Crazy, right?

3. You are get­ting to know your body better

If you are using reusable men­strual products, you will get to know your­self bet­ter. Because often these altern­at­ives require a more intens­ive engage­ment with your­self, your body and your period. This will give you a bet­ter feel­ing for what hap­pens inside your body dur­ing men­stru­ation. It also means that we can ‘con­trol’ our peri­ods in a bet­ter way, because we have a more com­plete under­stand­ing of them. With a men­strual cup, for example, you can eas­ily get an over­view of how much men­strual blood you are really los­ing or what col­our your men­strual blood is (spoiler: not blue, as we are unfor­tu­nately so often shown in advert­ise­ments). These inter­ac­tions can also help to develop a deeper appre­ci­ation and grat­it­ude for your own body. Last but not least, con­sciously exper­i­en­cing and con­trolling your body is the first step towards free bleed­ing.

4. No more stress with empty tam­pon packages

Reusable altern­at­ives can reduce stress around your period. Because once you have inves­ted in a sus­tain­able product, you can use it (again) at any time and you don’t have to face the dilemma that the tam­pon box is empty exactly when you urgently need one. Espe­cially if you tend to have irreg­u­lar peri­ods, there will be no more unpleas­ant sur­prises. You can eas­ily wear men­strual under­wear even when you don’t have your period. And men­strual cups are also quickly and eas­ily car­ried in any bag.

5. A happy men­stru­ation with bright col­ors & patterns

Tra­di­tional dis­pos­able men­strual products are often rather sterile, func­tional and bor­ing. In the sus­tain­able men­strual world, how­ever, there are almost no lim­its to your ima­gin­a­tion! Men­strual cups or cloth pads are often col­our­ful or full of pat­terns. Men­strual under­wear is now also avail­able in many dif­fer­ent shapes, col­ours and above all designs! The styles range from thongs to hip­ster or sexy panties to box­ers? Here all gender iden­tit­ies will find the right under­wear for them­selves. And if you and your men­stru­ation just don’t have the best rela­tion­ship, maybe it’s good to at least be able to wear nice period panties?

6. Excer­cising and fly­ing? Any­thing is possible!

Whether you are more of a home­body or travel a lot, an eco-friendly period is also pos­sible on the go! Men­strual cups can be espe­cially use­ful for excer­cising, swim­ming, long walks or trav­el­ing. Due to their rather large capa­city, they usu­ally do not have to be changed as often as dis­pos­able products. They give you more flex­ib­il­ity and inde­pend­ence, as it is no longer neces­sary to take a spare one with you. Simply empty them, wash them and use them again. This is also very con­veni­ent for longer hikes out in the nature.

7. Rejec­tion of large com­pan­ies & sup­port of start-ups

You no longer feel like enrich­ing the big com­pan­ies every month by buy­ing dis­pos­able products? Then there is good news! Often the altern­at­ives are rather brought to the mar­ket by star­tups or social busi­nesses. The monthly sale of dis­pos­able art­icles is much more prof­it­able than selling a cup every 10 years. The young star­tups, how­ever, put a lot of heart and soul into the devel­op­ment of the products and are really happy about every single sale.

Are you curi­ous to try free bleed­ing and exper­i­ence your period in a new way? Then our online course "Men­stru­ation without products: Learn Free Bleed­ing" is per­fect for you

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Three chal­lenges dur­ing an eco-friendly period

Even if the reas­ons for using reusable altern­at­ives, in my opin­ion, clearly out­weigh other products, there are of course, as always, some more unpleas­ant aspects of it as well. And we don’t want to with­hold these from you! At first sight, dis­pos­able products are often easier to use, because sus­tain­able options can some­times be a bit more com­plic­ated to man­age. But it’s not all that bad if you have learned the way of doing it after a while. But here are three small chal­lenges of an eco-friendly period.

1. Clean­ing

In order to be able to use the eco-friendly period products again and again, they have to be washed prop­erly. As you prob­ably know, it is not too easy to remove the men­strual blood from fab­rics. But with the right know­ledge, it is, in the end, quite man­age­able.
Men­strual under­wear and cloth pads, for example, have to be rinsed briefly with cold water (prefer­ably by hand) after wear­ing them. Then they can be put in the wash­ing machine  and be washed together with your other clothes. Men­strual cups also need a little more clean­ing. So before and after your period you should boil the cup once in water for a few minutes. When the cup is filled while, it should be care­fully emp­tied in the toi­let and washed with water.

2. Chan­ging reusable products on the go

Depend­ing on the product and its absorbency, the blood-soaked sub­stitues may still have to be car­ried home. In this case, pre­par­a­tion is everything: simply bring appro­pri­ate leak-proof bags with you. Then it is no prob­lem. And men­strual cups, for example, can just be cleaned and washed with water without a prob­lem while on the road. And if you are using pub­lic toi­lets? All the bet­ter! Face your fears and act­ively break the taboo around men­stru­ation by simply wash­ing the cup in the sink. Because men­stru­ation and the blood that goes with it are some­thing com­pletely nor­mal! So don’t be afraid to show your men­strual blood in pub­lic. Defy the mar­ket­ing mes­sages of large com­pan­ies and be any­thing but discreet.

3. Prices can still be some­what expensive

Unfor­tu­nately, the dis­ad­vant­age of period under­wear is that the mar­ket for it is still quite small and they are there­fore rel­at­ively expens­ive. It is advis­able to own sev­eral period panties. This is because the under­wear has to be washed and dried after wear­ing it before it can be used again. Unfor­tu­nately, buy­ing sev­eral period pants can be a bit expens­ive and not every­one can afford it. This is a chal­lenge, because it is a ‘pay to join’ approach. It is not fair when people are excluded from social move­ments, such as the men­strual revolu­tion, because of high prices. Other products, such as the cup, are for­tu­nately much cheaper and there it is really just a single invest­ment that will be with you and your period for the next ten years.

In the end: You decide!

Advant­ages and dis­ad­vant­ages of an eco-friendly period back and forth. At the end of the day YOU decide how to man­age your men­stru­ation and what feels right for your body! We are only here to give you some impulses and show you altern­at­ive possibilities.

 Happy bleeding!

Britta Wiebe, period education, Vulvani
Britta 
Co-Founder Vul­vani | britta@vulvani.com | Web­site | + posts

Britta Wiebe is the co-founder of Vul­vani. She loves research­ing, writ­ing and design­ing new art­icles or innov­at­ive edu­ca­tional con­cepts about men­stru­ation all day long. When she is not trav­el­ling the world, she enjoys spend­ing time with her loved ones in the beau­ti­ful city of Ham­burg in Germany.