How To Ensure You Are Comfortable While Using Sustainable Period Options

Sustainable period options are the way forward, but you need comfortable ones too, during days when your body needs pampering.

When we speak of sustainable period options, we must also ask the question – Why must the burden of sustainability fall on people who menstruate? It is a question many sustainability warriors are asking today.

Are you someone who feels guilty every time you use a pad, knowing the environmental impact it has? Yet, you have no other option. Whether it be personal comfort or a medical condition- the reality is that not every person who menstruates can use or has access to sustainable period options.

The reasons stopping them could be on account of comfort or medical reasons, or economic or cultural reasons. Yet, everyone deserves to be comfortable on their period. It is a taxing time on their body and no one gains from making it worse.

Then how do we reconcile our environmentalist ethics with the reality of menstruation or periods? The answer lies in imperfect and realistic sustainability.

“When I used pads, there was so much guilt,” says Yashvi Jain, an environmentalist. While Yashvi could make the shift to menstrual cups, a sustainable period option, not everyone can do the same.

Sustainable Period Options and How to Use Them

Before we look at what to do when we cannot be sustainable in our periods, , let us look at sustainable period options that are available.

Menstrual Cups

Usually made of silicon, these are some of the best options available for people to use on their periods. They are often eco-friendly, and the rating of an individual company can be checked using a website like Zoobop. Another benefit to using a cup is that it is reusable for several times. Nor is it as time-consuming to maintain as cloth pads, all you need is a source of water and a working toilet to clean the cup and re-use it. After every period, however, it is necessary to clean the cup in boiling water. It saves money and reduces waste- what is there not to like?

However, many people cannot use a cup due to medical reasons such as hymen issues or OCD. There are also cultural reasons which come in the way of using a cup. These include the concept of virginity or the cultural idea that using a cup can cause difficulties during pregnancy. In some countries, even doctors tend to be scared of products like menstrual cups or discs which need to be interested in the vaginal opening. There is also a slight risk of TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome). Doctors say that menstrual cups are safe to use.

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Menstrual Discs

Menstrual discs are discs that are interested in the vagina. Rather than absorb your period, they collect it for up to 12 hours. While safe, they do have a small risk of TSS, similar to tampons and menstrual cups.

Periods Panties

Period underwear is absorbent and washable underwear that you can wear during your periods. They can collect up to five tablespoons of blood, according to some.

Cloth Pads

Reusable cloth pads can be used like normal pads. Instead of throwing them away, you can wash them and reuse them. Many prefer to wash them separately from the clothing that goes into the machine and like to use hot water. Thus, cleaning cloth pads can become time-consuming. There is another difficulty too- which is that they can’t be changed while traveling for many. In some cultures, it is considered bad to let people know you are on your period. Thus putting a cloth pad to dry in the sun, as is advisable, can become a source of conflict. It is advised to ensure that the cloth pad does not become a breeding ground for bacteria. Personally, I am trying to use them but am too scared due to the horror stories I have heard of people who used rags to hold their periods and got health issues. However, doctors say these cloth pads are safe to use.

Eco-friendly pads

Another option to use is eco-friendly pads which are made of a material like bamboo. The jury is out on these though. While most claim to be organic and eco-friendly, many still have hidden plastic, making them non-sustainable. Most reviews for these products, however, are positive. Check out the brand you use to ensure you are not falling prey to greenwashing when buying these pads. The health concerns associated with any use of pads must be kept in mind too as these pads do not seem to negate them, despite claims otherwise.

Biodegradable Tampons

Tampons made of cotton and which are biodegradable are another sustainable option. However, the risk of toxic shock syndrome still applies and thus, tampons must be changed regularly, just like pads.

When sustainable period options fail- how to be imperfectly sustainable

While there are many sustainable options, according to many, including a friend Srijani Chatterjee, most require a lot of time, energy, and sometimes money. It can be difficult for a person living a fast-paced life and working multiple jobs which require them to be out of the house for several hours a day to use cloth pads, for example. Where would they store the dirty pad and how?

Shelbizleee, an environmentalist, agrees that when traveling it is okay to use disposable products if one needs to. However, what is important is to dispose of them properly, if possible.

Proper disposal of tampons and pads

In the city of Pune, a form of waste disposal management has started, known as Pad Care. One of their objectives is the proper disposal of pads themselves. This allows people to dispose of pads in an eco-friendly and human method. While not perfect, it is a step in the right direction according to influencer Yashvi Jain.

This is also part of what you can do as an imperfect sustainabilist, if you have the time and the resources for it. You can dispose of your pads in virgin plastic alternatives such as re-used plastic. Avoid paper bags as the foul small is bad for the environment. Thus, ensure that your pads are wrapped properly and in a humane manner. It is important to be healthy and considerate when disposing of menstrual waste. This is especially important because it is evident that many times animals end up choking on pads and other plastics.

Be kinder to yourself

Remember that you cannot beat climate change alone. It is a community effort and a sustained long-term activity that requires lasting change. You cannot make a change at your expense- it won’t last and it might even turn the people who love you against sustainable living.

Healthy sustainability is a must if we wish to battle the problem of climate change as a people. If despite wanting to, you are unable to join the sustainable menstruation effort, you can try imperfectly sustainable periods. Here you can use whatever period products you are comfortable using, as long as you try to be the most eco-friendly you can be.

Using a pad because that is what you’re comfortable with? Dispose of it in an eco-friendly manner and try to use eco-friendly pads. Using a tampon but can’t access a biodegradable one? Use away- your periods are a time you have to be compassionate to yourself first.

Every little bit counts towards a more sustainable future, and thus many will say it is your duty to switch to sustainable period products. However, increasing menstrual stigma isn’t a healthy way to fight climate change. Remember, it is the job of your governments and cooperations to be more sustainable, thus allowing you sustainable options. Mind-set changes happen slowly, after all, when you recognize the value something brings to your life. Until then, let’s battle climate change the best we can- with imperfect sustainability.

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