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  • Writer's pictureOne Small Step

Sustainable Periods: Our how to guide

Updated: Mar 10, 2022

Sustainable menstrual product options

The average menstruating person uses up to 12,000 disposable pads, liners & tampons in their lifetime. Since many of these products contain synthetic materials like plastic, this equates to about 120kg of plastic waste per person that ends up in landfill. Yikes!

The plastic period problemo:

Most disposable tampons come wrapped in plastic. Some are encased in plastic applicators, attached with plastic strings, and some even have a thin layer of plastic inside the absorbent part of the tampon. And disposable pads generally contain even more plastic.

So, what's the problem? Plastic applicators and lining can't be recycled. Instead, they take approximately 500-800 years for them to biodegrade in landfill. Plus, a minority of naughty people flush pads and tampons down the loo! Sadly, when they don't clog the ol' turlet, this means they end up in our waterways as harmful microplastics.

We aren't pointing fingers though. Considering there are over 1.8 billion menstruating people worldwide, it's unfortunate that there is still a cultural taboo surrounding periods and menstruation, which prevents some of us from talking more openly about this.

The good news is that there are now some amazingly popular and great value alternatives to single-use menstrual products, that reduce the amount of waste you generate, while saving you money and improving the environmental footprint of the stuff you buy.

Our totally free Sustainable Periods course in the One Small Step app, is intended to run you through your options and help you pick the best combination for you. If that means sticking with what you know and are comfortable with, we support you. Happily, there are HEAPS of products out there that are widely used, have a lower hassle-factor than one-time-use options (no more monthly trips to the chemist for your significant other or supportive housemate), a much lower environmental impact compared to standard disposable tampons and pads, and all of which are pretty much guaranteed to save you money over time!

Here's a hot tip: If you prefer tampons, try menstrual cups! And if you prefer pads, go for period undies!

There are tons of options online, and we give you a comprehensive list of green providers in our in-app course. To start with, you could check out Modibodi.

Here's what our free Sustainable Periods in-app course will take you through:

  1. Intro to sustainable period products - the problem with plastics and finding the right eco-friendly product for you (e.g. cups, undies, pads)

  2. Menstrual cups - choosing the right type of menstrual cup for you (based on - yoips! - measuring your cervix, cup capacity based on your menstrual flow, and a size guide based on your age, pregnancy and a couple of other factors); which menstrual cup products we recommend, how to use your menstrual cup (including a first-timers animated video guide), plus cleaning & sanitising your cup

  3. Period undies & reusable pads - get the right period undies for you, which ones we recommend, how to wash & care for them, plus a user guide to reusable pads with reusable pad recommendations

  4. Organic cotton tampons & pads - what are the options? Bonus: Disposal & composting!

One Small Step offers a completely free, interactive step-by-step guide on greenifying your period (eww okay, maybe poor choice of words). We've done the research for you and outlined how to reduce plastic waste by skipping out on single use sanitary items, and upgrading to some longer lasting, cheaper, more ecologically sustainable alternatives. Plus, we also feature some really wonderful social enterprises offering sustainable menstrual care that you can choose to support, to help get period products to people in need, and we've partnered with them to offer you some discounts. From figuring out which option to go with, to getting up to speed on implementing your new sustainable menstrual care system, One Small Step shows you exactly which actions to take and helps you every step of the way.

One Small Step Sustainable period program

One Small Step’s mission is to help millions of people achieve net zero emissions so that together we can create a healthier future for our planet. You can download the app for free today to start cutting your personal emissions and track your impact as you do it. You’ll be joining tens of thousands of others taking small steps towards a better world.

Illustration of menstrual cup, period underwear and cotton pad


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