Eco-Friendly Pad alternatives

Pads and other traditional period products are just a part of life, they're a go-to period product but if you're concerned with the ever-growing amount of garbage filling our oceans (and even the oceans) then you'd be right to start second guessing them.

Plastic and single-use products may be a part of life, but they do not have to be. Though pads may seem like the only option, or at least one of a few, that simply just is not the case. After all, wind the clock back throughout history and people have used all kinds of absorbent materials but as technology modernized and our love affair with plastic blossomed, plastic became a key piece of period products being sold on the market today.

Fortunately, there are lots of green alternatives to pads which we will explore in this article.

Why are pads bad for the environment?

Tracking plastic waste from period products is difficult because it is classified as medical waste and therefore does not need to be tracked. There are estimates though and they are quite staggering. In 2018, people in the US bought 5.8 billion tampons, pretty much all of which ended up in a landfill. Studies have shown that per person over a lifetime of menstruating this equates to 5,000 - 15,000 pads/tampons and 400 pounds of period product packaging. What's more, these plastic-based products are estimated to take 500-800 years to fully break down. While efforts to eliminate the tampon tax and ensure all who menstruate have access to products, the environmental impact cannot be ignored.

Fortunately there are alternatives, several in fact. From menstrual cups to period underwear, there are reusable and eco-friendly period products to choose from.

Different kinds of alternatives to pads

Just as common period products take many forms, so do their substitutes. The most common period product alternatives are:

  • Period underwear
  • Menstrual cups
  • Menstrual discs
  • Reusable pads

We'll explore a few of them in this article though check out our list of alternatives to tampons for other products.

How does period underwear work?

Period underwear works just like any normal pad would. These highly-absorbent pairs of underwear absorb liquid and leaks. Normal underwear is made from spandex or cotton, period underwear though is usually made from a more absorbent form of cotton (called cellulose) along with extra padding for more absorbency. The result is a pair of underwear that have you covered without creating single-use waste.

How do you wash period underwear?

It varies from brand to brand, most period underwear should be washed in cold water to avoid stains. Then, hand washing or machine washing will do the trick. Hang dry and your period underwear is ready for re-use.

Is period underwear as effective as pads?

You bet! At the end of the day, the materials are very similar and accomplish the same job. The difference being that pads go into the trash whereas you can wear, and re-wear period underwear as long as you take good care of them.

The best eco friendly pad alternatives

1. Saalt Period underwear

Price: Varies

Materials: Made from TENCEL™️ Modal cotton, a type of textile made from cellulose fiber from renewable beech wood.

Brand ethics: Saalt is a certified B Corp, they donate 2% towards period care and menstrual health in developing countries while maintaining a commitment to sustainability.

Saalt productes a variety of period products from menstrual cups to period underwear. Saalt period underwear comes in a variety of colors and styles, offering you highly absorbant yet stylish underwear to cut down on waste created from pads. Made from soft-stretch TENCEL™ Modal, this organic fabric results in a soft fabric made from sustainably regenerated cellulose fiber that comes from renewable beech wood.

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2. Thinx period underwear

Price: Varies

Materials: Primarily made from USA-grown SUPIMA®️ cotton along with TENCEL™️ Modal cotton, a plant-based textile made from beech tree pulp, which is biodegradable.

Brand ethics: Thinx is committed to sustainability, and donate one pair of underwear for each pair purchased to promote menstrual health and period care in underserved countries.

Thinx offers a variety of styles for their highly-absorbent period underwear. Made from Modal cotton these underwear offers breathable protection during your period that helps to eliminate waste.

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3.Knix period underwear

Price: Varies

Materials: 70% Nylon 30% Spandex for the underwear, and 84% Modal, 8% seaweed, 8% spandex for the Gusset.

Brand ethics: Knix is committed to sustainability, and is raising money for companies dedicated to menstrual health and solving period poverty with the Knix fund.

Knix is an underwear and active wear brand that offers far more than just period underwear, but they're doing their part to help eliminate waste and save our planet. Knix offers period underwear in a variety of styles and colors, all boasting comfort and leakproof protection to provide backup for a menstrual cup.

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4. Glad Rags Reusable pads

Price: $12.00+

Materials: 100% cotton, these panty liners can be washed and re-used as long as they are maintained.

Brand ethics: Glad Rags is a woman owned business and Certified B-corp. Not only are they committed to their community but they also allow visitors to their website to sponsor individuals in need with period products.

These cloth panty liners by Glad Rags are an excellent alternative to tampons. Made from 100% organic cotton they are highly absorbent and can be re-used. Ideally these are used with a menstrual cup or as a backup to a tampon as opposed to a primary choice for period care.

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Why we like these green alternatives