How to reduce your waste with zero-waste periods. The Ultimate guide to zero-waste periods

Everything You Need to Know About Having Zero Waste Periods!

If you haven’t heard yet… the planet isn’t necessarily doing that great! There are so many things, as humans, we can do to better our planet. But as women, we have one very important role to play here. That is, our periods! We produce so much waste when we are on our periods. That is why there is no better time than now to start having zero-waste periods!

What is a Zero-Waste Period?

The average cycle is anywhere between 28-32 days. That means, we have period pretty often which also means we are spending a bunch of money on period products often too! Not only are we spending money but we are also increasing our carbon footprint each and every time we have a period. That is why having a zero-waste period is so important.

Simply put, a zero-waste period is a cycle where you do not use disposable products. It can be quite a process to switch over and not use any disposable products. It can be quite a challenge for many individuals. However, it is a switch that needs to be made! 

Why Have a Zero-Waste Period?

Take care of the Earth

Think about it. So much trash is made by simply having your period! The average person will have around 456 periods in their lifetime! That is about 2,260 days on your period if you average 5 days being on your period. I will save you some time and do even more math! If you use an average of four tampons a day when on your period, you are looking at 9,120 tampons in your life! 

That is a lot of trash that only you are creating on the planet. Now, think about all of the other women ALSO contributing these numbers! Period waste alone makes up so much of the trash just sitting in our landfills. 

After seeing all of these numbers, you need to see one more super important statistic. That is, a regular tampon can take anywhere between 500-800 years to decompose. Each and every tampon you use makes an extreme impact on the planet. 

Think about it. Every tampon or pad you have ever used in your life is STILL sitting in a landfill.

Switching over to a reusable period options and having zero-waste periods can help save the planet! 

Take care of yourself

If saving the planet isn’t enough for you, how about saving yourself? You may not know this but… tampon companies are not regulated and can put whatever they want in their products. Take a look at your tampon box. Is there an ingredient list on the outside? Odds are, there isn’t! You have no idea what you are putting in your body! 

By choosing a reusable option, you are making a conscious decision on what you put in your body limiting the amount of chemicals you expose yourself to. 

If you want more information on the effect disposable period products have on our health, you can check out this link and explore more studies surrounding products and chemical testing. This may help you make the decision to finally have zero-waste periods! 

Take care of your finances

How much do you spend on feminine products? The average box of tampons is around $6 from my personal experience. People spend an estimated $1,035 in tampons alone in their lifetime. While looking at reusable options can be intimidating because they are often associated with a price like $50, this shouldn’t freak you out. This is a one time price since these products are REUSABLE! 

I know. I know. Just because they are reusable doesn’t mean they last forever. I get that. BUT… these options do typically last anywhere between 5-10 years. So think about it! One, you won’t have to worry about going out and purchasing more product when your lady friend comes to visit and you will save money over that time frame. It is a win-win!

Ultimately, you could save yourself some serious money by investing a small fortune now and having zero-waste periods! 

Related Post: 6 Ethical Underwear Brands We Love!


Types of Zero-Waste Period Products

Reusable Menstrual Pads

If you are currently using disposable pads, this may be the perfect place to start when pursuing your journey to having non-toxic periods. Menstrual pads come in varying sizes and we all know that each of us is unique even when having this shared lady experience! 

Depending on the brand, they make their menstrual pads different sizes for different coverage as you may need something a little heavier duty for nighttime since you will go a longer period of time without checking things out down there! 

Some popular brands of reusable menstrual pads are:

Lunapads (OR Aisle Pads)


Tiny Yellow Bungalow

Bloom & Nora

Eco Femme

Hannah Pads

Party in my pants

Tree Hugger

Overall Pros and Cons of Reusable Menstrual Pads

Pros Cons
  • MANY options
  • Requires special wash treatment (see below)
  • Can DIY to save money
  • Some pads can ‘slip’
  • Can use for a period, incontinence, or postpartum
  • Can leak
  • Little to no learning curve


Period Underwear

I know that for many women, pads are just seriously not comfortable! Period underwear can be a lifesaver in this case. Period underwear essentially are a pair of underwear with a built-in pad making zero-waste periods easier than ever!

There are several reasons these can be a great alternative to regular period products. First, they can be more comfortable for some women. Second, they can be used as a nice little precaution if you are also using other menstrual products. 

The biggest thing to worry about when it comes to having non-toxic period with period underwear is the chance of leaking. If you do happen to have a heavier flow and leak through these undies, it is your pants that are stained. This is an unfortunate part of using these amazing panties! 

You can find some amazing period underwearthrough the following brands:


Lunapads (OR Aisle Pads)





Intimate Portal



Overall Pros and Cons of Reusable Period Panties 

Pros Cons
  • Can come in different sizes and absorbances 
  • Can be very expensive upfront
  • Comfortable and not bulky
  • Requires special wash treatment (see below)
  • Can use for a period, heavy sweating, incontinence, postpartum
  • Can leak
  • Great for those just starting their period
  • Little to no learning curve


Menstrual Cups and Discs

If you have traditionally used tampons, switching over to a menstrual cup may be the perfect solution for your non-toxic periods! This little invention was created to comfortably rest up inside of you like a tampon but it is reusable. 

There are several menstrual cup options and it can be confusing to know which to purchase. I won’t lie either. It can be a little bit of a process to find the perfect one for you. Like I said before, we are all very unique when it comes to our period and how our bodies are made. Thankfully, there is an amazing website that can help you out a bit! They cover everything you need to know about having zero-waste periods. We will explore this a tad just below. 

Finding menstrual cups is easy when visiting each of these period product brands:

Overall Pros and Cons of Reusable Menstrual Cups and Discs

Pros Cons
  • Lifetime: up to 10 years
  • Can be expensive 
  • Many options unique to the individual 
  • Can be challenging to start/find the perfect fit
  • Change time: 8-12 hours
  • The learning curve in changing 
  • Medical grade materials 
  • Can be messy 
  • FDA approved (for those made in US)
  • Decreased risk of TSS
  • Helps maintain pH of your vagina preventing vaginal dryness
  • Ability to still have intercourse (some discs)


Put a Cup In It

This great company will help you determine which menstrual cup is perfect for you! Plus, they can answer nearly all questions you may have about zero-waste periods. All you need to do is go to their website and answer a few short questions. After these questions are answered, they will point you in the direction of some menstrual cup brands that may work for you! Keep in mind that it may take a few tries before finding one that fits perfectly (and fit is an important aspect in using menstrual cups). 

Biodegradable and Organic Cotton Pads and Tampons 

If none of these alternatives work for you and you need something a little closer to the normal disposable period products you are used to using, there are still some other options available to use for non-toxic periods! While these may not be the absolute best option for a completely eco-friendly and non-toxic period, it may be a nice start in your journey. 

Albony Mae

Bamboo Babe






Seventh Generation 


Free Bleeding 

The most radical of the non-toxic period options that some women have started opting for is free bleeding. Free bleeding is exactly as it sounds – you bleed during your period as you normally would but without any type of period product. Taking us back in history, women have started embracing the gift that nature has given us and taking eco-friendly non-toxic periods to another level. 

Depending on the person, this can be either extremely limiting or very freeing. 

Zero-Waste Periods Don’t Have to Stop Any Fun

Historically, there are certain activities some women stop during their period as the period product they use doesn’t allow for their participation. For example, swimming. Going for a swim may be quite difficult for a woman on her period if the only period product she opts to use is a pad. With this knowledge, many period product companies have tried their best to provide products to their customers to make life a bit easier during the cycle. 


The following brands offer period products safe for non-toxic periods that also can be used if you happen to spend a weekend at the lake or don’t want to stop your morning swims at the local pool. 




Ruby Love


Active Wear 

Working out is a staple activity for many people. It helps you feel better and this is especially true during your period as it can help combat period cramps. This can be hard to do though if you don’t have period products allowing you to be active. The following brands have amazing athletic products suitable for working out while on your period! 

Dear Kate



Ruby Love 

Important Questions Answered

How do I wash period undies and/or pads?

No matter the company you choose, the period undies you purchase should come with instructions on how to wash them. No one wants to go into having zero-waste periods completely blind, right? Don’t worry! The cleaning process is typically pretty easy. Generally, you can following these general steps to care for your period panties!

  1. Rinse your pad or undies with cold water until the water runs clear
  2. Toss your pad or undies in with your regular wash using cold water. Do not use bleach or fabric softener with these products. 
  3. Hang your pad or undies to dry!

What is the difference between a menstrual cup and disc? 

The most noticeable difference when you first look at both a menstrual cup and disc is simply its size and shape. Menstrual discs are wide circles while cups are typically more oval and a bit longer. 

Next, is location! This is the biggest overall difference between the cup and disc. A menstrual cup goes into your vaginal canal while a disc simply sits at the widest part of your vagina (near the opening). 

Finally, how these menstrual products work. Since the disc gets tucked up on the pubic bone, it uses this as its ‘stability force’. Menstrual cups on the other hand uses suction inside of the vagina to keep its place. 

If you are seeking more information on the differences between the two, check out Put a Cup In It! 

Can you use menstrual cups or discs with IUDs?

First and foremost, it is crucial you speak with your women’s health practitioner before using certain period products such as cups or discs with an IUD. However, some manufacturers say that you can! It is important you know there are many options for having zero-waste periods even if you are using an IUD. 

What do I do with all of my disposable products when I make the switch?

While you may be tempted to toss them all out, they will end up in the same place that you are trying to avoid by switching to reusable period products. If you are alright with using these products before tossing, go ahead! It is better to go ahead and use them first if you plan on tossing them anyway. 

If you are not OK with using them, see if a friend or family member would like them. Not everyone may want to make the switch and as we established above, it is better to use them before tossing as they will end up in the same place! 

How do I use a menstrual cup or disc?

Unfortunately, this is a difficult question to answer as it truly depends on the cup or disc you decide to use. However, there are many videos by both brand manufacturers and on Youtube helping show you how. This is extremely helpful if you are just starting out having zero-waste periods. It can be an intimidating switch! 

If you really don’t know where to start, take a visit to Put a Cup In It where they provide several helpful videos illustrating how to insert a cup and even different folds to try to better suit your needs. 

How do I know if it is inserted correctly?

The biggest indicator in knowing if a cup or disc is inserted correctly is not being able to feel it once placed. 

How do I clean my menstrual cup or disc?

As with period pads or undies, it is best to check the manufacturer’s instructions on how to clean your cup or disc. However, here is a quick and easy list of steps in case you are truly lost!

  1. Use a wash specifically made for menstrual cups
  2. Rinse your cup or disc with cold water 
  3. Between each of your cycles, make sure to boil the cup or disc for at least five minutes 

When should I dispose of my menstrual cup or disc?

There are different lifetimes on each menstrual cup or disc you purchase. You will want to make sure to read the manufacturer’s guidelines on when to toss (or how to dispose) of them when the time is right. 

However, if at any point you should find a crack, hole, or tear in your cup or disc, you must dispose of it. Even if it is the tiniest hole, it can still let in enormous amounts of bacteria! It is best to simply throw it away. Most likely, you will be able to reach out to the company to get a replacement. 

How should I dispose of them?

This is a great question! After all, we are using reusable options to lessen our overall impact on the planet. Its hard to then just toss these menstrual products in the trash when we are done with them! 

Unfortunately though, this is how you should dispose of them. Just remember how many disposable products you would have gone through in the lifetime of this one product! Just remember to buy a new one so you can continue your journey with zero-waste periods! 

Zero-Waste Periods Are the Future

Know the saying “the future is female”? That is exactly right! Now is the time for women to step up and do everything they can to ensure a future for ourselves and generations to come. The first step in doing this is to make sure there is still a planet to live on! How do we do this? By switching period products and having zero-waste periods! 

Related Post: Sustainable Swimwear brands that Rock!