Plastic-free Period


Periods are expensive. And the products we use during this time of the month are damaging the environment. Bernadette from Don’t Mess With Dahab shares some money saving, environmentally friendly menstrual care products. Yet, it takes a little courage to get started with these reusable products, but judging from the many positive stories on the internet, especially about the menstrual cup, you will get used to it very soon and never want anything else again.

Listen up, ladies!

(Men, too, because for sure you have partners, friends, or sisters that you can pass this information on to. Although you may find the rest of the post a bit out of your comfort zone. It’s definitely not anything I thought I would ever be blogging about!)

The easiest plastic-free change I made was switching to reusable menstrual products. Not only was this good for the environment, making this switch also saved a ton of money and is better for my health!

The Environmental Impact of Periods

• Over 12 BILLION pads and tampons are USED ONCE and disposed of annually, adding to environmental pollution.

• In a woman’s lifetime, she is likely to use 15,000 sanitary pads or tampons.

• An average woman throws away 250 to 300 pounds of tampons, pads and applicators in her lifetime. The great majority of these end up in landfills, or as something the sewage treatment plants must deal with.

Read more about the environmental impact of your period here.

Health Impact of Menstrual Care Products

According to EcoWatch, “A new report by Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) details how the feminine care industry sells products containing unregulated and potentially harmful chemicals, including preservatives, pesticides, fragrances and dyes.”

The report lists the following potential health hazards associated with feminine care products:

Tampons: Hazardous ingredients may include dioxins and furans (from the chlorine bleaching process), pesticide residues and unknown fragrance chemicals. Exposure concerns include cancer, reproductive harm, endocrine disruption, and allergic rash.

Pads: Hazardous ingredients may include dioxins and furans, pesticide residues, unknown fragrance chemicals, and adhesive chemicals such as methyldibromo glutaronitrile. Exposure concerns include cancer, reproductive harm, and endocrine disruption. Studies link pad use to allergic rash.

The Solution: Reusable Menstrual Products

The environmental impact and health implications associated with tampons and pads made the decision to use reusable menstrual products easy! Two eco-friendly options for menstrual care products are reusable cloth pads and reusable menstrual cups.

Reusable Cloth Pads

“These are essentially a washable fabric version of a disposable menstrual pad. Mostly made by small businesses, these come in a huge variety of types. Using fabrics such as bamboo or cotton, they can be very absorbent and some even include a waterproof layer to give the same security as a disposable pad. Cloth Pads can be reused for many years. After they have been worn, they can be rinsed clean or left to soak and washed in a washing machine with the rest of the laundry” (Source:

Source: ItsieBitsie

Reusable cloth pads. Source: ItsieBitsie

There are plenty of DIY instructions available on the Internet on how to make your own cloth pads. Here’s one page with links to many different patterns. If you prefer pads and have a sewing machine, this option may be the one for you! And if you do have access to a sewing machine, perhaps you’d consider making extras to sell to other women in your area.

TIP: If possible, make your own reusable cloth pads. If you can’t purchase them locally, buy some the next time you are abroad and bring them back with you. Or ask a traveling friend or visitor to bring them for you.

Reusable Menstrual Cups

“There are now several brands of Menstrual Cup available around the world. A Menstrual Cup is a soft bell shaped item which is used inside the vagina to collect the flow. They are removed to be emptied, rinsed out and replaced. They can be boiled in a pot of water to be sterilised before and after each period. The one cup can last many years, can be used while swimming or sleeping and does not have the same TSS risks as tampons do. They also have a much greater capacity than tampons and can safely be kept in place for 12 hours.” (Source:

Menstrual cups. Source:

Menstrual cups. Source: MeLuna

When I moved to Dahab and decided to stop using tampons, I switched to using a menstrual cup. The only drawback to this option is the fact that you cannot purchase menstrual cups here in Egypt. But many brands ship worldwide and some even offer free shipping. Prices start at about €20. Here is a list of menstrual cup brands available. Research the options and decide which one works for you!

Note that menstrual cups are available in different materials, including silicone and a material called thermoplastic elastomer. Both have characteristics similar to that of plastic and are not biodegradable. Therefore, to avoid waste, best to look for a durable menstrual cup and avoid those that must be replaced after a year or so.

TIP: If you want to continue using tampons, choose ones without plastic applicators. That’s a lot less waste!

TIP: If you want to continue using pads, choose ones that aren’t individually wrapped. Pads are not sterilized so they don’t need the extra packaging. Read more about why you should make the switch here.

Is switching to reusable menstrual care products a change you are willing to make? Why or why not?

Remember: Refuse ~ Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Recycle.

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Happy Plastic-Free Tuesday!


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