Zero Waste Period Gear

WARNING: If you lack female parts, or are particularly squeamish, this post may not be for you. Reader discretion is advised.

I just finished that time of the month. You know what I’m talking about.

I used to buy packages of maxi pads every month and chucked the little plastic wrappers, liners, and the pads themselves away in a monthly mega-haul of embarrassing proportions and unmentionable content.

Not anymore. I want to share with you how I went zero waste in this area of my life. Years ago, I started using what many call “mama cloth” (my four-year-old calls them “mommy’s diapers”) and I still use this variety of period gear today. Greener still is the menstrual cup that I learned about later. I bought a Luna Cup.

Basics

“Mama cloth” is the cloth version of a maxi pad. They usually use snaps to attach the wings around the gusset of your underwear.

The menstrual cup (and there are many brands) is a funnel shaped cup with no hole in the bottom. It is most often made of medical grade silicone. You insert it while folded and allow the opening to pop open inside of you, thus creating a suction seal. The cup catches the flow.

Trouble Shooting

Many women rave about menstrual cups. They are lightweight, compact, long lasting, and super easy to clean. They are very minimalist too. After a couple of months of practice, many women feel confident to use a cup exclusively. These women are often so confident that they use them while wearing a bathing suit during their periods! Amazing and more power to them!

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the enviable success that these women enjoy. In the interest of full disclosure, and the desire to help women who have a similar experience, I’ll tell you what I do.

I’m not sure whether the Luna Cup is just not shaped or sized correctly for my body (some women shop around before settling on a menstrual cup) or if, perhaps, the slight leakage I do get can be put down to human error.

What I like to do is double up on my protection. I use the cup and then a cloth pad attached to my underwear. I need far fewer pads (usually just one a day), because I use them to catch leaks. I use Diva Wash to clean my cup and store it in a nice little breathable cotton bag when it’s not in use. My favorite retail cloth pad is made by Bububibi.

On The Go

When traveling, I like using a little pouch intended to store cloth diaper wipes. Planet Wise puts out a style that has a front pouch to store clean gear and a lined pouch that can store used gear. I simply turn it inside out to wash it in the washing machine.

Typically, you will not need to remove a menstrual cup during the day, but if you’re traveling, you can take a squirt bottle (such as an old dish soap bottle) and fill it with water in a public bathroom sink. Then, in the stall, you can remove, dump, and squirt clean before re-inserting the cup or putting it in a wipes pouch.

You could also use disposables when traveling, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

Cleaning 

I use peroxide on my mama cloth to combat stains and I soak in a metal bowl with some Super Washing Soda and cold water. I wash the pads with the cloth diapers or rags/towels wash.

I wash the Diva Cup with warm water and Diva Wash and I dry it in its cotton pouch. I occasionally boil the cup and will probably use this method after the Diva Wash has been used up to avoid buying more plastic.

Pictured: a Planet Wise wipe pouch, a Bububibi mama cloth, a Diva cup in baggie, Diva Wash, and a Lunapads mama cloth with three inserts.

 

How About You?

Do you use any of this gear? Did you have problems with the cup? Did they go away with practice? A new size? A new brand? I’d love to hear about it! If you’re willing, please post in the comments below.

Until next time, keep that talk walking!

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