A Green Cycle: Alternative Feminine Hygiene Products

Everyone knows that once a month every woman gets her period and this requires a supply of pads and tampons. There are all kinds of commercials advertising the latest in pad technology to ensure you feel as comfortable as possible. Well that’s great but I have to say when I really started to think about it, a super absorbent pad did not ease my comfort level when it came time to throw it out, thinking to myself about how much waste it was contributing to.  An estimated 12 billion feminine hygiene products are dumped into the North American environment each year.

So tampons might be better right because they are smaller? Well maybe but its still waste (7 billion tampons dumped each year) and there can be side effects to using tampons such as toxic shock syndrome and vaginal ulcers. Moreover most tampons are made of non-organic cotton and the treatment of this cotton with pesticides and insecticides has a very high impact on the environment. $2 billion US worth of chemicals are sprayed on the world’s cotton crops every year. Close to half of these chemicals are considered toxic enough to be classified as hazardous by the World Health Organization and yet these chemicals leach into the waterways and are breathed in by the locals farming these fields.

Alternative feminine hygiene products

So what are the alternatives? Well there are many. To start with, if you do like to use pads, you can choose ones made from organic cotton and that are biodegradable. I have bought feminine hygiene products by the brand Natracare at Loblaws. There are of course many other brands out there, most found at health food stores. With the Natracare brand, they are made of organic cotton, are chlorine free (another benefit to the environment) and have a lot less packaging than the standard pads i.e. not every pad is individually wrapped.  The best part is these will not cost you any more than the less green kind. For comparison, a box of 14 Natracare pads costs $6-7 while a box of 14 Always pads costs $6.

feminine hygiene products diva cup

Image via Wikipedia

If you prefer to use tampons, an alternative is to use a Diva Cup. The up front cost is more ($40-50) but one Diva Cup will last you at

least one whole year and over that one year you will save a lot of money compared to using tampons. The average box of 18 tampons will cost about $7.  Say you need a minimum of 3/day for a week every month that means you will need 14 boxes of tampons which will cost you $98/year!  The feminine hygiene product Diva Cup will cost you half as much.

The Diva Cup  is not difficult to use. It can be washed with normal soap and water on a daily basis and cleaned in boiling hot water from time to time when discoloration occurs. And although the Diva Cup is made from silicone, it is phthalate-free, latex-free, plastic-free and BPA-free. Personally I think that this feminine hygiene product is one of the greatest inventions for women!

So like the adds say “Have a Happy Period”, I say have a green one!

Have you considered greening your feminine hygiene products?

30 comments to A Green Cycle: Alternative Feminine Hygiene Products

  • I’ve had my Diva Cup for over three years now. I think they’re actually meant to last ten years.

    • Aryn, glad you are also a Diva Cup fan! The Diva Cup site says its up the the individual user to determine when it is time to discard it but does also say that because it is a personal hygiene product, its best to replace it once a year.

  • Great post. This is definitely something that should be discussed when it comes to being green.
    I am personally a tampon girl. Pads feel too much like diapers.
    I must say I am not a huge diva cup fan. Being a health care professional, the cross contamination that can occur while cleaning it etc, is not something I want to be at risk with.
    What I am into though is the smaller tampons, those with eco friendly wrapping and biodegradeable components. I have been trying a few out and once I find the one I like the best I will follow up with a comment.

    • thanks for the feedback Miss T. I have not seen these tampons with the eco friendly wrapping. What is the wrapping made of? Good to hear they are biodegradable. I look forward to hearing about your favourite pick.

  • The Saved Quarter

    I’ve had mine for 5 years and it hasn’t occurred to me to toss it, since it does its job just fine and I clean it well each month after I use it.

    I wrote about it recently in a post about 7 unexpected ways to replace disposable products.

  • I am eco-concious and use reusable pads from the makers of the Divacup: Lunapads. I use to be a tampon girl but never got use to the diva cup… so now its reusable cotton pads for me. They are really easy to use, just throw them in the washing machine. I have used them for over a year now, and they are great. The bonuses are: no more sticky adhesive, no more pads that don’t breath… fewer yeast infections, higher comfort level and smaller expense. I figured a year I would spend around $105 on the tampons I was using, and liners as backup for the first day or two. I got setup with Lunapads for less and they will last much longer! Reusable products are a fabulous money-saver!

    • thanks Avigayil for the comment. I have heard and seen these reusable pads but have never used them myself. Do you give them a quick rinse before the washing machine and then throw them in with other clothing items? It took me a while to get used to the diva cup and now I love it but I know its not for everyone. Glad to hear you have a green solution you like.

      • Thank you for your reply. Giving them a quick rinse is best, that way they won’t stain. I throw them in with a delicate load in the washer and hang them to dry. If they do stain a bit I use an all natural stain remover stick, and it works wonders. I am excited to try the new soak bag Lunapads has released, but is current out of stock.

        I do love the concept of the Diva Cup. I wanted to enjoy it so much. But It is painful for me to insert and then my vagina tends to swallow it.. so it becomes painful to remove. O.o Makes me think I am abnormal!

        • thanks Avigayil, I will look for those reusable pads when I need some again (one of the perks of being pregnant-don’t need any for a while!) And what is the natural stain remover stick that you use? I’m sure it comes in handy for all sorts of stains.

          • I use the BunchaFarmers Scented Stain Remover. It is all natural and bio-degradable. It works wonders on wine stains too! :D

            There is a link to it here, but also out of stock. Popular product I guess!