For many of us who have periods - they don’t tend to be the most pleasant experience. Periods are a very personal thing, so it’s important to note that it’s okay to not want to deviate from your routine and products. All that said, if you are looking to try more sustainable options, it’s a good idea to try on the lighter days of your period.
Menstrual cups are probably the most sustainable period product; you can keep them for at least a decade and you only really need one! With period panties (depending on how often you do laundry) you’ll have to buy a few pairs. The only reason that period panties be may preferable is if you have an IUD, as there is an increased risk that an IUD (a contraceptive device) can become dislodged if using a menstrual cup.
TPE is the memory foam of menstrual cups. It literally moulds to your shape with your body heat - making it a much more pleasant experience. It’s biodegradable, compared to silicon which can take hundreds of years to break down. Silicone is produced by mixing 2 compounds, and once cured, the process cannot be reversed. This means that any “leftovers” from production, automatically become waste byproducts. TPE production on the other hand, consumes less energy AND any production waste can be heated and reused.
The first thing to do when you get your cup is, sanitise it. The best method is to boil some water in a pot and submerge the cup in the water for between 5 and 10 minutes, keep stirring it so it doesn’t stay at the bottom of the pot too long - because it can burn. During your period, you can just rinse it in water before putting it back in, making sure your hands are clean when removing and inserting.
Once your period is over, do the same boiling method to kill all bacteria before storing; and there you have it! Your first waste-free period.
With regards to period pants, just like other products, you’ll want to think about your flow, and buy underwear accordingly. You may choose to buy different pairs for different flows, brand Modibodi allows you to “shop by flow”. If you are particularly sensitive (or live in a hot climate) you may want to turn to a bamboo fabric underwear. Bamboo viscose is comparable to cotton - and is a sustainably sound option for your underwear needs.
For obvious reasons, you don’t want to wash your used period underwear with your other clothes. Not only is it environmentally better to wash your period underwear in cold water - it is actually the best way to wash period blood out of anything. Possibly a bit TMI, imagine that hot water is literally cooking your blood, allowing bacterial growth - whereas cold water rehydrates the dried blood cells and washes them out. For detergents, you can use anything (just not fabric softener) - but Method is a household sustainable favourite - and their “free + clear” non-perfume detergent is perfect for washing any underwear; no fragrance means no irritation.