Everything you wanted to know about zero waste periods, but were afraid to ask.
After years of slowly progressing to better period products, I’ve finally found my groove with a zero waste period system. As I’ve done so, I’ve wondered about how this would work for teens. So I asked one. A lot of what she describes, applies to anyone who has a period. From school bathrooms to work bathrooms, changing or cleaning period products can be a challenge. Menstruating teens and parents alike (especially those that are postpartum or perimenopausal) can experience irregular periods making options like period underwear attractive solutions for unpredictable days. Keep reading to learn more about how these challenges can be overcome.
Got a teen that may be ready to move to a zero-waste period? Here are some things to consider:
From a Beatrice Mellsop (a teen that uses zero waste period products) —
After talking to friends about low or zero waste period products, the general consensus is pretty much the same: they’re all something we’d like to try, but very few of us actually have. The appeal of products like the Diva Cup or Thinx underwear are clear: they reduce waste,making them more environmentally friendly, and they are also more long-term cost efficient. Though cost may not matter too much to most teens, I attend a boarding school, which involves buying my own weekly groceries and toiletries. My friends and I all agree that $7 or so spent on a box of tampons is a painful dent in our various weekly budgets. Menstrual cups and period underwear that will last for years are a worthwhile investment in the eyes of boarding school students and other economically conscious teens.
Being a teen with a period does come with some difficulties, however. Public, multi-stall bathrooms make it easy to dispose of pads and tampons, but not quite as easy to change period underwear or clean a menstrual cup. Thinx or other period underwear are not something I’ve personally used, but I would imagine that those with heavier flows would find it difficult to change or clean their underwear while at school. Underwear might need to be combined with a tampon or cup in order to stay protected.
Cups, on the other hand, require more of a mental solution. Either wipe it down after emptying it, then disinfect it when you get home, or swallow your pride, embrace the messier parts of womanhood, and just clean it in the school bathroom’s sink. (Though I suggest carrying a bottle of your own gentle soap to use–I doubt harsh, cherry-scented, public restroom hand soap is fit for a vagina.)
When it comes to choosing period products, the most important factor is comfort. When I bought my Diva Cup, I was looking for something that would be less bulky than pads,but wouldn’t absorb vaginal fluids like tampons do. It does the job well; though it’s larger than a tampon and was uncomfortable the first few uses, I got used to it quickly. The cup is, in my opinion, much more comfortable for longer amounts of time than tampons. They’re the sort of product you can insert, then forget about for the rest of the day until it comes time to empty it. If you’re more of a pad girl, absorbent period underwear works wonderfully. Cups and underwear, along with organic pads and tampons, are excellent ways to help the environment each month, but personal comfort is more important than anything.
Want to switch to a zero or low-waste period? Here are some brands to look into.
FWIW, there’s a huge world of period product reviews on YouTube, especially from teens directly. Curious about any of these products? Hop on over there to find a great review (some of which are linked below.)