Can Periods and Sustainability Go Hand-in-Hand?

Can Periods and Sustainability Go Hand-in-Hand?

By Maya Gandhi

To many, the most obvious way to reduce waste is by swapping out plastic sandwich bags for reusable to-go containers, dryer sheets for reusable dryer balls, or cotton pads for bamboo rounds, but what about period products? The average menstruator uses approximately five liners/pads and twenty tampons per cycle! Relying on non-reusable period products as the status quo is both expensive and wasteful, equating to approximately 11,000 period products over a lifetime. For those without access to appropriate sanitation methods, nonresuable period products are a safe and sanitary way to manage one’s cycle. However, menstruators with this luxury can make better choices to ease the burden on the world’s landfills. 

Quick Period Waste Facts

  1. Cotton, a material used in traditional pads and tampons, requires 10,000 L of water/kg of cotton. This water-intensive production process contributes to water scarcity and depletion of rivers and lakes.
  2. Pads and tampons have been found to include toxic chemicals including, but not limited to, styrene (a human carcinogen), chloromethane (a reproductive toxicant), chloroethane (a carcinogen), chloroform (a carcinogen, reproductive toxicant and neurotoxin), and acetone (an irritant).
  3. The processing of low-density polyethylene (a form of plastic found in tampon applicators and the plastic strip on the bottom of pads) is a leading contributor to global warming.

Luckily, there are various trail-blazing companies that are looking to build a more sustainable future for period products. Here are some of our favourites: 

Sustainable Period Care | Ruth


Founded by Nicole Sanchez and Anka Chan, Ruth has goals of environmental sustainability, social equity, and economic growth. Ruth Pads are made of materials (such as kenaf fibre) harvested from a renewable plant source and starch-based bioplastic, which requires less greenhouse gas emissions to produce than other commonly used plastics. The pads are biodegradable, disposable, and comfortable!

If you are interested in seeing what all the hype is about, check out Ruth’s Kickstarter campaign! The company is allowing contributors to test the product in exchange for a donation.

DivaCup Menstrual Cup, 1 unit, Model 1 – Diva International Inc. : Pads and  cup | Jean Coutu


DivaCup’s claim to fame is their chemical- free, medical grade silicone, cost-effective menstrual cup! The DivaCup can be worn for up to 12 hours straight and then washed and used again. Designed for easy insertion and a super comfortable feel, the DivaCup is winning over traditional period product users across the country.

Diva International Inc., the maker of the DivaCup, is also a Certified B Corporation, which means that as a for profit company, it aims to solve social and environmental problems. Evidenced through their supplier assessments and DivaCares advocacy and education program, the company has proven a commitment to sustainable sourcing and making effective change. Diva International Inc. has been advancing the menstrual equity movement since 2002 and has distributed over 30,000 menstrual cups worldwide since 2018.

Saalt Wear

Also a Certified B Corportation, Saalt Wear works to tackle period poverty and education all while producing sustainably made menstrual cups and reusable period underwear. The underwear are toxin-free and come in a variety of styles and colours and can be worn and washed over and over again.

In addition to donating 24,832 Cups and diverting the use of 4,682,959 traditional period products, Saalt has also funded 100,400 days of school for young girls and 15,680 pounds of coastline cleanup.

Investing in these sustainable period products is just one way to reduce the waste in your life and improve your personal health!