Zero Waste Period Options: Sustainable Alternatives to Traditional Menstrual Products

Are you tired of constantly contributing to the landfill every time you have your period? Do you want to make more sustainable choices but don’t know where to start? If so, you’re not alone. I have been struggling with this issue myself and have been searching for zero waste period options that are both environmentally friendly and healthy for my body. Fortunately, I have found plenty of sustainable alternatives to traditional menstrual products that can help reduce waste and promote better menstrual health. In this article, I’ll share some of the best zero waste period options I have discovered.

This post may contain affiliate links, please read my disclosure for more info.

The Problem with Traditional Menstrual Products

In this paragraph, I’ll share the benefits of switching to reusable period products, including the economical, environmental, and health advantages.

Economical Cost

As someone who menstruates, I know how expensive disposable period products can be. On average, a box of tampons costs around $7, and I could use up to 20 tampons per cycle. That means I could spend around $84 per year on tampons alone. Over a lifetime, that adds up to thousands of dollars. But with reusable period products, such as cloth pads that cost around $50 for a set, I can save money in the long run.

Environmental Cost

Another factor to consider is the environmental cost of disposable period products. I learned that over the course of my lifetime, I could use an estimated 5 to 15 thousand pads and tampons, most of which end up in landfills. These products are often made with plastic and synthetic materials that do not biodegrade and can take hundreds of years to break down. Fortunately, reusable period products like menstrual cups and cloth pads can significantly reduce waste.

Health Reasons

I also found a study that shows that conventional menstrual products can be harmful to our health. For example, some tampons contain synthetic materials that can produce a carcinogen called dioxin. Conventional products can also contain allergens, reproductive toxins, and endocrine disruptors. However, reusable period products such as cloth pads and menstrual cups are typically made with safer, more natural materials like organic cotton, bamboo, and medical-grade silicone or latex, making them a healthier option for me and my body.

Zero Waste Period Options 

Thankfully, there are several zero waste period options that can help reduce waste and promote better menstrual health. Here are some of the most popular alternatives.

Menstrual Cups

These are small, flexible cups made of medical-grade silicone or latex that are inserted into the vagina to collect menstrual fluid. They can be used for up to 10 years and are a great zero waste option. Some pros include:

  • Cost-effective: A menstrual cup can cost between $20 and $40 and lasts for up to 10 years, so it can save you money in the long run.
  • Low maintenance: Menstrual cups can be washed and reused, which means you don’t have to worry about constantly buying and disposing of tampons or pads.
  • Fewer leaks: Once you get the hang of inserting the cup properly, it should provide leak-free protection for up to 12 hours.


  • Learning curve: Some people find it takes a bit of practice to insert and remove the cup properly.
  • Not one size fits all: There are various sizes and shapes of menstrual cups available, so you may need to experiment to find the right one for you.

My Favorite Menstrual Cup – Diva Cup

The Diva Cup is my go-to menstrual cup. It’s made of medical-grade silicone, which means it’s safe and comfortable to wear. It’s also easy to insert and remove, and I don’t have to worry about leaks. Plus, it’s reusable for up to 10 years, so I save money and reduce waste.

Period Underwear

These are absorbent underwear that can be worn on their own or as a backup to another menstrual product. They can be washed and reused for up to 2 years. Some pros include:

  • Easy to use: Simply wear the underwear like regular underwear and change as needed.
  • Comfortable: Many people find period underwear more comfortable than traditional pads or tampons.
  • Eco-friendly: They can reduce waste as they are reusable and can last for a few years.


  • Limited absorbency: Some period underwear may not be absorbent enough for heavy flow days.
  • Upfront cost: They may have a higher upfront cost compared to disposable pads or tampons.

My Favorite Period Underwear – Thinx

Thinx period underwear is a game-changer for me. They’re comfortable, absorbent, and come in various styles. I no longer have to worry about leaks or using disposable products on heavy days. Plus, Thinx uses sustainable materials in their products and promotes education about menstrual health.

Reusable Cloth Pads

These are cloth pads that can be washed and reused for several years. They come in different shapes and sizes and can be fastened to underwear with snaps or velcro. Some pros include:

  • More eco-friendly: Cloth pads can significantly reduce waste and are a great alternative to disposable pads.
  • More comfortable: Many people find cloth pads more comfortable than disposable ones.
  • Cost-effective: Although they have a higher upfront cost compared to disposables, cloth pads can save you money in the long run.


  • Upfront cost: Cloth pads can be more expensive upfront than disposable pads or tampons.
  • Need to be washed: You’ll need to wash them after each use, which may require extra effort.

My Favorite Cloth Pads – GladRags

GladRags cloth pads are my preferred option for overnight use. They’re made of organic cotton, which feels soft and breathable. The pads are also easy to wash and dry, and they come in cute patterns. They can last for several years, so they’re a cost-effective and sustainable choice.

Organic Tampons

Organic tampons are made with organic cotton and are free from synthetic materials and chemicals. They come in different sizes and absorbencies to suit your needs. Some pros include:

  • Safer for your health: Organic tampons are made with safer and more natural materials, which can reduce the risk of irritation, infection, or exposure to harmful chemicals.
  • Eco-friendly: Organic tampons are a better alternative to conventional tampons that can contribute to waste and environmental pollution.
  • Convenient: Tampons are easy to use and can be discreet.


  • Expensive: Organic tampons can be more expensive than conventional ones, and they may not be readily available in all stores.
  • Not reusable: Unlike reusable cloth pads or menstrual cups, tampons are disposable and need to be replaced after each use.

My Favorite Organic Tampon Brand – Cora

Cora is a great brand of organic tampons that I highly recommend. Their tampons are made with certified organic cotton and are free from harmful chemicals, fragrance, or dyes. They come in a range of absorbencies and sizes, and their packaging is recyclable and compostable. Cora also donates a portion of their profits to provide menstrual products to girls in need, which makes them a socially responsible and ethical choice.

Menstrual discs

Menstrual discs are small, flexible cups that are inserted into the vaginal canal to collect menstrual blood. They’re typically made of medical-grade silicone or rubber and come in various sizes to fit different body shapes. Some pros of using menstrual discs include:

  • Long-lasting protection: Menstrual discs can be worn for up to 12 hours without needing to be emptied, making them a convenient option for people who are on the go.
  • Less noticeable: Because they sit higher in the vaginal canal than tampons or menstrual cups, menstrual discs are less noticeable and can be a great option for people who want to feel more comfortable during physical activities.
  • Less mess: Menstrual discs are designed to collect blood instead of absorbing it, which can result in less mess and fewer leaks.


  • Learning curve: Menstrual discs can take some getting used to, as they require a specific insertion technique that may be unfamiliar to some people.
  • Higher upfront cost: Menstrual discs can be more expensive upfront than traditional menstrual products like tampons or pads.

My Favorite Menstrual Disc Brand – Soft Disc

Softdisc is a great option for anyone who wants a comfortable, leak-free period. It’s hypoallergenic, BPA-free, phthalate-free, and latex-free. Plus, it’s the only internal product not linked to TSS. Softdisc holds up to 5 tampons worth of fluid and is suitable for heavy or light periods. It’s also super comfortable and easy to change, remove, and dispose of on the go. With Softdisc, you won’t have to worry about leaks during exercise, swimming, or even sex.

Common Questions About Zero Waste Period Products: Answered

Are zero waste period options more expensive than traditional menstrual products?

Not necessarily. While some zero waste period options may have a higher upfront cost, they are often more cost-effective in terms of long-term use. For example, a menstrual cup may cost more than a pack of tampons initially, but it can last for up to 10 years, which can save you money in the long run.

Are zero waste period options as effective as traditional menstrual products?

Yes! Zero waste period options are just as effective, if not more so, than traditional menstrual products. In fact, many people find that menstrual cups, cloth pads, and period underwear are more comfortable and offer better protection than traditional products.

Can I use zero waste period options if I have a heavy flow?

Yes! Many zero waste period options, such as menstrual cups and period underwear, can hold more fluid than traditional products, making them a great option for those with a heavy flow. Cloth pads and sea sponge tampons can also be a good choice, as they can be layered for extra protection.

How do I clean and care for zero waste period options?

The cleaning and care instructions will vary depending on the product, but most zero waste period options can be washed with mild soap and water or a specially formulated cleaner. It’s important to follow the care instructions carefully to ensure the longevity of the product.

Can I use zero waste period options while exercising?

Yes! Zero waste period options are great for active people who want to stay comfortable and protected during exercise. Menstrual cups, period underwear, and menstrual discs are all great options for exercising.

Are zero waste period options better for my health?

Yes! Many traditional menstrual products contain chemicals and synthetic materials that can be harmful to the body. Zero waste period options, such as menstrual cups, cloth pads, and organic tampons, are made from natural materials that are safer for the body and the environment.


Making the switch to zero waste period options is not only better for the environment, but it’s also better for your health. By choosing sustainable alternatives to traditional menstrual products, you can reduce waste and help create a more eco-friendly future. Whether you choose to use menstrual cups, cloth pads, period underwear, or another zero waste option, you can feel good knowing that you’re making a positive impact on the planet.

So, next time you’re shopping for menstrual products, consider trying one of these zero waste period options instead. Your body and the environment will thank you.