Women have an estimated 450 periods in their lifetime, according to the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals. That’s roughly 2,280 days a typical woman spends on her period, or a little more than six years of her life.

Feminine hygiene products represent a staggering $2 billion industry in the United States alone.

“The average woman will use over 16,800 tampons and pads over the course of her lifetime,” Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) told Rewire after she reintroduced the Robin Danielson Act in 2015. This bill was drafted to research the health risks posed by several harmful chemicals found in menstrual hygiene products.

Read More: Meet Nadya Okamoto, 18-Year-Old Global Citizen Who’s Changing the Conversation About Menstruation

Although disposable pads and cotton tampons have come a long way in terms of safety since their introduction in the 1940s, scary warnings about toxic shock syndrome are still printed on the backs of the boxes they come in. Additionally, months and months of disposable menstrual products flood landfills, while reusable alternatives are usually left by the wayside.

About 250 to 300 pounds of “pads, plugs, and applicators” are thrown away in each woman’s lifetime, according to the book “Flow: The Cultural History of Menstruation.”

In other words, Aunt Flo costs a woman more than just pain and taxes. It also impacts the environment.

Here are some eco-friendly options for that time of the month that are healthier for women and the planet:

1) All-Natural, Cotton Pads and Tampons

A switch to an all-natural, cotton product could limit your contact with chemicals, synthetics, or dyes. Veeda’s 100% cotton liners and tampons are wrapped in Biofilm, a biodegradable wrap that breaks down over the course of 6-12 months. They are also sold in recyclable cardboard boxes. The only hitch: the tampon applicators are made of BPA-free plastic. However, the company does sell a non-applicator version to minimize the environmental impact.

2) Menstrual Cups

It's a circle, a circle of cups 🎶

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You read that right. The menstrual cup, which has been gaining popularity with brands like Lunette, Iris Cup, and Diva Cup, is a small, silicon cup that you insert and wear for up to 12 hours. The cups, which come in two size options, provide minimal waste and can last years.

Read More: Read More: 10 bogus beliefs about Aunt Flo and why they matter

3) Period Panties

No pants, just THINX (coz it's Sunday and it's 85 in NYC ☀️🔥)

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You might’ve seen these sleek, hip-hugging panties pop up on your Facebook news feed once, twice, maybe even thrice. That’s because THINX, the company behind the panties, popularly became the world’s first pair of “period proof” panties. The underwear can substitute or supplement traditional feminine hygiene products and, like cups, can last years.

4) Reusable Cotton Pads

You might be thinking: “No, thank you.” Hold on a second. Some reusable pads, like those sold by Glad Rags, aren’t only free of irritating synthetics and chemical gels, they’re also eco-friendly. They come in sets of three, which are all reusable. The planet will definitely be saying: “Yes, please.”

5) Sea Sponge

Check out the beautiful photos from our latest product shoot! #SeaSpongeTampons #seaclouds #seaspongelove #NaturalMenstrualProducts

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This one’s reserved only for the bravest women out there. “Sponges are plant-like creatures that grow in colonies on the ocean floor,” the product's package states. Turns out, women have been using these little suckers for thousands of years. They’re free of chemicals, bleach, chlorine, fragrance, dyes or synthetic materials. Not to mention, they’re also a naturally renewable resource and sustainably harvested. And as if that didn’t already check off all the boxes, they’re also usable for up to 3-6 months.


Demand Equity

5 Products for Your Period That Are Good for the Planet, Too

By Gabriella Canal