6 Minute Read Who’s hungry? Oh wait…that’s me! But seriously, let’s talk about food ‘cus I’ve got some goodies for you. One of the biggest sources of household waste comes from the kitchen: Ziploc bags, Glad Tupperware, and dare I say it . . […]
5 Minute Read “More than 8 million tons of plastic is dumped into our oceans every year” (Plastic Oceans Foundation), and that number is expected to increase tenfold in the next decade. If this doesn’t put your radars on high alert, let’s take a look […]
7 Minute Read
Women are socialized to be discrete about something that happens to them every month, but today I am bringing it front and center. Yup! We’re gonna talk about women’s periods. Men, this ain’t your blog post (. . . unless you’re just curious).
I’ve used pads and panty shields since my very first period. To put it simply, they’re the perfect catalyst for chaffing, and make you feel like you’re sitting in a wet, smelly pool. Personally, I could never really figure out tampons, and after several failed attempts when going to the beach as a teenager, I just gave up on them. Some of you may be wondering why any of this is relevant to the environment. After all, isn’t menstruating ‘natural’? Well of course it is, but the trash created as a result isn’t so natural.
Disposable pads, originally invented in the late 1800’s, are made of cotton, cellulose (that is often bleached), and plastic. When combined with menstrual waste (i.e. period blood), they are very difficult and expensive to recycle, which means that those single-use pads will seek a tenured position as a landfill squatter, and will take centuries to decompose.
“In the US alone, there are over 85 million women of menstruating age, and according to the National Women’s Health Network, they contribute approximately twelve billion pads and 7 million tampons to [the] landfill each year” (Menstruation.com).
So what’s the Green (or Red) Solution to disposable pads?
Allow me to introduce you to Period Panties! We’ve been dating for over a year, and we’re getting along grand!
Wait . . . WTF is a period panty? Its a panty that has extra layers within it to collect your period blood. It looks and feels like a regular panty, but has all the benefits and coverage of wearing a pad without that ‘wet’ feeling, and more importantly, without any pads to throw away. This is the perfect zero waste, sustainable solution because you simply wear the period panty as you would any other underwear and wash it when you’re done.
Oddly enough, I first learned about period panties on the New York City subway. I saw these rogue ads all over the subway platforms and stations. The company, THINX, focused on breaking down the stereotypes and taboos associated with women’s periods. Their approach really resonated with me, so I decided to try one out. Admittedly, I was weary about how I would wash it, but it was surprisingly easy and not icky like I had anticipated. After that, I was convinced and ended up buying 3 more so that I wouldn’t have to buy pads ever again.
Curious how it works? THINX has different cuts and styles based on your flow. For example, you can use the thong for light days and a hiphugger for heavy days. Each of their designs states the tampon equivalent of how much it can hold, so you don’t have to guess which one will give you the coverage you need. I tried a few different styles and found that the threading on their lace panties tends to unravel a bit, so in the future, I will stick to the lace-free options. My personal favorites are the ‘boyshort’ and the ‘sport’ panties. They are comfortable, well-made, and the coverage is the perfect combination for my flow.
I know you probably have a million questions, so here’s a quick video to give you the low-down (with a dash of humor):
What about Tampons?
According to the National Center for Health Research, a woman who primarily uses tampons will go through about 12,000 of them in her lifetime, and with approximately 43 million women currently using tampons in the US (SafeCosmetics.org), that’s an enormous amount of waste going to the landfill.
Now, some women simply prefer tampons to pads, and I totally get that. In the same way that I couldn’t figure out how to use tampons, some women don’t like the idea of sitting in their blood all day. If this sounds like you, then there is also a sustainable solution for you. Its called a Menstrual Cup. You insert it as you would a tampon and the cup collects the blood. You remove, empty, and clean it between each use, leaving you with an infinite supply of coverage.
There are several menstrual cups on the market, but two companies have really taken it to the next level in terms of design, safety, and comfort. AND they are focused on sustainably manufacturing and shipping their products with minimal impact on the environment.
lunette menstrual cup is made of medical grade silicone. Its BPA free, vegan, and contains no latex. It lasts for several years, and pays for itself after only 3 period cycles. Their “mission is to have [an] honest and inspiring conversation about menstruation so that we can motivate period positivity—and change the world one cup at a time.”
lena menstrual cup is made in the USA “using locally sourced and tested materials. [Their] 100% post-consumer waste packaging is produced using bio-gas and is chlorine-free. It is certified by the FSC (Forestry Stewardship Council) and printed using vegetable inks” (Lena). In terms of price, this is one of the more affordable menstrual cups without having to sacrifice quality—its also made with medical grade silicone.
All of these alternatives require a little more cash upfront, but they literally pay for themselves within a few cycles, and will last for years.
How do I know which is right for me?
If you’ve always been a pad user, then period panties are the way to go. They’re familiar and wont mess with your current period routine. On the other hand, if you’ve always used tampons, then a menstrual cup is probably the best option. You can also use a combination of the two. The most important thing is to feel comfortable, and if you can do right by the environment at the same time, then its a win-win.
How the heck do I clean a period panty?
Thanks for reading!
If you have any questions or comments, you can post a comment below.
6 Minute Read You know that feeling —> You just got home and your Amazon package has arrived! You slice open the box with burning excitement to get your product, and you see a mass of plastic air pillows engulfing your itty-bitty product. We all love […]
5 Minute Read
What would you say if I told you that laundry could be done without detergent? You’d probably be skeptical…right?
(**Don’t worry, I’ll help you pick your jaw off the floor after reading this.**)
Last year, I went to the Green Expo in NY and came across this booth claiming you could do laundry without any detergent. At first, I thought it had to be a gimmick, but after hearing their in-depth description about pH levels and the materials that went into their product, I realized these guys were legit. SmartKlean is a laundry ball that you throw in the washing machine instead of detergent. It’s just as effective at cleaning clothes, but involves zero chemicals or fragrances. This means its safer for you, your kids, and the environment.
How does it work?
I’m going to use an analogy to explain this (so just stay with me here): Have you ever had Ceviche? It’s a Peruvian dish where raw fish is marinated in lime juice. The acidity from the citrus actually cooks the fish in the same way that heat would. This sort of flips the way we understand cooking because usually heat is required, but in reality, there are multiple ways to “cook” something outside of applying heat.
Here’s where I bring it back to the laundry ball. Traditional detergent cleans your clothes by changing the pH levels of the water. It shrinks the water particles, allowing them to pass through the fabric, taking the dirt and grime with them. This is a chemical process that’s been used for centuries, but its not the only way to change pH levels. It can also be done through a physical process, which is exactly how SmartKlean does it. Their laundry ball is filled with ceramic beads and magnets that modify the pH levels of water, thereby cleaning your clothes. Both methods effectively get the job done, but the laundry ball does it without any chemicals.
Illustration from the SmartKlean website showing how its laundry ball effectively cleans your clothes.
Previously, I used eco-friendly detergents, which are cleaner than Tide or other mainstream options, but those cleaner versions still have chemicals that runoff into our waterways and are packaged in plastic containers, so why not ditch the detergent altogether? I’ve been using the SmartKlean Ball for over a year and my clothes are as clean as ever. I have not bought any detergent since then, and I feel damn good about the fact that my laundry routine is completely chemical-free.
If I haven’t swayed you just yet, let’s talk about the cost-savings:
The SmartKlean Laundry Ball lasts for 365 washes. If you do 2 loads of laundry every week, it will last you 3.5 years. This is an enormous amount of savings compared to how much detergent you would buy in that time frame. And because there are no chemicals to wash out of your clothes, you can skip the “rinse cycle” (since that’s what its purpose is—to wash out the residue). This saves you water and energy, which translates to CASH MONAAYYY!!
Here is the Cliff Notes Version of why you should make the switch:
- Cheaper than detergent
- Saves Water and Energy
- Chemical Free
- Fragrance-Free (perfect for people with eczema and skin sensitivities)
- Zero chemical runoff into our waterways
- Made of Recyclable Materials
- Safe to use on children’s clothing
If you use dryer sheets to remove lint or soften your clothes, I have 2 more secret weapons for you:
Reusable Dryer Sheets:
I found these guys on Amazon. They do the work of 300 dryer sheets! You put them in your dryer, and your clothes come out super soft with no lint (fyi: single-use dryer sheets are made of non-recyclable polyester and are laden with chemicals).
In full disclosure, these reusable dryer sheets are not the perfect solution as they are still made out of synthetic fibers (here’s why that’s a problem), but its definitely the lesser of 2 evils. If people need dryer sheets, its better to choose reusables even if they are made out of synthetics because they last for 300 cycles, compared to disposables, which are made out of synthetics, doused in chemicals, used once and thrown away (bye-bye laundry, hello landfill!).
Wool Dryer Balls:
This is a more natural (less synthetic) alternative to the above, but if wool tends to make you itchy, they’re probably not the best option for you. Friendsheep Wool Balls are cruelty free, fair trade, ethically and sustainably made, and will last years (about 1000+ washes). They do a great job of removing lint from your clothes, speed up your drying time, and are pretty damn cute if you ask me.
Maybe one day, I’ll find a sustainable (non-wool) alternative to dryer sheets,
4 Minute Read The Average American goes through 656 bars of soap, 198 bottles of shampoo, and 156 toothbrushes in a lifetime (National Geographic). The way I see it, we have 2 clear options here….either stop being so damn clean 😉 or switch out […]
5 Minute Read Don’t worry, I was too…But after tons of research and almost a year of focusing on reducing my waste, I finally understand it. “At its most basic, zero waste is about significantly reducing, and eventually completely eliminating, the amount of stuff that we send […]
2 Minute Read
Over the past few weeks, I’ve shared different ideas about lowering your waste. Today, I’m going to make a pledge of my own: Starting January 1st, I will track every plastic bottle, bag, straw and utensil I use for the entire year.
My goal is to create an awareness about the plastic I use, and in turn, avoid it by having reusable alternatives on-hand. To keep myself accountable, I will have a tracker on the Mama Eco website that is updated regularly. Follow along! And maybe we can have a friendly competition and encourage each other along the way 🙂
Here are the essentials that will keep me in line:
(for hydration on-the-go)
(for grocery runs and unexpected purchases)
(for lunch at work and snack time)
FYI: these items barely add weight to my bag & they don’t take up much space either!
I honestly don’t know that I’ll ever be able to fit every piece of trash I create into a single mason jar. And even though there are some badass zero wasters out there who can, I’m not sure that’s realistic for me. Decreasing your waste is a gradual process, and I think it’s important to make your own goals.
So let’s shoot for progress not perfection. By simply tweaking the way we do things, I truly believe we can reduce our environmental impact on the planet.
4 Minute Read [Not so] Fun Fact: “In 2007, US consumers purchased more than 33 billion liters of bottled water …. The total energy required to produce [such a large amount] is equivalent to 32-54 million barrels of oil.” To break it down further, each bottle of water requires […]
3 Minute Read
Hey, when’s the last time you threw out your sponge?
**SPOILER ALERT: probably not recent enough**
A recent study published on Scientific reports proved that your kitchen sponge contains more bacteria than your toilet. And what do you do with that bacteria-infested sponge? You wipe it all over your kitchen counter and inside of your fridge, and you bathe your dishes in its dowries. With that said, scientists recommend that you throw out your sponge weekly, and you are supposed to sanitize it EVERYDAY. I ain’t got time for that shit….and you don’t either!
Most kitchen sponges are made of cellulose (natural fibres). However, the scrubby part is typically made of polyester or nylon. These materials are neither recyclable nor biodegradable and are made from nonrenewables such as oil and gas. Nuff said. Those sponges have a huge carbon footprint, and will sit in your landfill for centuries. Instead of contributing 52 sponges to your landfill every year, or bathing your sponge in intoxicating amounts bleach, how can you keep your kitchen clean without adding to landfills or using toxic chemicals?
So what are some eco-friendly alternatives to sponges?
Made out of natural and renewable fibers • Biodegradable/compostable • Lasts 9-12 months
Does the work of 17 paper towels • Air dries quicker than a sponge (reducing bacteria)
Can be washed in the dishwasher or washing machine up to 200 times!
Gets rids of any baked on food residue • Packaged in a paper box
Can be recycled once its lived a life full of pot-scrubbin
Linen Dish Rags
(or make your own from old clothes)
Machine washable • Replaces paper towels & sponges • Long Lasting
Great for cleaning water bottles with a narrow neck • Ethically made
Made of sustainably harvested beechwood, metal and natural fibres • Plastic Free
Great for cleaning fruits and veggies • Ethically made
Made of sustainably harvested beechwood and natural fibres • Plastic Free
MYTH BUSTERS (sponge edition): I heard that microwaving your sponge gets rid of the bacteria. Couldn’t I do that instead?
BUSTED: Microwaving your sponge only eliminates the weak bacteria, leaving lots of real estate for the silverback gorilla of bacteria to spread its legs and procreate. **good luck trying to get rid of that visual**