How to Have a Waste-Free Period

The environmental impact of a woman’s period can be huge. One study estimates that a woman can generate 250 to 300 pounds of waste over their lifetime on menstrual products like pads, tampons and tampon applicators. In my quest to reduce waste, I switched from using tampons to a menstrual cup, which I still use and love to this day. But because I experience leaks while using it, I always used a pantyliner as a backup. That got me to thinking about other zero-waste menstrual products and lead me to the discovery of leakproof underwear and reusable menstrual pads. Here are ways to have a waste-free period: 

  • Price: $26 CAD each or 3/$60 CAD 
  • Claim: Absorbs up to 3 tsp of fluid (15ml)
  • Pros: Canadian company (i.e. charges in CAD, no surprise duties… and yay because they are Canadian!)
  • Cons: All underwear is final sale. Underwear is mainly synthetic material.

Knix is a Canadian company that produces leakproof underwear. Full disclosure – this is the first and only leakproof underwear that I have used because they are just THAT good. They feel like regular seamless underwear but can absorb up to 3 tsp of fluid.  I wash them by hand after each use with some gentle soap and hang them to dry. They dry so quickly that I can easily rotate between two pairs during my entire cycle. While they are not cheap,  I can honestly say that this is one of my best purchases ever to have a waste-free period.

The gusset (i.e. the crotch panel) is black and extremely thin, about the thickness of a thin pantyliner. Some people have mentioned that the gusset is too small which I agree with although in all honesty, it gets the job done and that is all that matters right?

They come in a variety of cuts, including bikini (which is what I prefer), boyshort or high-rise. They also now have The Dream Short which is great for heavier days and could double as shorts to wear underneath a short skirt for more coverage. 

  • Price: Starting at $40 CAD for the Cheeky to $52 CAD for Boyshorts. Available in sets.
  • Claim: Absorbs anywhere from 1 regular tampon or 5ml (Cheeky) to two regular tampons or 10ml (Boyshorts)
  • Benefits: Available in different fabrics and different styles to fit a variety of absorption needs, free returns
  • Cons: American company so they charge in USD which means higher shipping cost plus duties.

Like Knix, Thinx is known for their leakproof underwear. One of the main reasons I didn’t go with Thinx was because they charge in USD but also they are much more expensive per panty compared to Knix. Many reviews mention that the gusset is much larger on Thinx compared to Knix which would be great for overnight. However, 2 regular tampons hold less than 3 tsp of fluid so technically Knix wins out in this case. 

They do, however, have an organic cotton variety and a superlight Air variety which is a great option for those who prefer a more breathable option.

  • Price: Starting at $11.99 CAD for the pantiliner, $14.99 CAD for the mini-pad with insert to $41.99 CAD for the boxer brief. Available in sets.
  • Claim: Absorbs anywhere from a pantyliner’s worth of fluid to 2 tampon’s worth of fluid.
  • Benefits: 100% organic cotton varieties, number of options to fit a wide range of needs. Most inexpensive option. Company supports One4Her to support women’s menstrual health in Uganda. Plus, they are Canadian!
  • Cons: None. Although I have not tried these myself some say that the pads may slip around as the “wings” are held by a snap button.

On paper, this was exactly what I wanted. A pad that I could wash and reuse instead of relying on single-use panty liners. Lunapads come in different sizes similar to disposable pads and they also offer leakproof underwear. Lunapads come in three main varieties:

  • Classic – 100% cotton pad (with wings) and an insert that provides the absorbency. There is no leakproof layer so the inner pad needs to be changed before it soaks through. Good for those who want a natural, breathable option.
  • Performa – an all-in-one washable pad with a cotton top and leakproof polyester layer. 
  • Period Underwear – 100% cotton underwear than can absorb 1 tampon’s worth of fluid but this can be increased by adding a removable insert which can add another 1 tampon’s worth of absorbency.

Ultimately, I didn’t go for Lunapads because of the absorption level was not as high as the Knix underwear. However, I feel like Lunapads are a great option for those who prefer a purely cotton option or those who want a more inexpensive option for a waste-free period.

I highly recommend Knix based on my personal experience but the other two companies are also great options for those looking for either better coverage or undies with a more breathable composition.

Are there any other companies or product you use to have a waste-free period?

TL/dr – use reusable menstrual products such as leakproof underwear or reusable pads whenever possible to  cut down the waste that is generated each month!

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