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A guide to the Australian brands making periods sustainable

Words by Helena Bammant

Menstrual cups, period underwear and reusable pads explained.

Having access to sanitary items is a privilege many people take for granted. But for those of us with easy access to period products, there is a growing awareness about the importance of making sustainable choices when it comes to our menstrual cycles.

The average person uses between 10,000 and 15,000 pads and tampons over the years they menstruate, and neither the product or packaging can be recycled. All of this waste, as you would expect, ends up in landfill.

There was a point where disposable tampons and pads were the only options provided to period-havers, but now there are countless Australian-made options available, it’s the ideal time to try an ecofriendly alternative.

Saying goodbye to disposable products will save you time and money, while also helping the environment. Here is a breakdown of the best Australian brands making sanitary items sustainable, where you can buy them and how they work.

Period underwear

Period underwear is designed to function like normal underwear, but with the ability to absorb menstrual flow. While the exact design varies between brands, period undies generally have a moisture-wicking top layer, over one or more absorbent layers in the insert, and a leak-resistant final layer. They are washable and reusable and are designed to replace pads and tampons, or be worn with tampons and cups for extra protection. Basically, they look and feel just like your regular undies.

Modibodi

Modibodi has created period-proof undies and an activewear line using high-quality tech-savvy fabrics that absorb a moderate to medium flow, as well as minor bladder leaks or heavy discharge. Beach holiday? Have no fear! Modibodi is here with a leak-proof swimwear range. All your bases are (literally) covered.

Browse the full range here.

Thinx

Made with signature four-layer technology, Thinx period undies are moisture-wicking, odour fighting, super absorbent, and leak-resistant. Available in all your favourite styles including boyshorts, cheeky, hip-hugger, thongs and a sports range, there’s a pair for all of your day-day duties.

Find them all here.

Bonds

It makes sense that Bonds, perhaps Australia’s most beloved underwear brand, would make a foray into period underwear. The recently debuted Bloody Comfy Period Undies are available in the brand’s most popular styles – Tanga, Gee, Boyleg, Full Brief and Bikini. The undies are washable, have layers of leak-proof protection and are available in size 6-20.

Shop the range here.

Menstrual cups

Made of either latex or silicone, the menstrual cup is a little funnel-shaped container with a tail on the end (similar to a tampon string). It’s inserted into the vagina to collect menstrual blood. Unlike a tampon, they can be worn for up to eight hours and don’t interfere with the vagina’s natural moisture. At a push, they can be worn for up to 12 hours without the risk of toxic shock syndrome. The cups can be firm, medium or soft. Larger cups are usually a bit firmer than the smaller ones and can be used for up to 10 years (ensuring you’ve cared for it properly). There are also usually two sizes – one for women who are under 30 and have not given birth vaginally, and one for women who are 30 and over or who have given birth vaginally. The length is dependent on your cervix position.

Moxie

Old-time favourite sanitary brand Moxie has created a purse-worthy menstrual cup with a handy carry pod. Its regular cup holds approximately two and a half tampons worth of fluid and is also available in a super-size for a heavier flow. Each packet comes with a fold-out instruction booklet showing you how to use and care for your cup, giving you period peace of mind.

Find all your favourite Moxie products here.

Intimina

For all those times you’re feeling frisky when Aunty Flow is in town, Intimina have you covered with the first and only reusable menstrual cup that can be used during sex! Its shape is wider and flatter and pushed further towards your cervix so no activity (or position) will get in the way. It can also be used for day-to-day wear, but due to its shape, most people prefer Intima’s Lily Cup as it’s easier to insert and retrieve.

Shop the full range here.

The Hello Cup

The Hello Cup is a menstrual cup available in inclusive sizing from extra small to large and it’s made from the highest quality medical-grade TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) available. It’s also hypoallergenic and recyclable, contains no nasties and is free of silicone, rubber, latex, BPAs and heavy metals.

Shop the range here.

Reusable pads

When I say reusable pads, I imagine you’re thinking of bulky, cloth pads that look similar to nappies, but they’ve come a long way over the last few years. Reusable pads are fun and flexible pieces of cotton that are made with wings that snap around the underwear to keep the sides of them dry. They tend to breathe better than disposables because they aren’t made of plastic (they’re also a lot more comfortable too).

You can change them as you would a normal pad – once you start wearing them you’ll have a good idea of how frequently you need to change. They can be washed in the washing machine on a cold cycle but avoid scented detergents or fabric softeners as they may upset your coochie. Hand washing is also an option, but you may want to pre-soak them. I’m sure you’re wondering – don’t they get stained and do they smell? Well, the good news is, due to their fabric, which allows excess moisture to evaporate, cloth pads tend to stay fresher than disposable. When it comes to stains, the presence of them on your reusable pad doesn’t mean it’s not properly clean, but if you’re worried, pads that have patterns or darker colours will naturally hide stains better.

Hannahpad

Available in a range of cute prints and colours, Australian label Hannahpad is made from certified organic cotton that is free from chemicals like bleach, dioxin, fragrances and formaldehyde. Perfect for overnight use, the unbleached and undyed fabric is kind on the skin and has an outer layer of waterproof coating to prevent leaks.

Shop the range of pads here. They also sell menstrual cups too!

Ecopads

Ecopads Australia is a social enterprise supporting women’s and girls’ education and empowerment, as well as environmental projects. For each cloth pad purchase, a pad is given to a woman in need. They also work with crowdfunding partners to distribute sanitary products to girls in India. Made from two layers of hemp/cotton fleece, they are also adjustable for the perfect fit.

Shop the range of pads here.

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