The Period Panacea.
By Índio AB.
When it comes to dealing with periods sustainably, there are three options. Menstrual cups, menstrual pads and period underwear/panties.
Each product comes with their own respective benefits. Menstrual cups can be used hundreds of times before being replaced, while period pads provide an incredible amount of absorbency.
But sometimes, you’re looking for that comfortable, flexible feel, while still using something reusable, robust, and that has a good lifespan. This brings us to our topic of the day: Period underwear.
The body is a shrine. Mind and body health are intertwined and must be maintained with good food, exercise and rest. So it makes sense that this personal upkeep includes making the right choice with what you wear and use each day. You don’t go around wearing clothes made from toxic, itchy fabrics - you instead wear what’s comfortable and safe. It makes sense that the sanitary products you use should not be any different.
Regular tampons and pads can be irritating to the skin, often containing plastic and bleached cotton fibres - and the low quality, single-use designs can provide ample conditions for bacteria and fungi to grow. As noted by Anuradha Kapur from the Institute of Obs and Gynae, “There are high chances of getting fungal infections due to a collection of moisture. Plastic-based sanitary pads might also lead to pelvic infection…” Along with this, and while rare, high-absorbency tampons can cause toxic shock, due to causing small, easily-infected abrasions when used.
On the contrary, period underwear is designed with comfort in mind. It looks and feels like regular undies, but has multiple layers of absorbency and a wider fit, allowing the user to bleed freely without worry. Once used, it can be washed, dried, and used again.
But don’t be fooled - regardless of the product, the material still matters. Other brands of period panties contain traces of PFAS, a chemical which can be found in pesticides and nail polish!
As we see time and time again, the natural choice is always better. Here at Mint, we make our period underwear (and pads) using bamboo fibres, which is leagues ahead of other fabrics in practicality, sustainability and feel.
Bamboo fabric is naturally antibacterial, hypoallergenic and more absorbent than cotton. As a self-sustaining, fast growing plant, it doesn’t require fertilizers or pesticides. This means that there’s less polluting chemicals being dispersed in the air, water and in what you wear.
Bamboo fabric is washable, perfectly biodegradable, and feels delightfully soft to the touch. This is perfect for comfortable daily use, and for a good night’s rest, worry-free.
Lastly, it should be noted that period poverty is a very real issue, even in higher income countries. Here in New Zealand, 8% of girls have reported missing out on school due to a lack of period products. The wasteful, single-use market leaves them little option aside from spending hundreds of dollars each year. The reusable choice directly tackles this problem.
One pair of period underwear can go a long way: Simply use, wash, and repeat. The best way to think of it is as an investment, saving 80 single-use menstrual products from purchase and subsequent waste. What’s not to love?
It’s comfortable. Cost effective. Good for the planet, and good for you.
Period underwear is yet another fighter in the revolution taking place on the supermarket shelves. A movement towards tackling period poverty and plastic waste, one reusable pair at a time.
- Kale, S. (2021). The rise of period pants: Are they the answer to menstrual landfill – and women’s prayers? The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/sep/01/the-rise-of-period-pants-are-they-the-answer-to-menstrual-landfill-and-womens-prayers.
- Richardson, J. (2021). I Tried Period Underwear, and Here's What Happened: Everyday Health. Retrieved from https://www.everydayhealth.com/columns/smart-health/i-tried-period-underwear-and-heres-what-happened/
- Giordano, M. (2021). Period Underwear Changed My Life-and I'm Never Going Back. Wired. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/story/rave-period-underwear/
- Giordano, M. (2021). Period Underwear Changed My Life-and I'm Never Going Back. Insider. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/story/rave-period-underwear/
- Toxic shock syndrome (TSS). (2014). Better Health. Retrieved from https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/toxic-shock-syndrome-tss
- Hunter Lecturer in Global Health, E., & Hennegan Senior Research Fellow, J. (2021). Supporting menstrual health in Australia means more than just throwing pads at the problem. The Conversation. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/supporting-menstrual-health-in-australia-means-more-than-just-throwing-pads-at-the-problem-161194
- Plastic based sanitary pads are not only harmful to the environment but also your body. (2018). Hindustan Times. Retrieved from https://www.hindustantimes.com/fitness/plastic-based-sanitary-pads-are-not-only-harmful-to-the-environment-but-also-your-body/story-Kk4wrI6QOyJCkP7bwEh0rI.html
- Choy, J. (2021). New Independent Study Confirms PFAS in Thinx, Other Products. Sierra Club. Retrieved from https://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/ask-ms-green/new-independent-study-confirms-pfas-thinx-other-products