Putting a Period to Plastic

I want to begin by saying: there will be no pictures in this blog post.

Lent was basically over before I could get to try another way to keep plastic out of our landfills: period panties.

Yup. For your menstrual cycle. A while back I tried going to cloth pads but even though they "snapped" into place, by the time I'd walked somewhere, the pad was upside down. (Everybody say "ew!") Maybe they would have worked for me if my thighs didn't rub together, but they were not for me.

But once you've opened your menstrual pad and disposed of the plastic packaging, the plastic tape cover, and then you eventually reach the foam and plastic thing that is a pad. Oh and the adhesive is plastic too. And do that at least twice a day... ladies, that is a LOT of landfill. In fact, they're 90% plastic (which makes me wonder what the other 10% is).

As it happened, one of my coworkers talked about getting period panties. I wanted to know more. Like, yesterday.

Now they do not get an A+ in the world of zero-plastic, because they're mostly made of polyester, which is plastic. (They do have organic cotton briefs, but the inner layers of the panty lining are still some sort of polyester-fabricky-secret-thing.)

I am now three cycles through and here's what I can report. They are great to wear to bed. I am betting my flow is too heavy for them on my first two days -- they're supposed to hold a tampon and a half, however much that is and I'm just -- no. Ok, so I am not brave enough to wear them to work on a heavy day.

I wear them at night (even during the heaviest part of the day) and I wear them after the first two days of my period. They do the job. You rinse them and then do a delicates wash and then hang to dry. But let's talk about comfort.

The company I went with is called THINX. (There is at least one other company that sells these kind of things.) They have a gorgeous plus size model wearing their hip-hugger range, which also happens to come in a color I love. Per the size guide, I was barely going to make it onto the chart. Neither the size that the guide said I should wear, nor the sized down one, stay up. So the hiphuggers have become my wearing to bed style. I mean, walking down the hall and finding your undies around your thighs is no way to live.

The organic cotton briefs fit better (which I got, because they're a natural fibre) but the elastic waistband does tend to flip down when I bend over.

The big large granny panties in black (Hi-Waist) fit well, but I also found that when I wore a loose pair of jeans, they didn't resist gravity and required adjusting. The styles for lighter flow days? Aren't made for my body.

Styles aside ... they feel much better than a pad ever did. No bunching, no rash, no leaks.

The panties are expensive, although you get a discount if you get a set. And here's the other thing -- if you take good care of them, they last about two years. (Although it wasn't clear if they stop working as period panties at that point or that's the usual life of a pair of underwear. Who knew.) But that is still better than the 14 pads a month I'd use and then throw out.

It's not a perfect solution (that would be one that didn't have polyester and lasted longer) but it has greatly reduced the disposable menstrual pads and if I had enough panties to make it through a cycle, I would.

In short, if the menstrual cup isn't for you, or cloth pads, try a pair of period panties. That is, if Auntie Flo still comes to visit!


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