Make your period more sustainable with reusable sanitary products

As part of sustainability week, Union of Kingston Students held a stall in the reception at Penrhyn Road on Tuesday providing students with free reusable sanitary products.

The goal was to spread awareness when it comes to more sustainable versions of sanitary products for people who menstruate, as well as giving people a chance to try the products before making the switch.

“The reusable products are more expensive, so why would you pay for something you might not like,” environmental science student Zoe Racette, 21, said.

Racette and environmental science student Greg Webber, 21, are both sustainability advisers for the Students Union, and worked with a team from the Union to set up the stall.

reusable sanitary pad and menstrual cup
They were handing out free menstrual cups and reusable sanitary pads. Photo: Malin Lervaag

They also wanted to shine a light on period poverty and were handing out free mentrual cups and reusable sanitary pads, which were provided by the Union.

“Due to period poverty, sanitary products can be quite expensive so it’s unfair on people who can’t afford them,” Webber said.

People who menstruate spend up to £18,450 on their period during a lifetime, according to Women’s Environmental Network (WEN).

Period products are also wasteful and WEN estimate people who menstruate throw away over 11,000 disposable period products in their life.

“The [sustainable] products are free, we want to provide an option,”Racette said. “The disposable products are a huge waste, I think it’s just about providing options.”

If you are unsure what’s involved, here is a guide on how to use a menstrual cup and reusable sanitary pads.

pink menstrual cup
A menstrual cup is a more sustainable option when it comes to period products. Photo: Malin Lervaag

How to use a menstrual cup:

  1. Start by boiling the cup to clean it.
  2. Fold the cup like shown in the picture below.
  3. Insert the cup like a tampon without an aplicator.
  4. Once it is inside, rotate the cup to unfold it. If the cup has unfolded like it should, a vacuum is created which will keep it from leaking, as well as keeping it free from bacteria.
  5. Remove the cup by pulling the stem while pushing the cup with one finger. This removes the vacuum, and then you can pull the cup out.
  6. Empty the cup in the toilet, wash it and insert it again.
  7. At the end of your period, boil the cup to sterilize it and put it in the storage bag until your next period.
A folded menstrual cup
Fold the menstrual cup before you insert it. Photo: Malin Lervaag

*There are many different ways to fold the cup when inserting it. Look up tutorials on YouTube and find the way that works best for you.

How to use a reusable sanitary pad:

  1. Place the pad like you would a disposable sanitary pad. The pad is absorbent and waterproof and will prevent leaking.
  2. After use, rinse the pad in cold water immediately to prevent staining.
  3. Place in waterproof bag and wash at 40 degrees within 48 hours. Do not use fabric softener as this will compromise the absorbability of the pad.
Reusable sanitary pad
A reusable sanitary pad can be reused up to 150 times. Photo: Malin Lervaag
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