How to Have a Zero Waste Period (and Save Money!)

Women are spending a ton of money on disposable products for their periods. But it doesn’t have to be this way! These days, it’ so easy to have a zero waste period with just a two simple switches. These both can help you not only reduce the waste you produce but help save you money in the process!

The average woman spends over $2000 (low end estimate) in her lifetime on products for her period. Now this can go up to even $6,000! When you account for midol, new underwear (replaced due to stains), and even chocolate (raises hand!). Check out this interesting article for more of a cost breakdown of everything. Now that I have your attention, lets talk about the waste for all of these products. I’m going to leave out the midol, and chocolate and lets just focus on tampons and pads.

Waste Created

+Average pads used over a lifetime: over 9,000

+Average tampons used over a lifetime: 0ver 2,000

That is a TON of trash produced! Now we can’t go back in time and fix the trash we have already produced. Instead, I want to share with you my go to products that allow me to have a zero waste, money saving, less stressful period!

The menstrual cup:

The Diva cup was my first introduction into zero waste living. I had always hated tampons and pads, but I did what I had to do during that time of the month. Wow this is giving me flash backs to my early years of trying to use an applicator less tampon. This is what my mom used, and hey at least it had less plastic!  At my 12th birthday pool party and it just did not work out so I didn’t even get to swim at my own pool birthday party!

Okay, flashback over and I’m now 21 (in 2012) and just started a new job at a health food store. For those on the east coast, Mom’s Organic Market. At the start of this job I worked in the wellness department so I was given a Diva cup for free, and I had no idea it would be SO life changing. For those that may not know the Diva cup is just a particular brand of menstrual cup. A menstrual cup collects the blood from your cycle instead of absorbing it like a tampon. You can wear the menstrual cup (typically made of medical grade silicone) for up to 12 hours. It is non drying, and you can hardly feel it!

New to the cup?

For those that haven’t tied one yet there are a ton on the market and they are not all created equal so you may have to try few out to find the right one. The diva cup works great for me and I have also tried the Lunette up and hated it, it was so uncomfortable for me! So if you try a particular brand and hate it as well don’t be discouraged there are others out there!

The first month using it was not so great I will say. It took a few days to get used to it, making sure it was suction into place properly, removal, cleaning all of that was weird, new and nothing I had ever done before. After that I could honestly not ever go back to using tampons. I remember always feeling somewhat woozy when I had my cycle and thought it was normal but that completely went away when I switched to a menstrual cup.

How to use them:

Typically you just fold the end flat and fold in half to insert, then let it open up once inserted and give it a little tug to help it suction in place. Once I stand up and move around I can feel in suction in place.  Yes it feels kind of weird but also in a, yay it worked way! There has been a few times that it did not suction properly so just take it out and try again!


Personally, I only need to wear mine for 3-4 days. To clean it out (I just use warm water) in the morning after I wake up. Then 12 hours after that, so if I woke up at 8am I will remove it at 8pm wash it, reinsert it and thats it! The cup I use is one that I have had for over 6 years and have had no issues at all. Once a month, I do a deep clean and let it soak in very hot water, then just let it air dry. Do not stick in dish washer, ha!

how to shop for a cup

A few things to keep in mind when shopping for a cup. They typically come in a few sizes: pre birth (no children) and post birth. So make sure you read which one your getting since making sure they suction in place!

Different cup options with links:

The Diva cup: price $23-$26

Lunette cup: $29-$32 

Pixie cup: $16 (most affordable)

Lena cup: $39

There are quite a few more out there including one from Tampax, so they are seeing the value in having these on the market too, yay times are changing! These are the top 4 most popular ones on the market and I’m sure you could find the right one for you. These are all linked to amazon so dig into those user comments and feedback to see what others are saying so you can feel comfortable with your purchase!

Not only have I saved money over the last 6 years of using a menstrual cup but I never have to panic that I ran out of tampons!

Period underwear – THINX

Now lets talk about period underwear, if a menstrual cup is too much for you there is still a great alternative that can help you save $$$ and preventing unwanted trash. THINX makes an amazing line of period underwear that can fit the needs of your particular cycle, plus they are cute too! They work just like a pad but instead, its a pair of underwear. No more pads falling out of place! Depending on your flow you can get a pair that will hold the equivalent to two tampons worth! I personally like to wear mine along with the Diva cup for added coverage and then switch to wearing only THINX on my lighter days.

Do they feel wet?

Not at all! They fell nothing like a pad and they look and fell just like underwear but are amazing and super absorbing! Where was this for the early days of my cycle?!

How do I wash them?

If this sounds like something you are interested in trying my readers get $10 off their first order with my link no need for a code since your discount will automatically be applied when you click over to my bio page!

For washing simply rinse them out in the sink after use and let them air dry overnight before tossing them in your laundry. I was them on cold with my darks and NEVER EVER put them in the dryer! This will ruin their absorbing fabric and will no longer work. I wear mine the same about of time as I do my Diva cup, I will was the first two days worth and wear those again at the end of my cycle after they have dried.

Note: If you plan on only using THINX for your cycle you will need to get a larger amount of underwear since you will need to change them more frequently. They also have a ton of recourses on their website that can help you confidently make the switch!


THINX can range in prince starting at $24 for their thong and go up to $39 for their “heavier flow” pairs. I would suggest trying out 3 pairs at first so this would be an initial investment of about $100. With regular wear and when you take care of them, each pair will last about two years. I honestly don’t remember the cost of tampons so I had to look it up and you will end up saving a good amount of money over this time. The huge selling point for me personally was being able to reduce the amount of single use items I’m using and throwing away.

Click to Save $10 of a pair of THINX!

Interested in finding more ways to save money by going zero waste? Check out my post 10 zero waste habits that save you money

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