Simplify Your Family's Emergency Preparedness

The Best Options for Sustainable Period Care

sustainable, reusable period care options laid out on a table.

**This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

When it comes to preparedness, feminine hygiene might not be at the top of your list of items to collect. But trust me, if there’s a female living in your house it really needs to be. That being said, these items can take up a lot of space – especially when you’re trying to stockpile for longer time periods. This post is a roundup of the best options for sustainable period care products currently on the market and why it’s a good choice for your non-food storage essentials.

Fun facts about period products you might not know

Okay, maybe they’re not necessarily fun facts, since no one I know is actually thrilled to have a regular period. But these numbers will help put some things in perspective as you consider them in relation to your emergency preparedness.


According to a study from the Harvard Business School:

  1. The average menstruating female discards around 11,000 tampons in a lifetime.
  2. Discarded tampons create approximately 331 pounds of waste, per person.
  3. In the United States, an estimated 12 billion pads and 7 billion tampons end up in landfills each year.

I don’t know about you, but those stats are a little mind-blowing! Can you imagine trying to store thousands of tampons? I know reusable, sustainable period products might not sound appealing to a lot of women, but they certainly make sense, not only from an ecological standpoint, but also from a preparedness point of view.

Sustainable Period Care Options

The three most common and well-known options for sustainable period care are:

  1. Washable Period Underwear
  2. Washable Pads and Liners
  3. Menstrual Cups

However, these are not the only available options. Keep reading and I’ll share the options I’m aware of and a little bit about each product, plus some suggestions for good companies to purchase from.


Period Panties

These are essentially just like any other pair of underwear, but they have an absorbent inner panel. You can find them in a variety of styles, sizes, and absorbencies. A lot of teens really like these for ease of use and they feel protected in case of a surprise period start date.


Washable Pads/Liners

So many options here; there are even a lot of Etsy sellers who make these. Most of them are shaped to fit neatly inside your underwear and have wings that wrap around, very similar to a disposable pad or liner. I’ve even heard of youth groups who make hundreds of these and send them to third world countries who don’t have access to feminine hygiene products. Pretty cool.

*One care tip that applies to any of the washable period care products is to NOT use fabric softener. It can cause a breakdown in the absorbency of the fabric.


Menstrual Cups

Ready for your mind to be officially blown? ONE menstrual cup can last up to 10 years! This is probably the most sustainable option for period care. Menstrual cups come in all different shapes and sizes, but this is an internal product. It’s meant to sit low in the vaginal canal. So if you’re not comfortable with having to insert something yourself (a lot of teens aren’t), you might want to steer toward the panties or liners.

Depending on the size, menstrual cups can provide up to 12 hours of protection. That’s a really great perk! They can typically hold up to 26 ml of blood.


Menstrual Disc

These sit higher than a cup (think closer to your cervix). It is flatter in shape and can hold up to 55 ml of blood. A disc can also be worn up to 12 hours.  

One caveat with the disc is that some are actually disposable. But because of the length of wear and the size, they make the list as a more sustainable period care product than traditional pads or tampons.


Reusable Tampon Applicators

While these don’t create a completely sustainable product, they do help eliminate some waste and save some space since the cotton inserts can be smushed more than a plastic applicator can. Again, not completely sustainable, but better than storing thousands of plastic tampons.

quote about Saalt period underwear on grey background.


My sister-in-law has more experience with sustainable period care than I do, so I asked her to do a quick write-up of her honest experience with them. This is what she had to say:

I am not sure at what point I switched over from disposable period care products, so unfortunately I don’t have a good estimation of how much money I have saved since then. But there are a ton of other benefits beyond what is quantifiable.  And some I didn’t even expect. 

Benefits of a Cup/Disc

  • I feel better using a menstrual cup or disc.  I would not have put myself in the category of women that have especially painful periods, so I was surprised when I noticed that I had less cramps, pressure, and general discomfort while using a period cup or disc. My hypothesis is that toxic chemicals in the tampons were actually contributing to (or even causing) the symptoms that I assumed were just normal during my cycle.  
  • I don’t have to monitor and restock a supply of tampons and pads. It’s one less “to do” swirling around in my head.
  • A cup/disc takes up hardly any room in my bathroom cabinet, and zero space in my bathroom garbage.

Benefits of Period Underwear

The period underwear actually work, are super comfortable, and are NOT hideous! There are a variety of styles, colors, and types of fabric. I wish they would have been around when I was a teenager!

  • Since I use the period underwear the same way I would a panty liner or a pad (typically in conjunction with the cup or disc) on my heaviest days, I get that extra layer of protection, and never have to worry about leakage. 
  • The biggest benefit of the period underwear is when you are anticipating your period starting. Then you don’t ruin a regular pair or have to frantically run to the bathroom when you feel it start. 
  • I also like to sleep in them because that’s the longest stretch of not emptying the cup/disc. Even though the extra layer of protection is rarely needed, it’s nice to know it’s there.  

Cup vs. Disc

Cup vs disc? I have both. And although I prefer the disc, I didn’t throw my cup away. It’s convenient to have more than one (even if they’re the same), in the event that you are somewhere out of the house and it’s not easy to rinse, wash and reuse.  You can just toss the used one in a little wet bag and slip it into your purse until you’re home.

I started with a cup, and then when my favorite company, Saalt, released a disc, I gave it a try.  
I personally prefer the disc, for 3 reasons:

  • It sits higher in your cervix, so you literally can’t feel it.
  • It’s a little easier to remove (and Saalt has fantastic customer service, including instant instructions for removal help).
  • You can have sex during your period, and there is literally no mess. None. It’s pretty amazing. This isn’t possible with the cup, since it sits lower than the disc.

Advice from an Experienced Veteran

Now that I’ve had years of practice, my advice to my own daughter or best friend who I’ve convinced to try one would be: breathe, don’t panic- that just tightens everything up! And change positions- stand up, sit down, squat, etc.


I love supporting Saalt because they are located in Boise, Idaho and I am impressed with their commitment to providing sustainable period care and education to women in underprivileged areas. Another HUGE pro in my book, is if you’re not happy with your Saalt product, they’ll send you a replacement you’ll love or your MONEY BACK UP TO A FULL YEAR from purchase!! You can check out Saalt’s website here (affiliate link).


Isn’t she the best? I love how real she is, and how she laid out the pros and cons for us. This can be a tough topic to talk about, so I’m glad for her honesty!!

menstrual cup laying on a bed.


  • No more having to guess the right number you will need based on how long your period lasts, or how heavy it will be

  • Save precious space in your suitcase, carry-on, 72-hour kit, etc. 

  • Tampons and pads are BULKY, so storing a year’s supply (or anything close to that) is a challenge. Not with these!

  • Environmentally friendly

  • Non-toxic

  • Budget-friendly (you could even use the money you save to add something to your preparedness every month!)
  • A period cup/disc can handle more volume than a traditional pad or tampon, which allows for more time in between changing (this comes in handy on a daily basis, as well as in an evacuation situation whether you’re stuck in traffic, or sharing a public restroom with hundreds of other displaced people)

Other things to consider when it comes to periods and preparedness

If you’re looking to create a period care kit to-go, then you might want to check out this post.

Not only would this come in handy for your 72-hour kits, but it’s also a great idea for teens who want to be prepared when they’re away from home, but also don’t want to advertise it.

For a list of other non-food storage essentials, you’ll want to be sure and read this post so you can make sure you’re not caught without something super important (ahem, toilet paper anyone?).

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