Using reusable menstrual products instead of conventional disposable pads, pantyliners and tampons is beneficial for your health and the health of the planet. As with so many transitions from disposable to sustainable products, though, people are often concerned as to whether the reusable fix, which often costs more at the outset, are ultimately cost effective.
“Lots of women are interested in reducing waste, but also I think a bigger part of it is cost,” said Laura Martson, owner of GoGo Refill in Portland, who sells menstrual cups and reusable organic cotton pantyliners in her store. “It’s always part of the conversation.”
When it comes to reusable period products, they certainly have an upfront cost, but given the regularity of the products’ use, they pay themselves off over time. The amount of time that it takes, however, will ultimately depend on the type of menstrual care that you choose.
Take menstrual cups, for example. Jezebel calculated that women spend about $120 a year on disposable pads and tampons in the United States. By comparison, Martson said that a reusable menstrual cup, which lasts for years with proper care, costs between $40 and $45. Most customers, she said, will buy two and switch between them over the course of a cycle. Even if you bought three menstrual cups to rotate between, the switch from disposable pads and tampons to this reusable product will pay itself off within the year.
Some menstrual products cost even less than that. In general, menstrual cups are also slightly more cost effective than other reusable menstrual products.
That doesn’t mean that you are limited to using menstrual cups if you are looking for cost effective reusable period care. Amy Martel, owner of Twist Organic, a reusable cotton pantyliner company based in Portland, said that the upfront cost can be prohibitive for some people, but over time, it will pay off.
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“That’s the only issue I think is the cost of transitioning to this type of product,” Martel said. “If you were to buy four sets of [Twist Organic reusable cotton pads], that would give you eight, [for] less than $100. It would take a couple of years but it would pay for themselves.”
You could even go the DIY route when it comes to reusable cotton pads.
“Certain people can make their own pads effectively but it’s cost in time and knowledge,” Sara Goodrich, owner of Renew You! Massage and Yoga in Lewiston who also sells Party in My Pants cloth menstrual pads. “You can get basically a Gortex-type fabric, put something cotton layer absorbent and you have a pad.”
Still, Goodrich said that it doesn’t cost that much to purchase reusable pads if you do not have the sewing skills.
“I think maybe 10 to 15 pads at about $10 to $15 a pad and you basically have your whole period’s worth of pads,” Goodrich said. “You might have an initial investment of $150 but then you don’t have to buy pads for years.”
As long as you care for your reusable menstrual products, ultimately they will offer cost savings. Martson said that opting for reusable menstrual products is a great choice for your body and for the planet.
“This is a broader trend of switching to reusables,” Martson said. “Something as personal as period care products that are in and around your body for so much of your life, I totally commend people who want to go with reusables for that.”