Sustainability is the buzz word of 2021 as more consumers become aware of the need to be more self-sufficient and not rely on disposable items. This trend is extending to the entire consumer market and reusable period products are experiencing exponential growth.

In Australia and New Zealand, there are around six million menstruators. Every year, there will be approximately 30,000 new menstruators who are looking for products to help them manage their period.

The vast majority (90%) of conventional pads are made of plastic including the backing, adhesive strips and packaging, so in landfill that takes 300 to 500 years to decompose, if ever. On average, a menstruator will use 16-22 conventional sanitary pads or tampons per period cycle.

There are a range of reusable period products including menstrual cups made from 100% medical grade silicone that can be worn for hours and lasts for years; period underwear with an absorbent and leak-proof gusset and can be washed with the rest of the household laundry, and reusable cloth pads that are thin and feature a waterproof PUL backing.

There are four key reasons people are making the switch to reusable period products.

  1. Environmental: Reusable products greatly reduce the amount of period rubbish going to landfill. Teaching about sustainability is now a part of the New Zealand curriculum and can be applied across all subject areas.
  2. Savings: An investment of $50 in a menstrual cup or $200 worth of period underwear is worthwhile as opposed to approximately $1,000 over five years for disposable product. 
  3. Health: Conventional sanitary pads and tampons contain chemicals, dioxins and bleaches, which can leach into the body or cause reactions and chemical burns to the skin. Menstrual cups made from medical silicone do not leach chemicals into the system or absorb any of the body’s natural lubrication. Period underwear and reusable pads are usually made from organic cotton, the top layer, made from natural fibres, is moisture wicking and will not cause chemical burns to the skin.
  4. Convenience: A menstrual cup can be worn internally for up to 8 hours between emptying, so school students do not need to worry about a lunch-time pad change. Reusable period products don’t run out, so there is no need to dash to the supermarket or stockpile as with disposables.

Latest market reports show that tampon sales have dropped in the last 12 months compared to the previous 12 months, while sales of menstrual cups have increased with over 120 brands in the market today compared to just three brands 15 years ago.

One online retailer reports a 50% increase in menstrual cup sales and 30% increase in period underwear sales from December 2019 to April 2020 when the country was in lockdown. This growth has been maintained and more people are making the switch as word-of-mouth spreads the benefits.

Retailers need to consider stocking menstrual cups alongside pads and tampons to keep up with the changing menstrual market that is moving towards more modern and sustainable options.