If you do not mind cleaning your menstrual aids there are some non-disposable products available that will not result in increased landfill or waste. They do require you to be vigilant in your cleaning and skilled in their use. Often it is costly to purchase these products, but they may be reused over several years, so may work out less expensive than needing to keep purchasing disposable pads and tampons.
Sea sponge tampons can be used as you would use a disposable tampon. They are natural sponges which have been thoroughly cleaned to remove any sea creatures and debris. They are inserted dry and removed as you would a tampon. They should also be changed every four to six hours, and replaced with another dry sponge. You need to thoroughly clean each sponge after use and then boil them in order to ensure that they will not harbour any infection. You will need at least two sponges and they will probably last at least six months.
Menstrual cups are rubber or latex-based bell shaped devices that need to be folded and inserted into the vaginal canal with the stem pointing towards the outside of the body. Care must be taken to place them so that they collect or stop the flow of the menstrual fluid, which then falls out or is tipped out on removal of the cup. The cup may then be rinsed and reinserted. Menstrual cups come in different sizes, as women that have given birth will usually need a larger cup in order for the cup to remain in place. Menstrual cups, if carefully washed and dried, may last for several years. They should be removed and then reinserted if needed, at least every eight hours, or more often during the day.
You may also use cloths to soak up menstrual fluids. These should be made of soft natural material, such as cotton or other natural fabrics, that are thin yet absorbent. They should be frequently changed, rinsed thoroughly and then soaked in solution similar to baby napkins. This soaking solution needs to be removed by several cold water rinses so you don’t cause skin rashes and irritation to the external vaginal area.
Your community pharmacist can advise you on the appropriate natural menstrual aids, and how you may clean and use them in order to lessen the environmental impact of your menstrual cycle. Most pharmacies have some natural menstrual products and will secure you any products and advice you may need to help manage your menstrual periods.