Is there such a thing as plastic-free periods? This company says so...

We're all more environmentally conscious these days (thank you David Attenborough), and most of us have made personal waves in recycling, consumption, and eco-friendly living. But the one thing that eludes many of us is that time of the month when we can't escape single-use plastic... until now. 

Standing in the queue in a busy supermarket, keep-cup in hand, I can feel all eyes on my shopping basket. I've been careful to choose plastic-free vegetables, the recyclable tubs of soup, and my avocados are loose. But it's the one single-use plastic item in my hands that I feel I'm being judged over: my tampons.

Of course, no one in the queue is batting an eyelid at the boring contents of my basket, they're all too busy glaring at the man, and then their watches, and then back to the man, who can't work the self-service checkout desk.

But the guilt remains, as it so often does when we think about our personal impact on the environment, and the minefield that is sustainable living. We put more pressure on ourselves than passersby in a supermarket ever could – and rightly so – our ecological footprint is currently 70% higher than the regeneration rate of all of the planet's ecosystems, according to the Global Footprint Network. As well as this, a National Academy of Sciences study found that human civilisation has caused the loss of 83% of all wild mammals and plants.


We're probably kidding ourselves by thinking if we use paper straws in our fast-food cups that we're helping to save the planet. But demand equals supply, and if consumers change their spending habits, manufacturers will eventually have to concede that the modern consumer no longer wants an already skin-covered fruit in a plastic wrapper, or a coffee cup that you can't dispose of in your green or brown bin.

One business that has cottoned onto this quicker than others is Natracare, an eco-friendly manufacturer of period products for the last 30 years. Its founder Susie Hewson is a self-confessed 'eco-warrior' and  industry leader who has been championing plastic-free, natural and organic period products way before it was on anyone else’s radar. Natracare was the first company to produce the world’s first 100% organic cotton tampon back in 1989, and was the first period brand to make its products plastic-free in 1995.

The words 'eco-friendly' and 'periods' in the same sentence often conjure up images of a menstrual cup, that, if we're totally honest, doesn't sound very appealing for an entire day at the office, or a cloth that harks back to Dickens' time.

But eco-friendly period products don’t need to look or function differently to the ones you likely use already. Natracare offers a wide range of pads, tampons, panty liners, wipes, maternity and incontinence products that are all plastic-free, vegan-friendly, and made with only natural ingredients. Sounds inaccessible and expensive, right? Wrong!

Natracare are not only available now in 20 SuperValu stores across the country since November, but its products are available to buy online from the Health Store, with 16 tampons priced at €5.75, and 12 pads priced at €3.55. Not bad for a product that promises to be naturally absorbent, waterproof, breathable and soft, and made from 100% organic cotton – without chlorine.

It may be one small step towards saving the planet, but it sets us on the path to guilt-free, sustainable living.

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