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Health & Beauty, Life & Style

Accessible Eco-Friendly Period Products | AD

This post on accessible eco-friendly period products is paid-for content in association with Natracare.

Conventional period products harbour a dirty secret.  Did you know that the average sanitary towel is 90% plastic?  This equates to the plastic equivalent of a shocking five plastic bags per packet of sanitary towels.  If you consider that the average person who has a period uses over 11,000 disposable menstrual products in their lifetime, then this adds up to a whole lot of plastic.  Many of these products wrongly get flushed down the toilet and end up damaging our oceans and the creatures that inhabit our seas.  

Dirty Secrets

When it comes to tampons, it also turns out that even ‘plant-based’ applicators, often sold by organic brands are not actually biodegradable. These applicators, therefore, act exactly the same as regular oil-based plastics would after use. 

What’s more, most conventional period products are packed with chemicals and fragrances that are unkind to our skin, especially in the most sensitive areas. 

With all of these issues, it’s understandable and also great news that interest in eco-friendly period products is growing.  I’m personally a big fan of reusable period products. I’ve written before about eco-friendly period options, and encourage the use of reusables where possible.  However, I’m also painfully aware that many reusable period options are not accessible to all – through cost aspects, limited sizing, lack of washing facilities, and through mobility and/or dexterity impairments.

The Accessibility Issue When It Comes to Reusable Period Products

Today I wanted to look at some of the accessibility problems of the most common reusable period protection options. Then I’ll look at what you can do if reusable options aren’t accessible to you, but you are still concerned about the environment.

Menstrual Cups

Menstrual cups aren’t suitable for everyone – particularly those with motor-skills impairment, as insertion and removal can be tricky. At around £20+ per cup, a cup can be a steep upfront investment for some, particularly if there is more than one householder requiring a cup. 

Cleaning can be tricky. Many people aren’t comfortable washing out their cups in public bathrooms.  In order to keep your cup hygienic, you also have to boil it every month. This could be tricky in a shared household, let alone for those who don’t have access to basic facilities. 

Cloth Sanitary Towels

Having a cloth sanitary towel stash can be expensive, with pads varying between around £5 and £12 per pad.  I personally find having around 8 pads to be the optimum amount of pads required to comfortably see you through a cycle. That upfront investment could be prohibitive. 

Period Pants  

Period pants are expensive.  At around £30 a pair, the initial investment in purchasing multiple pairs could be cost-prohibitive.  Price aside, period pants are available in limited styles, colours, and crucially limited sizes. Whilst new options and sizes are arriving as period pants are catching on, it’s still limited in comparison to standard underwear.

And moving away from price – having to change your pants in public toilets can also be problematic, particularly for those with reduced mobility levels.  Remember you will have to remove your trousers/tights and shoes to be able to remove your pants, before getting dressed again in a small cubicle. 

What If Reusable Period Products Are Inaccessible to Me?

natracare plastic-free period products

If reusable period options aren’t accessible to you for whatever reason, then be assured that eco-friendly disposable period products (that aren’t greenwashing you) do exist!  A good environmentally friendly option would be to choose a disposable brand that is certified organic, vegan, plastic-free, and compostable, like Natracare.  

Natracare’s period products are all plastic, perfume, dye, pesticide, and chlorine-free.  Made from soft, breathable, natural materials, their pads, liners, and tampons are kind to you and kind to the environment.  What’s more, their products are not tested on animals either for extra peace of mind.

Natracare is widely available on Amazon, Ocado, Waitrose, and in health food shops.  Expecting to pay more for their products compared to their plastic counterparts?  You’d be wrong: Natracare’s prices are comparable with big-name sanitary protection brands. A box of 14 sanitary towels costs around £2.

The only plastic I could find was on the plastic wrapping of Natracare’s non-applicator tampons.  I asked Natracare and they told me this is made from BPA-free, recyclable plastic. They use this to meet legal requirements as tampons are considered a medical device. Some other brands have begun switching to paper wrappings. However, until Natracare is confident this is a safe and more sustainable option, they will keep using their current packaging. 

eco-friendly accessible period products

How Does Natracare’s Period Products Perform?

I personally tested a few different products from the Natracare range out – their ultra super period pads and curved panty liners – and found their period products very comfortable and highly absorbent. Crucially they stayed in place too, which is always very important!

Beyond the basics, I felt reassured by the fact that Natracare’s products contain no nasties, such as chlorine and perfumes. Particularly in the very place where you don’t want anything nasty. The lack of plastic is a huge plus point too. Don’t just take my word for it – Ethical Consumer also recommend Natracare in the disposable tampons and pads category. Definitely one to check out!

Health & Beauty, Life & Style

Homemade Hand Sanitiser Recipe – WHO Recommended Formulation

homemade hand sanitiser

DISCLAIMER: This homemade hand sanitiser recipe is not a substitute for proper handwashing.

Last year I made some homemade hand sanitiser that I have been meaning to share with you. I have two young kids, aged 4 and 8. Whilst my kids are great at getting into messes when we’re out and about, I have to hold my hands up and say I’m an expert at it too!

Also, have you seen the original Trainspotting movie? If so, then you’ll know the scene with the worst toilet in Scotland. Admittedly, whilst not as bad as that toilet, I’ve definitely found a few contenders in and around Edinburgh. Whilst I would always prefer to wash my hands with soap and water, hand sanitiser is definitely a handy thing to carry in those times.

In recent times, hand sanitiser has been tricky to get hold of, so here’s a recipe if you ever find yourself in a pinch.

I’ve updated this recipe for 2021, because my original recipe contained witch hazel. This isn’t strong enough against COVID-19. As such, I’ve updated this recipe to make it compliant with the Word Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendations for making hand sanitiser. This means that has been proven to kill harmful micro-organisms on your hands.

The Homemade Hand Sanitiser Ingredients

The three main ingredients of the WHO recommended hand sanitiser spray are:

  • Isopropyl alcohol 99.8% provides the germ-killing properties, through its high alcohol content.
  • Hydrogen peroxide at a dilution of 3%. Hydrogen peroxide is a mild disinfectant that kills yeasts, fungi, bacteria, viruses. It’s safe to use on your skin and is often prescribed by dentists for swollen gums.  
  • Vegetable glycerine, which acts as a moisturiser to avoid your hands drying out from the high alcohol content of the isopropyl alcohol.

I have also added some essential oils, to add some scent. The essential oils may also boost the antibacterial properties of this homemade hand sanitiser. However, you can leave them out if you want. The irony here is that the essential oils are not essential!

If you do want to use essential oils, I chose lemongrass essential oil for this homemade hand sanitiser recipe because of its proven antibacterial action. This scientific study showed that lemongrass oil is even effective against drug-resistant organisms.

Please note, lemongrass essential oil can be too strong for sensitive skins. If you are sensitive to lemongrass, consider another essential oil with germ-killing properties, such as tea tree oil.

I also chose lavender essential oil for its antibacterial action. Lavender oil has proven effective against e-coli and MRSA in scientific studies.

Essential oils aren’t recommended for use on children younger than two. Again, doing a bit of research on essential oils if you decide you want to is always highly recommended.

As always, keep your essential oils and the finished product out of the reach of children, and only use them under direct adult supervision.

Make your own all natural homemade hand sanitiser / hand sanitizer with this easy recipe.

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Makes 3 x 100 ml bottles of hand sanitiser – one for your bag, one for your hallway, and one for your car.

Ingredients

3 x 100 ml glass spray bottle* (use an old one if you have one. You can also use an old plastic bottle. Sometimes over time, the essential oils can eat away at the plastic so just be mindful of that if you are using essential oil. However, if there’s less chance of it breaking in your bag then plastic is a better choice).

175 ml Isopropyl Alcohol (99.8%)*

1/2 tablespoon Hydrogen Peroxide (3%)*

2 teaspoons vegetable glycerine*

90 mls cooled boiled water

10 drops Lemongrass essential oil (optional)

10 drops Lavender essential oil (optional)

Method

Add all the ingredients to a bowl, and mixing together. Using a funnel, then pour the solution into your clean, dry empty bottles.

Next, add the spray nozzles.

Finally, as per the WHO recommendations, let your bottle sit for a minimum of 72 hours before you use it. That way the sanitiser has time to kill any bacteria that might have been introduced during the mixing process.

Usage & Storage

Before usage, I would always recommend doing a patch test on a small area of your skin, to test for any sensitivities. If after 24 hours there has been no reaction then you should be good to continue usage.

Before each use, shake the bottle well to combine everything and spray your hands a few times. Rub your hands together until they are dry. Do not use on broken skin.

Notes on Good Hand Hygiene

Whilst hand sanitiser is good in a pinch, the single most effective way of removing germs from your hands is to wash your hands with warm water and soap. My top tip is to use hand sanitiser when you don’t have access to running water and soap but to make sure you wash your hands as soon as you can.

The NHS has some good advice on how to wash your hands properly – apparently singing happy birthday twice helps you gauge the length of time you should be washing for!

Some Other Tips On Staying Healthy

Hand sanitiser, and regular hand washing, is only one small step in protecting yourself from germs. The UK Government’s current advice is also that we should:

Stay at home. Unless you can’t work from home, then you should only leave the house except for essential trips, such as picking up food, medications, and going to the doctor.

Cover your mouth with the crook of your elbow whenever you cough or sneeze.

When you need to go out for essential business, you should stay at least 2 metres away from other people. This is called social distancing. Keeping your distance makes it hard for the virus to jump from someone else to you (or vice versa).

Wear a face mask when in indoor public spaces. It is now mandatory to wear a face mask when in shops, on public transport, and in other public places, unless there is a medical reason why you cannot.

Avoid touching your face. You could transmit the virus from your hands into your mouth.

Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Do it daily. Here’s my guide to natural cleaning products to DIY. These clean, but don’t disinfect, so I would supplement with a disinfectant.