Period pants are the next big sustainable buy: where to grab yours, plus how they actually work

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  • Underwear that absorbs blood for up to ten hours and skips the need for a tampon? We're listening...

    Period pants are set to be all the rage this year, offering a more eco-friendly alternative to tampons and pads and a way to make your period sustainable without having to opt for a period cup.

    They’re basically a super absorbent pair of pants which promise to hold up to ten hours of period blood, but more on exactly what they are and how they work from two experts in a bit.

    Period products account for 200,000 tonnes of UK landfill waste every year. That’s 200,000 tonnes of tampons and pads contributing to the mounting tide of plastic pollution. It’s vital, now more than ever, that we try, where we can, to live more sustainably and take accountability for our actions – and period pants could be a great place to start.

    Why? Well, quite simply, because they eliminate the need for plastic-packed period products. “WUKA period pants can be used for at least two years, which prevents over 200 disposables from going to landfill with every pair,” explains Ruby Raut, co-founder and CEO of period pant company WUKA. Think of it this way: one person would use 120 pairs of period pants over a lifetime compared to 8640 single-use plastic tampons and applicators. “They’re just a much more sustainable, planet-friendly period product,” she goes on.

    For your complete guide to what they are, how to clean them and where to buy, you’re in the right place.

    Period pants: So what are they?

    According to Emily Ewell, CEO and co-founder of Pantys, period pants are pants that both look and feel like normal underwear but that have a super absorbent, antibacterial and impermeable liner. “This can be used to absorb menstruation, post partum and even light incontinence fluids,” she explains.

    Not only are they sustainable, as we’ve mentioned, but they’re also comfortable, too. Just think about never having to use a tampon again…

    Period pants: two women in period pants stand and hug

    How do period pants work? 

    Good question. It’s pretty simple, explain Raut and Ewell. They’re are made from super absorbent material, as above, that can hold up to two tampons’ worth of period blood, dependent on the brand or type you’re using.

    They commonly also have another layer, specifically designed to prevent any unexpected leaks, and what they call a ‘moisture barrier’, to make sure you stay comfortable throughout.

    Plus, they’re breathable, to eliminate any chance of smell, and also reusable, obviously. Once you’ve used a pair of period pants, its as simple as popping them in the wash with your other unclean clothes.

    Not so comfortable using them on their own or worried because you have a particularly heavy flow? You can use period pants however you like, Ewell reassures. “Women use period pants for many reasons,” she shares. “Many use them exclusively during menstruation in place of disposable or internal menstrual products; some use in combination with a tampon or cup to bring a ‘peace of mind’ to unexpected leaks; some use on lighter days to bring more comfort and reduce the number of discarded half-used tampons; and some use sleeping for a leak-free night’s rest.”

    So, are period pants sustainable? 

    Sure, you understand that wearing period pants saves on plastic waste. But is producing more clothes really the answer? Good question, but a problem most brands are passion about solving. Obviously, it depends on which brand you opt for, but most are made from organic cotton and sustainable, biodegradable materials, too.

    “At WUKA, we believe that periods should not cost the earth,” explains Raut. “We use the highest quality materials in all of our underwear, from Global Organic Textile Standard organic cotton, to biodegradable Tencel Modal made from sustainable beech trees, to Econyl made from plastic waste from our oceans.”

    Period pants: Two women in period pants stand side by side

    How to wash your TOTM pants

    1. Soak or rinse your pants in cold water immediately after removing them.
    2. Next, wash at 30 to 40 degrees with your other clothes and normal detergent.
    3. Once washed, do hang up to dry, rather than tumble drying.

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