There are a variety of products available to manage menstruation. Among them are traditional feminine hygiene products from brand names that you likely know including Tampax, Playtex and Always. These are all disposable products and made of questionable materials.
I caution you to be discerning when choosing a menstrual product(s) to manage your monthly flow. The average woman bleeds only about 3 tablespoons of blood each month. I think we can agree that's not a lot and yet we tend to consume disproportionate amounts of product to manage this relatively small inconvenience.
Traditional pads and tampons can be expensive as you must keep restocking them and end up in landfill sights the world over. Some are made out of nefarious materials that may cause problems considering they are meant for an extremely delicate area of the female body.
Alternatives to these do exist -
There are 3 basic varieties of RUMPS:
The sponge is a sea fibre that is an all-natural alternative to tampons in that they are inserted into the vagina and soak up the blood. One advantage of a menstrual sponge is that they conform to the individual's body and thus are very comfortable once in place. Each sponge should be thoroughly rinsed and wrung out before insertion and will absorb for about 4 hours when it will needs to be thoroughly rinsed and reinserted or a new one used in its place. The use of sponges is a learning curve (much like tampons) but if you're concerned about environmental waste then this could be the option for you. The ones shown above are from the seaspongecompany or you can check out what your local health food store carries.
A menstrual cup is a little silicone rose shaped cup that once inserted inside it catches the blood and can remain for up to 10 hours before it will need to be emptied, rinsed and reinserted. Our friends and favourite, the DivaCup is widely available and one cup can last for 10 years! Imagine the money you can save! The hassle of running out will no longer be a problem. Sounds like a perfect 10 to me.
Here's a short video that explains how to use a menstrual cup.
ReUsable cloth pads.
Cloth pads are incredibly comfortable and can be personalized in a infinite variety of fabrics, pattern and sizes. The common cloth pad is made from cotton and is free from harming chemicals that may be found in traditional pads. Using cloth pads is better for the environment (less waste) and your budget as you simply reuse your stock each month. There is more work required if you should you use cloth pads, namely rinsing them in cold water as quickly as you can after changing, and then washing and drying them. They might prove tricky if you have a heavy flow and need to change them often and are never home but a simple ziplock bag in your purse could be all you need to deal with this. You can also custom order them or make your own and change the absorbency potential of them by adding or deleting centre layers. You can buy them from such fabulous small business as Pretty Eco Intimates, Lunapads and GladRags or make your own. Here a link to a sight that offers a tutorial and pattern to do just that.
So I urge you the next time you're in that aisle of the store -and it tends to be the whole aisle what with the incontinent crowd mingling with the female sanitary items - have a good long browse. Meander through the offerings and read the contents keenly. Try and really see what's available for you instead of unthinkingly stocking up on the usual, or what's on sale. You can make the world and your period environmentally friendlier and isn't that empowering?