Plastic Free July | How To Care For Your Intimate Parts — Naturally!

Image Credit: Tsuno

12 minutes

It’s Bits & Pits Week! No, it’s not a real thing — but for the final week of Plastic Free July, we wanted to explore some of our favourite ways to naturally manage your intimate areas. Taking care of your menstrual health and underarm health is incredibly important, and we want to show you that you can achieve both — naturally, and without the waste!

Menstrual Health (Bits!)

Did you know that the average Australian who menstruates uses around 10,000-12,000 disposable products in their lifetime?

And, that these products can take anywhere from 500-800 years to break down in landfill?

Mind-blowing really, isn’t it.

This is why we’re so passionate about spreading the word on plastic-free and reusable alternatives for menstrual health.

Throughout history, people have relied upon natural materials or leftover scraps of fabric to create makeshift pads and tampons. Modern-day tampons were created in the 1920s, when medical workers discovered that cellulose was an effective material to soak up blood on the battlefield. In the 1930s, menstrual cups made from vulcanised rubber entered the sanitary scene — but most still preferred to use pads and tampons. 

The shame and stigma associated with periods meant that many would go to extreme lengths to ignore their monthly cycle, and potentially endanger their health in the process. Nowadays, the conversation around menstrual health and sanitary products is focussed on making period products safe, inclusive, affordable, and accessible to anyone who has a period. Yay!

The Environmental Impact Of Sanitary Products

Not only are we talking about menstrual health more, we’re also becoming aware of the environmental damage of disposable pads and tampons.

Conventional pads and tampons are typically made from a blend of cotton and synthetic fibres. Almost all sanitary products on the market are individually wrapped in plastic, too.

And again – these can take anywhere from 500-800 years to break down in landfill. It really puts it into perspective doesn’t it!

So, how can we manage our menstrual cycle comfortably and effectively, without the excessive waste?

Like any part of your plastic-free living journey, your choice of menstrual products is bound to change over time. 

If you’ve used pads your entire life, for example, you might not feel comfortable with a menstrual cup (yet!). Or, maybe you’re not keen on the idea of using a reusable pad. If this is the case, then we can highly recommend starting out by swapping out synthetic pads and tampons for 100% biodegradable options. 

Sustainable Pads & Tampons

One of our favourite menstrual health brands is Tsuno.

Their Mini TamponsRegular Tampons, and Super Tampons are made from 100% Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified cotton, which are 100% biodegradable. 

Tsuno’s Natural Ultra-Thin Panty LinersNatural Bamboo Pads (Regular), and Natural Bamboo Pads (Overnight) are made from natural, renewable bamboo and corn fibre. These beautifully-designed tampons and pads are sustainable alternatives to conventional sanitary products, which typically contain chlorine-bleached synthetic fibres. 

In-store at Ecolateral, you’ll find another major sustainable menstrual health brand: TOM Organic! This Australian business creates 100% organic cotton tampons, pads and liners, and they’ve recently released their first period cup.

Reusable Cloth Pads

Washable, reusable cloth pads are growing in popularity as an alternative to disposable pads. 

Hannahpad is our go-to brand for Reusable Pads and Panty Liners, thanks to their great range of sizes and designs.

Hannahpads are made from certified organic cotton, with a waterproof outer layer to protect your undies. The “wings” feature little buttons to snap in place for all-day comfort and security.

The fantastic part about these washable pads is that you can use them exclusively, or use them in conjunction with your menstrual cup or tampons! 

Washing your reusable pads is a breeze, with the Hannah Probiotics Laundry Soap. This probiotic soap is made with plant-based natural oils and effective micro-organisms to keep your reusable menstrual pads and period underwear fresh and stain-free for longer without irritating your intimate areas!

Menstrual Cups

Have you tried a menstrual cup from OrganiCup, Lunette or TOM Organic? They are life changing!

Menstrual cups are foldable, insertable cups made from 100% BPA-Free, medical-grade silicone. These handy cups can completely eradicate the need for pads and tampons.

Over the course of a few years (or however long your menstrual cup lasts), you could save hundreds of dollars on sanitary products! 

And, across the years, you’re also potentially saving thousands of pads or tampons from heading to landfill!

Menstrual cups work by creating a light suction seal inside your vagina. Folding and inserting the cup correctly means that it will expand and capture blood for up to 12 hours. If it’s inserted correctly, you won’t be able to feel it at all. You can play sport, sleep, go swimming, and live your life completely unhindered by your period.

Because menstrual cups are made from naturally hygienic medical-grade silicone, there is a decreased risk of developing vaginal dryness, yeast infections, and toxic shock syndrome. 

When you’re ready to empty your menstrual cup, all you need to do is reach in and gently break the seal to pull the cup out. It can be messy, but with practice, you’ll find that it’s a breeze. We highly recommend emptying your menstrual cup in the shower for easy clean-up, but over the toilet works perfectly fine too! 

It’s important to gently wash your menstrual cup between uses with a mild, pH-balanced cleanser. The OrganiCup Wash (75ml) and Lunette Menstrual Cup Cleanser (150ml) both work perfectly to cleanse your menstrual cup, before and after use. However, we’re not always in the comfort of our own home to wash our cup.

The OrganiCup Menstrual Cup Wipes (10pk) and Lunette Menstrual Cup Disinfecting Wipes (10pk) are designed to clean your cup on-the-go! These disinfecting wipes keep your menstrual cup fresh, safe and clean when you don’t have access to clean water. This is super handy when you’re travelling! 

Leakproof Period & Incontinence Underwear

Leakproof period underwear is another absolute game-changer!

For many of us, washable, leakproof undies — like our favourites from Pelvi — have become a dependable asset to manage our periods. 

Pelvi Leakproof Underwear combines soft, comfortable fabrics with built-in, water resistant, absorbency liners to give you maximum leakproof protection that actually works all day. Pelvi’s Leakproof BikiniLeakproof Full Brief, and Leakproof G-String each hold up to 20ml of liquid, which is around 2.5 tampons worth of fluid. 

Pelvi’s leakproof underwear contains four super absorbent layers wick away moisture, sweat and discharge away from the source to fight bacteria and keep you fresh. These breathable, anti-bacterial undies are fantastic to manage your monthly period, light bladder leakage, or post-partum bleeding. Leakproof underwear is also fantastic for those in-between days of your period, where your flow isn’t really heavy enough for a menstrual cup or tampon.

Simply rinse, machine-wash, dry and reuse!

Underarm Health (Pits!)

Ok, now it’s time to talk about armpits! When we think about our underarms, we skip straight to the things that we don’t want them to do: sweat, smell, chafe, stain our clothes, or become itchy, bumpy, sore, or red. Most of us prevent hair from growing there, too.

But, the reality is that our armpits exist to produce sweat to cool us down. This sweat mixes with bacteria found in the underarm area, and this is what creates the smell. So, it isn’t the sweat itself that smells — it’s the bacteria working to break down the fluid secreted by your underarm glands! 

Our armpits are also home to more than 20 lymph nodes called the axillary lymph nodes. These oversee the regulation and filtration of lymph through the upper limbs and back. The clumps of lymph nodes in the armpit region are an important part of the body’s immune system! 

Our armpits are teeming with bacteria, which is collectively known as a microbiome. There are plenty of reasons why our underarm microbiome can change. These include genetics, hormones, diet, personal hygiene habits, and our choice of deodorant and antiperspirant, just to name a few!

Antiperspirant vs. Deodorant

Antiperspirant products work by plugging the sweat glands with chemicals to stop your body from producing sweat. Which is nasty!

Common antiperspirant ingredients — like aluminium, parabens, phthalates, and triclosan — are toxic chemicals that have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, various cancers, and hormonal disruption.

In such a sensitive area, we don’t need these ingredients wreaking havoc on our long-term health! 

Before we even touch a deodorant, we need to make sure we’re cleansing our underarms regularly in the shower to remove odour-causing bacteria. We like using Corrynne’s Clay Body Block, because it draws out toxins from the skin and provides mild exfoliation. 

What Is ‘Natural’ Deodorant?

The reality is that our bodies need to sweat!

Natural deodorants help to minimise body odour whilst allowing our sweat glands to do their job (cooling us down and eliminating toxins!). According to one of our favourite natural deodorant brands, Black Chicken, natural deodorants typically contain three integral ingredients:

  • Disinfecting Ingredients. All deodorants need ingredients to fight the build-up of bacteria in the underarm. These anti-bacterial ingredients, like coconut oil, aloe leaf juice, and tea tree oil help to neutralise the source of body odour. 
  • Absorbent Ingredients. Powders and starches, like baking soda, corn starch, arrowroot powder, activated charcoal powder, clay and tapioca starch physically absorb excess moisture. 
  • Natural Scents. Most natural deodorants contain essential oils to leave the underarm smelling fresh, like lemongrass, rose, bergamot, and lavender. 

Make The Switch To Natural Deodorant!

Nowadays, making the switch to natural deodorant is easy!

We’re spoilt for choice, both in the composition of the deodorant (stick, roll-on, paste, spray) and the array of scents available to us. 

Black Chicken’s Axilla Deodorant Paste is known to out-perform mainstream antiperspirants! This natural paste deodorant doesn’t contain any aluminium salts, sweat blockers, alcohol, parabens, propylene glycol, triclosans, synthetic fragrances or other harmful chemicals. This potent formula is great for the whole family — even sweaty teenagers! 

Woohoo’s range of 100% natural, aluminum-free deodorants are fantastic for your specific needs. Woohoo’s Deodorant & Anti-Chafe Sticks and Woohoo’s Deodorant Paste Tins are available in six varieties: 

  • Mellow (Sensitive & Bi-Carb Free). Unscented! 
  • Tango (Sensitive & Bi-Carb Free). Zesty, citrus scent. 
  • Surf (Regular Strength). Tropical, surfy scent. 
  • Urban (Regular Strength). Subtle citrus and floral scent. 
  • Wild (Extra Strength). Citrus, unisex scent. 
  • Tux (Extra Strength). Sweet, spicy, and woody scent. 

Aside from choosing a natural deodorant to wear everyday, we love using Earths Purities Detox-a-Pit regularly to improve the armpit microbiome and restore natural pH levels. This armpit mask helps to draw out toxins and heavy metals built up in the sweat glands. Using this armpit mask regularly can treat the bacterial balance that causes extreme body odour! 

Did you know that Ecolateral has its own Zero Waste Deodorants?

That’s right! Our very own deodorant sticks are aluminum-free, bi-carb free, plastic-free, 100% vegan, and locally-made! We have two gorgeous, refreshing scents: Citrus, and Floral!

We have plenty more Natural Deodorants for you to browse through online! Or, come visit us in-store at Magill, Brighton, Blackwood or Adelaide CBD.