Clothing,  Health & Beauty

Eco-friendly, re-usable and stylish period pants: An easy way to reduce your plastic waste

It’s hard to ignore the environmental nightmare caused by countless single-use sanitary towels, tampons and their packaging. Even less surprising that mainstream disposable period products are made of 90% plastic.

How scary to know that around 1.5 – 2 billion of these plasticky menstrual items are flushed down toilets every year in the UK alone.

And over 200,000 tonnes of them from the UK end up in landfill each year. For more info and stats, see this factsheet from the Women’s Environmental Network.

Yes, period waste is a HUGE issue.

Thankfully, many businesses have woken up to this fact. They know there’s growing demand for good quality, reliable and environmentally sustainable period products. 

The key eco-friendly period alternatives to single-use products are reusable pads, pants and silicone cups. 

What works well for someone else just might not suit you. But the options are evolving all the time. If you’re determined to reduce your monthly cycle’s impact on the environment, there’s bound to be an option for you.

Today’s post is all about a great brand of period pants.

Pants with purpose

Have you noticed how many businesses have launched period pants products in the last few years?

Similar to washable pads, investing in some good period pants will not only reduce your overall plastic-use and environmental impact, it’ll save you loads of money in the long run. And loads of hassle too.

Having tried a few different brands, I’d say the best eco-friendly period pants are made by WUKA. 

I bought my first two pairs from the “Ultra” range in May 2018. They’ re still going strong – see the pic below. 

At £25 per pair, this works out as around £1.50 per period so far. Not bad, eh?

More recently, I bought a five pack for £50.00 from the Basics range and they seem just as good.

WUKA say the pants should last for at least 2 years, if care instructions are properly followed.

What are WUKA pants made of?

WUKA use a number of different sustainable materials across their three ranges:

Ultra: These pants are made of two sustainable fabrics. First up is Lenzing® Tencel Modal which comes from sustainable beech trees. It’s biodegradable and fully compostable. The second is Econyl. This comes from recovered ocean plastic waste and is super absorbent. It wicks away moisture and also makes the pants leak-proof.  

Basics: These are made of Econyl and organic cotton which is certified by the Better Cotton Initiative, the largest cotton sustainability programme in the world. 

Perform: These seamless pants are made from recycled nylon. WUKA donate 1% of all sales of this range to marine conservation charity, Surfers Against Sewage. 

For more details about the ranges and styles available, click here.

I haven’t tried the Perform range yet but pants from the Ultra and Basics ranges are both very soft, comfortable and well made.

Although it may not be obvious from the pictures above, the pants also look nice when on. They fit well and give good coverage.

What about flow options and sizing?

You can choose from three different absorbencies:

Light (at least 7ml / 1 tampons’ worth)
Medium (at least 15ml / 2 – 3 tampons’ worth)
Heavy (at least 20ml / 4 tampons’ worth)

Nine sizes are available from XXS to 4XL. I’m around a size 10 and find M is right for me. For more details, see here.

But the sizing quandary is risk-free. When you receive your order, if you try on one pair and find it to be too big or small, you can return all the pairs to WUKA for a free exchange within 40 days.

Or if you decide the pants aren’t for you, you can get a refund within that timeframe.

How do the pants perform?

I can hand on heart say I’ve never had any leaks when wearing the WUKA pants which, quite frankly, is a miracle.

I have Medium and Heavy flow pants which I also wear on lighter days and they work well. 

The pants have a panel which goes from the gusset all the way up the back. This really helps prevent any leaking when you’re sitting or lying down. Dangerous stances, especially on the heavy days. Since changing to WUKA, the days of fretting about ruining nice bed sheets and PJs have gone.

On heavy days, you’d need to change the pants about half way through the day. Of course, this is so much easier during Covid restrictions if you’re home practically 24/7. If you were away from home and needed to change the pants, I’d suggest putting the used pair in a wet bag for storage. You can then rinse them out as soon as you’re back home.

If you’d prefer not to change them during the day or if you don’t have enough pairs to get you through multiple changes over a few days, you could just wear the WUKA pants over normal underwear with a reusable pad that you can change as often as needed.

How about washing them?

After use, you need to rinse the WUKA pants out in cold water, wring and air dry before washing with normal laundry in the machine. 30 degrees is perfect.

Predictably, WUKA pants don’t like fabric conditioner or tumble dryers as these could hinder their absorbency, so best to avoid if you can.

Drying time depends on the temperature of the room you’re drying in. In warmer months, they can dry overnight but I find they take two days to dry in normal temperatures.

Unless you can afford to invest in quite a few pairs (say 10 or so), it pays off to be organised with washing the pants during your period. If you can put a few used pairs through the laundry every few days, you shouldn’t run out of clean pairs when you need them.

Packaging and manufacturing conditions

WUKA’s packaging is 100% plastic free. The pants come in brown cardboard boxes with paper wrapping and/or compostable cornstarch bags. So no worries there.

WUKA pants are manufactured in China and packed in the UK. Their manufacturer has ISO Standard Audits, BSCI (Business Social Compliance Initiative) Audits and OEKO-TEX Confidence in Textiles (Testing for harmful substances). 

And WUKA say they only work with suppliers who are transparent about their employment and environmental performance. 

Their pants are also approved by The Vegan Society and PETA.

Anything else I need to know?

Now, there are two things I want to flag which apply to period pants generally (not just WUKA).

The first is that they can look a little bulky. Especially the heavy flow pants. If I’m wearing a tight dress, they do stand out a little. The same goes for close-fitting leggings.

The pants are less obvious with thicker jeans. But do expect some kind of VPL.

WUKA’s newest range, Perform, claims to be VPL-free. I’m looking forward to trying them out to see if that’s the case.

The other point to mention is that unlike many disposable products, period pants do not have that “fresh” scent. This is because they’re not pumped full of artificial fragrance and other chemicals. If you’re used to an overpowering scent for period products, you might find period pants a bit strange at first. 

Most period pants (including WUKA) are made of fabrics which claim to guard against odour. As long as you don’t wear one pair for more than say 5 hours straight on heavy days, you shouldn’t have any concerns. 

For added peace of mind, you might want to wear nice body oil or lotion and spray some extra perfume on your clothes on heavy days. I wouldn’t spray the pants though!

So, what do you think? Have you tried WUKA or any other eco-friendly period pants? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

WUKA period pants, from £12.00 – £24.99 for a single pair or £50.00 – £99.99 for multipacks. Available online from www.wuka.co.uk Also stocked in Sainsbury’s and Superdrug. 

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