The cost of your period

Save money, and save the planet, with reusable period pants

WUKA is a female-led start-up that makes the UK’s first period underwear that completely replaces tampons and pads. It has calculated that it is less expensive to use reusable period pants, rather than conventional menstrual products, and has much less environmental impact.

That’s big news in an era of period poverty, when many cannot afford traditional sanitary products.

According to the company’s calculations — which uses modest estimates taken from a UK supermarket comparison site — it shows that using reusable period pants over a two-year period works out at around £50 cheaper than using conventional tampons and pads. 

The company’s chief executive and founder, Ruby Raut, reckons it’s not just about the cost either — there are big environmental issues at stake too.

Research has shown that around 40% of women dispose of sanitary products by flushing them down the toilet — although they should be thrown into landfill, she tells OM. Statistics show that women in the UK flush 4.6 million menstrual items every day which leads to plastic pollution in our rivers and oceans. Using reusable period underwear removes the waste issue as they can be used again and again, up to two years, according to Raut.

“When you see photographs of used tampons and pads littering UK beaches it brings it home that as women, just because of our periods, we are inadvertently contributing to the plastic pollution issue,” she says. “I created WUKA because I really wanted to do something to combat this. Using reusables is a win-win on cost and for the environment.”

Changing attitudes

A passionate environmental scientist, Raut felt compelled to do something about it. That meant starting a business that created ecofriendly and empowering period solutions, especially after her own teenage experiences growing up with her parents and two sisters in Nepal, where life was far from easy.

The Nepalese word for period translates as ‘untouchable’  — reflecting a shame about menstruation that co-exists across the Western world. She saw the impact of this cultural shame around menstruation as women and girls were regularly exiled from the family home during their period. This degrading practice, Chaupadi, is now illegal. Menstruating women were not allowed indoors because of the belief that they would contaminate everything  during this ‘impure’ time. When she had her first period, aged 12 years old, she was sent away to her aunt’s house and not allowed to go outside in the sun, not allowed to look at men, or touch plants, in case they died! 

Her company now provides a range of period underwear to suit different menstrual flows and also caters for teen sizes and sells a 100% biodegradable Wuka Bralette.

Raut says the period pants are a reusable environmentally sustainable solution to traditional period products and are made with CO2 neutral Lenzing MicroModal fabric (from beech trees).

As well as the sustainability issue, she hopes that the cost advantage will result in a broad shift in outlook to periods as more women seek alternative solutions. “If you want to save money and save the planet, then you’re better off using WUKA reusable period pants which are leak-free and keep you dry and comfortable,” she says. “While you have to pay more upfront for our period underwear, they last you around two years, and work out cheaper over this time than buying loads of single-use products, most of which contain plastic and will take generations  to decompose.”

To find out more about WUKA visit: wuka.co.uk

Om Magazine

First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.