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7 Local brands for an eco-friendly and budget-friendly period

by | May 25, 2023

Every day 300 million people around the world menstruate for approximately five days in every 28 day cycle. Many South Africans do not have access to or cannot afford to buy sanitary products. According to iMenstruate 83% of girl learners do not have regular access to menstrual hygiene products at school and at home. This is called period poverty.

Growing up, I witnessed how women and girls close to me would upcycle old clothing to use instead of buying sanitary towels which they couldn’t. I have often done the same and I hated it. Looking back, I remember how embarrassing it was having to hang the upcycled sanitary towels – “iziqhusheko” as my granny would say – outside to dry. Nobody should have to feel embarrassed about something that happens naturally.

Although I didn’t realise it at the time, the cloth sanitary towels that caused me so much embarrassment were an eco-friendly option. Today, the menstrual products that my friends and I couldn’t afford are polluting the planet in unimaginable ways.

Most modern period products that are manufactured and sold to us are non-biodegradable, contain plastic, contribute to carbon emissions, and can take 500 to 800 years to break down once disposed of.

Luckily for us, there are many tutorials out there on how to make your own cloth pads. But, if you are not feeling up to the challenge, here are seven local businesses you can support who have an offering of earth-friendly period products:



Mina - Eco-friendly period product

When it comes to your period, Mina will be your new best friend. Mina is a menstrual cup that is plastic-free, lasts for up to five years, is made out of 100% medical-grade silicone, and is hypoallergenic. Mina is eco-friendly, cost-effective, and extremely comfortable to swim and sleep with.

Care tips: Always wash your hands before and after using your menstrual cup. To sterilise Mina, you can immerse the menstrual cup in a cup of boiling water for 3-5 min and air dry it before storing it in a breathable cotton pouch.

What to do at the end of its lifespan: Cut it up into small pieces and put it in the bin.

Price range: R180 on the Mina website or R165.00 at most Clicks Stores countrywide. For every purchase, The Mina Foundation gifts a Mina menstrual cup to a menstruator in need.



Safepad - Eco-friendly period product

Safepad is a one-of-a-kind antimicrobial and reusable menstrual pad designed to provide a safe and infection-free experience while in use. The innovative antimicrobial technology kills bacteria and fungi which means it can be washed even if you don’t have access to clean water. It doesn’t need to be dried in the sun like other reusable sanitary pads. It is made of a soft fabric material that does not irritate, and the fabric technology ensures high and immediate absorbency, non-leakage, and quick drying after washing. Safepad can be reused for approximately five years.

Care tips: After each use, soak the used Safepad in cold water with soap. Do not use bleach. Rinse with clean water and then hang to dry in a ventilated area.

What to do at the end of its lifespan: Safepad can be recycled at the end of its lifespan.

Price range: R230 – 350. Available on Takealot for R279 or check out their website for other stockists.



ANNA - Eco-friendly period product

ANNA is the country’s first locally manufactured, environmentally-friendly menstrual pads and liners. ANNA products are manufactured in Cape Town and made from 100% raw, organic cotton sourced from farms in Pakistan for softness and breathability. The core of the pads and liners contain absorbent polymers and is made from 100% natural plant fibres sourced from renewable, responsibly-managed forests that are FSC certified. ANNA pads are free of fragrances, dyes, and parabens.

What to do at the end of its lifespan: ANNA pads are single-use, disposable pads made with sustainable materials.

Price range: R24.99 for a pack of 10 maxi pads. Available countrywide at Checkers, Dischem, Pick n Pay, Spar, and online at Faithful to Nature.


Miss Ruby Period Panties

Miss Ruby Period Panties - Eco-friendly period product

Miss Ruby period panties are a comfortable alternative to the usual disposable products and can be used period after period for years if you care for them correctly. They come in two cuts, a bikini and a boyleg shape, with three different absorbency options (heavy, regular, and light/liner). Their sizes range from extra small to extra large. There is no need to use them with a pad and they only need to be changed every 12 hours, depending on your flow. The absorbent parts are made from 100% cotton. The majority of the underwear’s fabrication is cotton lycra which is 95% cotton and 5% lycra/spandex. There’s also a hidden breathable waterproof layer to avoid leakage.

Care tips: Rinse immediately after use till the water runs clear. If you are unable to rinse immediately, put them in a wet bag and rinse as soon as possible. After rinsing, wash without using fabric softener or bleach. Line dry.

What to do at the end of its lifespan: Wash the underwear properly and send them to a fabric recycling facility with other clothing.

Price range: R290 – R489. Available on their website, Faithful to Nature, Butterfly Wings, Natah health shop, Lime Fusion, and Azikho in Salt Rock.


Palesa Pads

Palesa Pads - Eco-friendly period product

Palesa Pads is a social enterprise that manufactures and distributes high-quality, reusable cloth sanitary pads in Southern Africa. Palesa Pads are committed to providing a sustainable solution to help curb period poverty and for young people to feel dignified about their periods. The design of the Palesa Reusable Sanitary Pads provides maximum protection against leakage. The shape provides a much larger surface area to absorb blood and protect you from having an embarrassing accident. One pad can be worn for up to eight hours depending on flow. The pad can be folded neatly and discreetly and taken home to wash with no smell in a school bag. If cared for correctly cloth pads can last up to five years.

Care tips: Soak in water after use – one pad next to another. Use laundry soap or detergent to remove the remaining marks. This should not require vigorous scrubbing as the fabric does not stain. Then soak in water with a bottle cap of white spirit vinegar for half an hour before hanging out to dry.

What to do at the end of its lifespan: Wash the pads properly and send them to a fabric recycling facility with other clothing.

Price range: R69 – R679. Available on their website and at Pick n’ Pay stores.



Blushproof - Eco-friendly period product

With a mission to change the narrative around menstruation whilst improving lives and reducing waste, Blushproof’s South African-designed and made period underwear ensures a comfortable fit for any menstruator whilst upholding high-quality standards and eco-conscious practices. This period underwear is just like normal underwear except that they have three extra layers sewn into the crotch area. These include a wicking layer to draw your flow away from your body, an absorbing layer to trap your flow, and a waterproofing layer to prevent any leaks. If you look after them properly, they can last for three years. Blushproof stock sizes ranging from tween age 10 to adult size 3XL and absorbances ranging from light to super absorption.

Care tips: Although hand washing is best, this isn’t always practical. That’s why giving them a quick rinse before popping them into a mesh laundry bag and then into the washing machine is ideal. Just remember, no fabric softener, bleach, tumble-drier, or iron.

What to do at the end of its lifespan: Wash the underwear properly and send them to a fabric recycling facility with other clothing.

Price range: R199 – R389 per pair, depending on the style, absorbency level, and size. Available on their website.


Aurora Wellbeing

Aurora Wellbeing - Eco-friendly period product

Aurora Wellbeing is a newly established wellness brand with a focus on holistic and conscious menstrual cycle care. For menstrual cup users, they have created the AURORA menstrual cup steriliser. Made from medical grade silicone for easy use, it is hassle-free, keeps your menstrual cup germ-free and the cup is foldable and compact for travelling.

How to use: Place your menstrual cup into the steriliser cup and fill it with water. Set your microwave to medium power level/wattage for 3-5 minutes. The water must be boiling for the disinfection to be effective. The cup’s lid should not be completely sealed to let steam escape. Allow the steriliser cup and menstrual cup to cool down inside the microwave before removing them. It is recommended that you sterilise your menstrual cup before and after you finish your period.

Price range: R169. Available on their website.


Aurora Wellbeing’s tips for sustainably discarding your menstrual products:

  • For menstrual cups, there are trade groups and companies online that can recycle or accept used cups. If your product is made from silicone, your local hospital or clinic may be able to dispose of it for you along with their other silicone medical instruments.
  • If your product is 100% natural rubber, it can be composted or buried in the garden to break down over time.
  • Cloth pads, liners, and panties can be taken or mailed to textile recycling facilities or turned into cleaning rags.
  • If these options are not possible, you can simply throw them in the regular garbage, though this option is not as sustainable. Learn more about Aurora Wellbeing here. 


  • Cover image: Safe Pad
  • Images: Supplied by brands
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