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Forget tampons. Eco-friendly products are now the period problem Natalia Angulo-Hinkson
Economics & Business#freetheperiod

WATCH  | Tampons may be on the way out because younger consumers don't think they're eco-friendly.

Not wearing a tampon or pad during your period is a real thing now. Dead serious.

And it's a trend that's going mainstream, popularized by people like M.I.A. drummer Kiran Gandhi (aka Madame Gandhi), who ran the London Marathon whilst free bleeding.

"I thought, if there’s one person society won’t f**k with, it’s a marathon runner," Gandhi wrote in a blog post about the race on her website. "I ran to say, it does exist, and we overcome it every day."

Here's a picture of Gandhi during her famous marathon run.

But even if the idea of free flowing is too much for you, there's still a growing number of younger consumers looking to more budget-conscious and eco-friendly alternatives.

Sure, a majority of women still rely on tampons, but the demands for these products are changing. And that's boosting the market for reusables like menstrual cups, period-proof underwear and homemade cloth pads.

So much that it's shaking up the $5.9 billion feminine hygiene U.S. retail market.

Let's do the math.

The average woman has 500 menstrual cycles in her lifetime over 39 years. If each box of tampons costs about $8 (on the low end), if you buy even eight boxes a year, that's $64, or about $2,500 over a lifetime.

Pads are a little cheaper, but compare that to reusable items that only need to be purchased once a year, and the dollars add up.

Menstrual cups, which cost about $40, and period panties, which retail around $30, add up to about $1,000 in savings.

For menstrual cup newbies, this is what a DivaCup branded cup looks like.

If the cost savings aren't enough, there's the impact on the environment.

According to Elissa Stein's book, "Flow: The Cultural History of Menstruation," the average woman throws out nearly 300 pounds of sanitary products in her life. What's worse is that the plastic feminine hygiene waste can take years to break down in landfills.

Women today want to know the products they buy make a difference to the environment and destigmatize periods. Thinx, for example, says it has sold over half a million period panties -- that absorb blood and neutralize odor -- since it debuted in 2015.

At a time when girls are encouraged to embrace their femininity, these products are helping make period talk less taboo.