The o.b. Tampon Shortage: Eco-Conscious Alternatives

The o.b. shortage got people talking about the most environmentally sound ways to deal when that time of the month rolls around.

party in your pants pads

(Image credit: Courtesy of Party in Your Pants Pads)

As you may have heard by now, o.b. tampons — the non-applicator brand, with the least packaging — are in high demand and short supply due to a manufacturing glitch at the Johnson & Johnson plant, which has created a shortage on pharmacy shelves. Some of my friends were perturbed enough about the situation to post about it on Facebook, particularly the ones who feel like o.b. is vastly more environmentally friendly than its competitors.

That's certainly why o.b. used to be my favorite: I felt like buying those little guys meant I was contributing a tiny bit less to the mounds and mounds of garbage going to trash heaps every day (and thereby contributing less to global warming by giving the microbes that help to break refuse down — emitting methane as they do — less to work on).

But o.b.'s are pretty expensive — and considering each one is individually wrapped, and they come in a box, there was still plenty of packaging.

So I was pretty delighted when, earlier this month, I happened upon a far better underwear shield for the eco-conscious: Party in Your Pants pads. They're very attractive non-disposal pads, made out of patterned flannel or cotton, that fasten around your panty crotch with a clip, and stay in place far more securely than the average pad. When you take them off, you can turn them inside out and snap them up tight so that they turn into neat, clean little bundles that you could store in a bag if necessary. (This might sound gross, but having done it a few times now, I can assure you that it's not at all.) Washing them isn't hard. You could wait until you do laundry, or rinse them out by hand first. They're not at all bulky, and they're shockingly absorbent. They do not become odiferous. Treated right, they're supposed to last years. And considering most individual Party pads cost between $10 and $14, you're likely to save a lot of money over time.

Trust me, I was pretty apprehensive before I tried them. I thought there was no way they'd work well, no way they'd fit right, no way cleaning them wouldn't be gag-inducing. But they did, they do, and it wasn't. I feel great using them, not least because they just seem like a far better alternative for the earth than disposable cotton products. Even if they weren't, though, given how handy they are, and hassle-free, and nice to look at, I might just use them anyway.

So ladies, lemme know: Are you going to try them? Or are you still holding out for your supply of o.b. tampons?