With the health of the planet (and yourself) in mind, when your next monthly visit rolls around, here are some important pieces of information to keep in mind and ways to take a healthier approach to your period.

1. Eliminate waste.

Almost 20 billion pads, tampons and applicators are dumped into landfills each year, and the average woman uses more than 11,000 tampons in her lifetime. Simply said: That’s a whole lot of unnecessary waste. Instead of relying on pads and tampons, menstrual cups and reusable pads or underpants are a lot more environmentally friendly. Many organic pads and tampons are compostable and plastic-free, too.

2. Go totally organic.

Conventional pads contain dioxins, synthetic fibers, additives and plastic chemicals, which can lead to heart disease, cancer, organ damage and much more. Organic tampons and pads, however, avoid these harmful chemicals and let you bleed worry-free.

3. Buy unscented.

Pads and tampons often contain fragrances that can lead to yeast and other bacterial infections. Vaginas are self-cleaning and do not need the help of douches or other flowery-scented items to keep them “fresh.” Reusable pads and menstrual cups can help cut back on exposure to excess bacteria.

4. Be careful of white.

Tampons and pads are bleached to look white and “clean” using chlorine, which can lead to toxic dioxin. The EPA has ruled dioxin as a serious health threat with no safe level of exposure. Chemicals are more easily absorbed through skin, and the vagina is thin-skinned, increasing your risk of contact.