HAVING AN ECO-FRIENDLY PERIOD: why I switched to using a menstrual cup
Have you ever thought about the quantity of sanitary pads and/or tampons you have used and will have to use in your lifetime? Have you ever wondered what they’re made of and where they end up? If you haven’t, it’s a good time you start thinking about it because it ain’t pretty.
- The average woman will use around 11,000 pads and tampons in her lifetime
- Feminine-care product manufacturers aren't required to disclose what's in their products, which often includes traces of dioxin (a known carcinogen) from bleaching, pesticide residues from conventional, non-organic cotton, and mysterious "fragrance" ingredients*
- Conventionally grown cotton relies heavily on the use of agro-chemicals**
- 20 billion used menstrual products end up in the landfill each year in North America
- The time it takes for a pad of tampon to degrade in a landfill is centuries longer than the lifespan of the woman who used it
To be honest, I just started using the “Cup” about a year ago. Before that, I was using organic cotton tampons and pads whenever I could, but it wasn’t always easy when there wasn’t a Whole Foods or other health store around to find them. I've gotten so used to looking at ingredients when buying packaged food, and I looked for some sign of ingredients, especially when it came to "fragrances," but I could find none on conventional pads and tampons. So organic pads was definitely the way to go.
However, I was still feeling pretty wasteful, using so many disposable pads... plus, they're relatively expensive. So, I finally decided to buy a DivaCup after inspecting it multiple times in stores, and it's one of the best decisions I’ve made! Especially if I want to walk the talk and make my cycle more eco-friendly.
Why I like using the Cup:
- I’ve become more in tune with my cycle: with the different qualities and quantities of my flow
- You only have to change it twice a day! (I do when I wake up and before going to bed)
- It should last me about 10 years
Sure, it takes a little bit getting used to inserting and removing the cup. And I would not recommend trying it in public bathrooms since you should rinse the cup between uses (although it is possible). It's totally doable, and you'll feel relieved at the amount of waste you'll be reducing!
Another product I began using very recently are cloth pads. I bought some I found in Auroville, India. The brand is EcoFemme and they're totally awesome! --good for my body, good for the earth, and a socially responsible business.
They're really comfortable, soft and absorbent. The downside with cloth pads is that you have to wash them by hand and dry them after every use. It can be time-consuming and labor-intensive, but I still think it beats the alternative of buying and wasting (on repeat). ;)
It seems like everyday we're bombarded with bad news about pretty much all the things we use and do on a daily basis... and that's ok! The world's pretty F'd up and it's good to be aware of it. But now that you know, don't just turn a blind eye and continue business as usual. You have the power to stop using those nasty products and make the switch to products that are better for the environment and safer for your body as well.
In summary, here are some ways you can make your period more eco-friendly:
1. Organic, unbleached pads and tampons free of toxic chemicals and pesticides (Seventh Generation, Natracare, plus others) --still DISPOSABLE and WASTEFUL, but a good start and better than exposing yourself to potentially harmful chemicals and synthetic materials found in conventional pads and tampons
2. Cloth pads (LunaPads plus other brands or DIY)
3. Silicone and rubber menstrual cups (DivaCup, other brands also out there) --MOST SUSTAINABLE OPTION and will save you money in the long-run
4. I've also briefly run across using sea sponges as tampons and using padded panties (THINX), but I haven't tried them or read enough about them to comment...
Whatever you decide to do, please STOP BUYING CONVENTIONAL PADS! They are a multi-billion dollar industry and they do not care about your health or the planet. Switching to organic pads and tampons is easiest, but really consider using washable and reusable menstrual pads and cups, that's the best choice you can make.
With light & love,
For more information, I would recommend watching the video below, which shows the nasty smoke produced when burning a conventional pad vs clean smoke for an organic one...
Disposable tampons aren't sustainable, but do women want to talk about it? https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/apr/27/disposable-tampons-arent-sustainable-but-do-women-want-to-talk-about-it
DivaCup FAQ https://lunapads.com/learn/tips/divacup
Green Period: 4 Eco-Friendly Vegan Period Products that will Change Your Life http://www.theveganwoman.com/green-period-5-eco-friendly-vegan-period-products-will-change-life/