Our family has made many life style changes in order to live more sustainably — from reusable coffee cups, water bottles, cloth sandwich bags, cloth grocery store bags, hemp paper goods, biodegradable dish and laundry soaps, rain harvesting and grey water systems, to growing our produce and composting. We are doing our best, and continuing our education to further our skills and assist others on their path to green living. I even have been making my own salt scrubs and other body care products; however, I still had contributed every month to the countless pads and the tampon waste that ends up in landfills each year. The average woman will use 270 tampons/pads a year — that’s around 10,000 in one lifetime! Of course, I used organic cotton feminine products but they are still wasteful and unnecessary, and there are menstrual product alternatives that not only save money every month, but also completely eliminate this waste.
The practicality and convenience of anything disposable doesn’t make much sense to me anymore, especially since we have options. So I decided to get myself “The Diva Cup.” This alternative to pads or tampons is made from top quality silicone, is latex free and is very comfortable. The cup comes in two sizes: #1 for women under 30 who never have given birth and #2 for women over 30 who have. This little soft silicone cup folds to insert and, once in, opens up in place, making it virtually undetectable. It’s perfect for hiking, yoga, swimming — any activity or outfit. Of course, once I put it in, my first thought was “How hard will it be to get it out?” Unlike the tampon, which has a string for removal, the Diva Cup has only a small stem to grab hold of; so in order to remove it, you must squat or sit on the edge of a toilet and push a few times to bring the cup down a bit, then reach for the stem with your thumb and index finger and gently pull out. I must admit that this procedure was a little intimidating, but I got the hang of it quite quickly and it’s very much worth the effort. Surprisingly, it is not messy and collects the flow. I also did not experience any leaks even though I used it for several hours before emptying. The Diva Cup can be worn for up to 12 hours or overnight. However, when I used it overnight, removal took me a little longer than desired, which of course discouraged me a bit, so I prefer reusable pads during the night and am very pleased to have a menstrual cup for practicing yoga or on busy days.
I am normally a lot more gentle with myself when it’s that time of the month so reusable pads are my preference. I use a couple during the day, wash them at night and it’s done — a small investment for a lifetime of environmental benefits. There are many shapes, fabrics and colors to choose from. I like organic and fair trade cotton or bamboo pads. I recently ordered some colorful pads and liners for my teen age daughter who recently began menstruating. The fun prints and colors make the reusable alternative more appealing. I really do believe that the next generation of women can make a huge environmental difference in our world. The shockingly high number of feminine hygiene product waste that is dumped every year in land fills and coast lines demands our attention and appropriate action. Practical disposable products are appealing because who wants to wash and dry pads at the end of a busy day when she can dump the everything and — period — literally — that’s the end of it, right? Well, we know it’s not. We may not see where our waste will end up, but we cannot remain blissfully ignorant for very much longer. Whether we are switching to reusable diapers, pads, bags, napkins …. etc., every responsible change requires time, money and effort. We are making these choices not because they are easier or practical, but rather because we are taking responsibility for ourselves and the environment to the best of our ability, based on the information we have.
So, ladies, if you feel inspired please spread the word and share this information: