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Let’s talk menstruation. Most of us try to avoid thinking about it more than absolutely necessary, but I hope we can get past that. It’s an important subject that deserves a whole lot more light to be shed on it.
I hope that you don’t make the same mistake I did. I didn’t even know there were things like menstrual cups, and reusable cloth pads until I was in my 30’s. I just went to the store, and bought the same brand of tampons and pads, month after month, after month. I have some serious regret about this!
I’m going to tell you about some eco-friendly period options, but first I’ll give you a few reasons why you might consider making the switch.
Did You Know that Tampons Contain Toxins?
Pads and tampons contain trace amounts of pesticides and chemicals from the cotton, as well as the manufacturing process (bleaching agents are particularly bad). Manufacturing companies aren’t required to disclose what’s in their products because they’re classified as “medical devices” by the FDA.
Although there are only trace amounts of toxins in pads or tampons, repeated exposure to it is thought to have some serious side effects, including cancer. Scary stuff. What’s even scarier is how most people don’t know about it.
Pads = So much Plastic
People will use between 11,000 and 16,000 tampons over the course of a lifetime. And of course, you have to add pads and panty liners on top of that. It’s a lot of waste that goes directly into the landfill because these products, by their nature, can’t really be recycled effectively. Pads are largely plastic, which doesn’t biodegrade.
Save Thousands of Dollars over a Lifetime
The last reason you might make the switch is because disposable menstrual care are expensive. Most people spend $5-10 per month on disposable pads and tampons. If you have a heavy or long period, you might spend even more. There are two kinds of eco-friendly menstrual options: Menstrual Cups and Cloth Menstrual Pads.
1. Menstrual Cups
A menstrual cup is an eco-friendly period option that can replace thousands of tampons. The best part about menstrual cups is that they’re reusable and can last for up to 10 years. Just make sure you look after it properly to get the maximum use out of it. The top-quality cups are made from medical grade silicone that won’t leach chemicals into your bloodstream. Although the up-front cost of menstrual cups is higher, at around $30 USD, you’ll save lots of money over the medium to long-term when compared with disposable products.
Finally, menstrual cups are great for the environment. They can last for up to 10 years, and replace thousands of pads or tampons. They can often be recycled when you’re done with them, depending on where you live. Amazing! If you have a look on Amazon, you’ll see an astounding array of options for menstrual cups. Check out this menstrual cup comparison chart for help in choosing the best one.
2. Cloth Menstrual Pads
The next eco-friendly option I’ll talk about is cloth menstrual pads. They are similar to disposable pads, but they’re made mostly from natural materials including bamboo, charcoal and cotton. Although slightly less absorbent than disposables, they still work quite well.
Cloth pads have the same money-saving potential as menstrual cups. They also are far less harmful for our Earth than disposable pads, which are mostly plastic. After washing them, it’s another way to have a chemical-free period experience.
See these Cloth Pad FAQ’s for all the details you need to know about them.
Want to Make the Switch to Eco-Friendly Period Options?
Are you ready to make the switch from disposable pads and tampons to reusable options instead? We’re happy that you are! You’re well on your way to a healthier, cheaper, and environmentally friendly period experience.
If you’re looking to buy your first menstrual cup, an excellent place to start is this menstrual cup quiz. Five easy questions, a couple minutes of your time, and then you’ll get a recommendation for the best cup for your body type. For cloth pads, the best place to have a look is on Amazon. There are so many more choices than you can find in your local store, and prices are excellent. For cloth pads, I love the Wegreeco, and Dutchess brands.
Jackie Bolen is a tree-hugging, friend of the Earth that can often be found on top of a mountain, catching a wave, or drinking organic coffee around Vancouver, Canada. Her hope is that a reusable menstrual care product will one day be found in the hands of every single menstruating person in the world. You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.