I have a friend who started using the menstrual cup many years ago, long before it become a popular trend. I briefly looked into it but it all seemed a little complicated. As menstrual cups started gaining momentum I kept seeing them in all my feeds, so I researched a little more and eventually took the plunge and invested in the My Own Menstrual Cup earlier this year.
It is almost pointless to say but I do wish I had made the switch earlier. Not just for the environmental benefits but it just makes a rather unpleasant time a little better.
The Environmental Impact of Disposable Sanitary Products
- A person will go through approximately 11,000 disposable pads and/or tampons in a lifetime. Now imagine that number if you consider ALL of the women in the world. That is a LOT of disposable pads and tampons.
- Tampons, pads and panty liners and all the associated packaging in excess of 200,000 tonnes of waste per year.
- Pads contain 90% plastic!
- The average user will throw away 125 to 150kg of tampons, pads and applicators in their lifetime and this waste ends up in landfills and our oceans.
- The manufacturing process of these products is both resource and chemical intensive.
- A year’s worth of disposable period products leave a carbon footprint of 5.3 kg CO2 equivalents.
Not only are these products very damaging to the environment, they are made from a range of chemicals that companies, legally do not have to disclose. Sanitary products are considered medical devices and as such manufacturers do not have to disclose the “ingredients” used to make them. If you consider where these products go and the sensitive tissue they are exposed to, it doesn’t make sense to not check exactly what they are made from, right?
Most tampons and pads contain bleached or nonorganic cotton, rayon or wood pulp. Nonorganic cotton and rayon both contain pesticides and herbicides, including diuron and dioxin. The Environmental Protection Agency has said that diuron is a likely carcinogen and the World Health Organization has linked the toxin dioxin to immune system suppression, reproductive problems and cancer. It could be argued that the amounts in each product are so small the can not cause harm, but a lifetime of regular exposure could.
A great sustainable alternative to these disposable products is a menstrual cup. Menstrual cups are generally made from silicone which is a little kinder to the environment and more importantly a menstrual cup is not designed for once off use, it can last years.
Benefits of the Menstrual Cup
- Say goodbye to buying pads/tampons every month. This means not last minute dashes to the shops because you have run out of pads.
- As a result of this you will eventually start saving money. I paid R250 for my menstrual cup, which is the same as a couple of months of pads.
- They last longer and are way more comfortable. The cup definitely lasts a long longer than a pad/tampon – even the super large ones. And it is a lot more comfortable. A normal tampon generally holds between six and nine grams of liquid while your menstrual cup can hold up to one ounce – 5 times more than the tampon.
- They are chemical free.
- Sleeping is a lot more comfortable. Because your cup can hold a lot more liquid, sleeping is a lot more comfortable and you don’t have to stress about leaks or get up to change pads/tampons.
- They do come in a few sizes to accommodate everyone.
- They are reusable. One cup will last years!
Kiara and I use the My Own Menstrual Cup that I got from the Refillery but there are a lot of different brands out there for you to consider. The cups are a lot easier to use than you may assume and once you are in the swing of things you will wonder why you never made this decision sooner!
Have you made the switch to a menstrual cup yet? If not what is putting you off?