Are you a savvy woman intent on greening your life? Do you drive a hybrid car or bypass vehicles all together and take public transportation? Do you have your house well-insulated and solar panels on your roof? Do you shun clothing made at overseas factories and instead buy 100% natural cotton clothing? Do you grow your own food in your garden and buy the rest locally from farmers? If so, you’re well on your way to reducing your carbon footprint and protecting the Earth.
But have you considered greening your feminine hygiene items?
Yes, I’m about to go there, to that topic that makes most women squeamish–reusable feminine hygiene items.
Ugghh, right? Is that what you’re thinking? If so, you’re not alone.
Well, you might change your mind once you learn the facts.
How Long Have Disposable Feminine Products Been Around?
Disposable pads have been around for nearly 100 years now, but they were thick, clunky and didn’t stay in place. The adhesive strip that keeps them in place wasn’t added until the 1980s. That means for centuries, women have been using reusable cloth pads. To our ancestors, cloth pads were just a way of life, not worthy of the ick factor they now get.
Disposable tampons have been around a bit longer, in a variety of forms across cultures. In times long ago, there are reports that some women used grass internal to collect the blood (talk about an ick factor!) and Dr. Earle Cleveland Haas, who invented the Tampax tampon, got the idea when a woman told him that she used a sponge internally to collect the blood (Tampax).
The Health Dangers of Disposable Feminine Products
Most women have heard of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), a rare condition that can occur if a woman does not change her tampon frequently. TSS can give a person flu-like symptoms including a high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches and dizziness. In some cases it can be fatal (Tampax).
However, what many women have likely not heard of is dioxin. Dioxin, which is a known carcinogen, is used to bleach the tampons. It’s also a cause of cancer. In addition, remnants of the tampon may adhere to the vaginal wall, which can cause discomfort and possible medical issues.
The Environmental Dangers of Disposable Feminine Products
If you’re not concerned about the health dangers of tampons and pads, consider the environmental cost. On average, according to Diva Cup, a women menstruates for 40 years. If she uses 20 tampons per cycle, she will use 9,600 during her entire menstrual life cycle. Consider all of the women in the United States and Canada alone using disposable feminine products, and you can see that the environmental impact is huge.
Alternatives to Disposable Feminine Products
There are plenty of alternatives to disposable pads and tampons. Just search Etsy for cloth menstrual pads, and you will find that there are many sellers. Most of these pads cost $5 to $10 a piece. If you invest in 10 of them, you’ll pay $50 to $100. You’ll easily recoup the cost in 6 months because you’ll no longer have to buy disposable pads.
Cloth pads are easy to take care of. Most women just rinse them and then wash them with their regular load of laundry.
There are also many eco-friendly options for tampons. Companies like The Keeper and The Diva Cup, to name just a few, produce a reusable “cup” made of silicone that can contain more menstrual fluid than most tampons, so it only needs to be emptied twice a day. The cup lasts for 10 years. Imagine the environmental and financial savings of only buying 4 cups total during your entire menstrual life! At approximately $40 each, you’ll only pay $160 over 40 years. Compare that to the boxes upon boxes of tampons you must buy over 40 years!
Have you ever tried these eco-friendly feminine hygiene products? If not, would you be willing to try or is the ick factor too hard to overcome?
I live in developing country, when I was teenager I was so poor that I cannot afford to buy pad, so I use old cloth and use it as pad. I am embarrassed to admit this but now that I am grown up and able to buy those pad I am very grateful that my financial life improve over time. I know that a lot of women in my country still cannot afford to buy pad.
I had never considered the alternatives honestly. Very interesting!
I have been using tampons for close to 20 years, even when I was still a virgin. NEVER had any problems. I would not touch a pad unless it’s after going through childbirth and I’m not yet allowed to get back into using tampons. Never had any TSS, changed them frequently and was even able to have a regular life during those days (including sports and going out). 🙂
I use a cup and it has been great, especially when I am traveling, it helps keep the packing light and some places don’t have tampons in every shop. Some friends tell me they are grossed out by having to touch it but it is much cleaner than cloth or cotton gathering bacteria.
DivaCup and SoftCup (at CVS or Walgreens) are both great alternative options that I’ve tried.