Sensible people, be careful – BLOOD WARNING
(I mainly mean guys, since everything including menstruation will easily put you off- If not, then you are more than welcome to stay and read through)
For so long, we’ve been told than when it comes to our period, there are only two options: the expensive pads or the expensive tampons. Some might argue that it’s actually quite affordable and that I have nothing to moan about. But if, like me, you’re on a strict budget every month, struggling to make ends meet, then that £10 can make a difference.
But it’s not only that. Are pads and tampons really the only options? And are they sustainable? The answer is no. But they are the more common ones: they generate profits.
Menstruation is something women can not control, but yet, we have to pay for it. Fortunately for us, some women are changing the game. Women are asking for more options, and for the right to know what the hell they are putting inside their bodies.
While some are calling for FREE TAMPONS, and other, like in Wisconsin (NY), trying to introduce bills that would make sanitary free and available in restrooms and schools across their state, or Scotland making sanitary products free for people on low income to tackle ‘period poverty’, some are coming up with healthier, cheaper and more affordable alternatives.
So what are the other options then?
Periods are such personal affairs, but they also have environmental costs. On average, a woman will use between 11,000 and 17,000 tampons in her life, which is the equivalent of over 140kg of waste. Per period, every woman throws away around 20 disposable sanitary components. And here goes our waste free environment. For tampons, it takes over 450 years to decompose. Tampons are not recyclable, and pollution is a serious problem.
The menstrual cup
With the menstrual cup, periods become environmental friendly. One menstrual cup can replace up to 10 years worth of pads and tampons. It’s also chemical free (did you know than tampons and pads were full of harmful chemicals ?) and you are saving for years. They are really affordable, I bought mine for £15 online, and have been using it for now a year without problems.
The cups are made of reusable silicone using sustainable methods, and have a long lifetime. Some cups are meant to last for a maximum of 10 years. They are flexible and designed for use inside the vagina to collect menstrual blood, rather than absorbing it, in comparison to tampons or pads. Bye bye monthly expenses on sanitary items.
One of the best advantages of the menstrual cup is that you can go up to 12 hours (in comparison to the 8 hours of a tampon) before emptying it.
The cups are easy to use once you get your head around it. Remember, nothing good comes easy, and the first uses might not be as straightforward as you might expect. But practice always make good. And if menstrual cups are not for you, they are also other eco-friendly options available.
Other options include reusable period underpants. Also eco-friendly, they absorb your period blood and only require washing out. They are just like normal underwear and as thick as a swimming suit underpants. They contain an extra padding absorbing the menstrual blood. Holding up to 4 tampons’ worth depending on the brand you go for, they are pretty affordable, and will save you lots of money.
Cloth menstrual pads
Another great eco-friendly option are cloth menstrual pads. Often made of organic cotton, they can last for up to 10 years and cost around £10 per pad. Have a look online and you’ll see the choices are many. And don’t worry about the environmental costs when it’s time to get rid of them, most of them are made from all-natural materials so will decompose.
Menstruation is a concern that impacts girls and female’s health across the globe. In poorer countries, the impact is even greater. Girl’s menstruation is neglected. In India, 70% of women say their family cannot afford to buy sanitary pads and only 12% of women and girls use sanitary items.
This cultural taboo around period does nothing but lead to the refraining of discussion around what menstruation does to a woman’s body, what impact periods have on the environment, and what options are available, sustainable and actually more suitable. But it did help the disposable hygiene industry prosper.