Let’s face the facts. The biggest difference between men and women is reproduction and all that it entails. Reproductive organs and the body parts designed to sustain the lives we create are the only biological difference between the genders. That difference allows women to conceive and bear children. That ability also comes with a menstrual cycle. So, about every month women need to manage their menstrual cycles. Though this is unavoidable, you can change how you manage it!
In a lifetime, the average American women will dispose of about fifteen thousand sanitary pads and/or tampons, translating into about three hundred pounds of waste. There are almost one hundred million menstruating women in the United States, so that means that each year American women will add about twelve billion pads and seven million tampons plus the packaging for the products into landfills. Undoubtedly, not all feminine hygiene products end up in the trash. The Center for Marine Conservation collects more than one-hundred-and-seventy-thousand tampon applicators each year.
The problem with conventional feminine hygiene products is that they pose health and environmental threats. Tampons and sanitary pads are bleached with chemicals that can be absorbed into the body. There is also the hazard of toxic shock syndrome. Used feminine hygiene products end up in the water systems (if flushed) and in the landfills (if disposed of). The good news, is that there are alternatives that don’t carry the burden of health risks and environmental pollution!
Menstrual cups are a great alternative. Basically, a menstrual cup is a small, reusable cup that is inserted into the vagina near the cervix. The cup then collects menstrual fluids. After a few hours, you take it out, empty and wash it then reuse the same cup. The great thing about menstrual cups is that they can be used for up to ten years (drastically cheaper than purchasing feminine hygiene products each month). They are made of either latex or silicone and have no risk of toxic shock syndrome.
Reusable pads are another alternative. Reusable pads are usually made with hemp terry cloth, polar fleece or soft flannel and come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Most reusable pads have some kind of moisture-proof barrier to prevent leaks and can be attached to underwear with velcro or snaps. Basically, you attach the pad to your underwear and wear it for a few hours. Then, you replace the pad with a new reusable pad. The pad that you remove is then washed, dried and reused. Reusable pads are comfortable, soft and are absorbent as well. They are easy to use, have no toxic chemicals, and like menstrual cups, only need to be purchased once or twice throughout your lifetime. The one drawback, is that used pads must be stored until they can be washed, so you’ll need to carry a waterproof bag in your purse.
There is a final alternative: organic, disposable feminine products. There are many brands that are completely chemical-free and made of natural-sustainable materials! Regardless of which you choose, all of these products are healthier for you and for the environment.
Click here to purchase eco-friendly feminine hygiene products from EnviroCitizen.org.