How to have an eco-friendly period

Posted: November 19, 2010 in Uncategorized
A tampon applicator

Image by Benimoto via Flickr

In our consumerist, throwaway society, we often don’t stop to think about the true amount of waste we produce.  The packaging our goodies come in is mind-boggling, when you add it all up.  Think about all the plastic grocery bags that end up ind the trash.  Think about all the cigarette butts littering the streets and filling up landfills.  Think about the food that gets thrown in the trash instead of composted where it can clog up landfills.  It’s sad and overwhelming at times, so much so that we often don’t think about our own complicity.

Here’s one way a woman can reduce her trash output; stop using tampons and pads!  Every woman is different, but those of us in our child-bearing years go through hundreds of tampons or pads each year.  They all get thrown away.  (Unless you compost your tampons, which I know little about.  Still, tampons are made of cotton, which is not a green crop.  And the mainstream ones are bleached, which may not be good for you.)  Think of how many you use on a typical period.  Multiply that by 12.  That’s your early impact.  Then imagine all the women you know using and throwing away all those products at that rate.  It’s shocking, and we can do something about it!

According to the Keeper website, a typical year might look like this and would cost $48:

Holy frijoles, Batman! Image via

My personal favorite option is the silicone Moon Cup from the Keeper people, a menstrual cup.  Imagine a little wine goblet made of flexible rubber or silicone.  You put it inside you, kind of like a tampon.  It creates a seal, and it collects everything.  Then you just pour it out into the toilet periodically, rinse with hot water throughout your period, and then store it away to be used the next time.  There are several different brands, including Diva Cup,  Lunette, and Soft Cup.  I have a silicone cup from Keeper, which, as far as I can tell, is the original menstrual cup, but I’m sure other women have had good luck with other brands.  The Moon Cup (and Keeper) sell on the site for $37, including shipping.

I adore my Moon Cup.  First of all, it is incredibly comfortable, unlike a dry, yucky tampon or a hot, confining disposable pad.  I just pop it in there and don’t think about it much.  I think it’s good and interesting to see how much you actually bleed, rather than just guessing by how many disposable products you used that month.

I’ve had my Moon Cup for over two years now, and I haven’t had any major spills or accidents; a couple wayward drops the first couple days of my period can happen, but no more than I experienced with tampons or pads.  On those first couple days, I admit that I sometimes use a small pantyliner in addition to the cup.  Nevertheless, I spend a lot less money than I would if I was buying tampons every month.  I’d guess I’m down to 3 or 4 little pantyliners each period, so I’m saving a lot of money

Another big plus is that menstrual cups last a long time!  The original packaging with my Moon Cup said that it should last me ten years with proper care, unless I have kids and need to buy a different size.  Ten years!  Imagine having a magical box of tampons that gives you a whole clean set each month.  It’s like that.  My own little eco-friendly tampon fairy.

For those of us who might not want to insert something, why not consider a reusable pad?  There are some really stylish and cute ones out there.  I can’t really recommend any techniques or brands over the others, since I’m a Moon Cup gal, but I’m thinking of getting some as backup for my first couple days.  To all you vegans out there, just make sure that if they use fleece that it’s synthetic.  Bonus Radigan points if you make your own!  If, like me, you can’t sew, I’d check out and give your money to some crafty lady.  There are some adorable pads out there!  I just want to give them to every gal I know for the holidays!

Do what you can, and spread the word.  Then you can avoid leaving this behind you:

30-40 years worth of tampons! Image via

  1. fashionfrugals says:

    I love this blog. Thank you for writing on mine. My friend has the moon cup and she said it’s great. I am still afraid to use it, but I will try to go over my fears.

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