Disposable Menstrual Products Contributing to the Climate Crisis

Photo by  Markus Spiske  on  Unsplash

In honour of the #climatestrikecanada that is happening now across this great land I would like to revisit how important your choice of product for managing your menstruation is. Each product we buy and use contributes to the greater human and planet condition. How you manage your monthly period is one way you can make a small but integral change for the better and if more women did so, the better it would be.

The traditional disposable products of sanitary napkins and tampons that many of us use are adding to the plastic problem every time we bleed. Just take a moment and think about the amount of garbage a single box of tampons or pads contain. The larger packaging is generally recyclable but the contents are not. Each tampon or pad may come wrapped in plastic and the tampon applicator may also be plastic. Unless you have a specified recycling bin in the washroom - which I have never seen anywhere in my life - the majority of these are going directly into the trash, not to mention the actual used tampon or pad (remember NEVER flush your tampons or pads down the toilet. NEVER).

I caution you to be discerning when choosing a menstrual product to manage your monthly flow. The average woman bleeds only about 3 tablespoons of blood each month. I think we can agree that’s not a whole heck of a lot and yet we tend to consume disproportionate amounts of product to manage this relatively small inconvenience.

Not only do traditional pads and tampons cost a fair amount of your hard earned money and you must keep restocking them over and over again but some are also made of nefarious materials that may cause health problems. Always check the ingredients on the box and if there is no list of ingredients, consider it toxic. Don’t you want to know what you’re putting inside or against the most delicate part of your body?

Alternatives do exist. They are called ReUsable Menstrual Products or RUMPS.

Rumps include menstrual sponges, menstrual cups, reusable cloth pads and menstrual underwear and a brief synopsis and examples of each are below.

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Menstrual Sponges are made of sea fibre that is an all-natural alternative to tampons in that they are inserted into the vagina and soak up the blood. One advantage of a sponge is that they conform to the individual’s body and thus are very comfortable once in place. Each sponge needs to be thoroughly rinsed and wrung out before insertion and will absorb for about 4 hours when it will need to be rinsed, wrung and reinserted or a new one used in its place. The bonus is that sponges are natural and contain no toxic chemicals that could harm you. The use of sponges is a learning curve (much like tampons and cups) but if you’re concerned about environmental waste then this could be the option for you.

Find sponges on Etsy or at JadePearl.com

Find sponges on Etsy or at JadePearl.com

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A menstrual cup is a little silicone rose-shaped cup that once inserted into the vagina it catches the blood of your period. The cup can remain in place for up to 12 hours before it will need to be emptied, rinsed and reinserted. 12 hours! That’s a full day of life. Wowza!

Our friends and favourite, the DivaCup, a Canadian company, is widely available and comes in 3 sizes and retails for about $29.99. One cup can last for up to 10 years. Imagine the money you can save! The hassle of running out of product will no longer be a problem AND you are helping save the world, one period at a time.

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Cloth pads are incredibly comfortable and can be personalized in an infinite variety of fabrics, pattern and sizes. The common cloth pad is made from cotton and is free from harmful chemical that may be found in traditional pads. Using cloth pads is better for the environment as there is no waste and easier on your budget as you simply reuse your cleaned supply every month. Without a doubt there is more work required when using cloth pads because in order to reuse them you must quickly rinse them in cold water and eventually wash and dry them before reusing. This takes time and effort. You have to ask yourself if you’re the type of woman who walks the walks and does all the little things that grow your integrity. They might prove to be a bit tricky if you have a heavy flow and need to change them often but all the negatives can be easily resolved with a little ingenuity and determination. You can custom order or make your own pads and really be in control. You can unleash your creativity with the colour and pattern of the fabric you choose and change the absorbency potential of each one by adding or deleting the layers in the middle. You can have butterfly themed pads for light days and watermelon ones for the first few heavy days. Heck, invite your crafty friends over and have a pad making and swapping party. Here is a link to a sight that offer a tutorial and pattern to make your own. Happy sewing!

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This category is the newest in the marketplace and one that I personally have not tried but would love to hear from anyone who has their honest opinion on the effectiveness of them. The general idea is that instead of adding a pad to your underwear, the pad is built right into the gusset of the panties themselves. This means that you can just wash and wear them again like you would regular underwear and although the initial cost might be quite steep, you will be set for a year or more. Brands like Knix, Lunapads and Thinx all offer different sizes, colours and styles. For example, Knix offers leakproof underwear for light days or as a back-up for peace of mind while Lunapads states their underwear can hold 2 tampons worth of blood.

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I urge you to really have a long hard think about what you use for your period every month. The fact that periods are a repetitive business means that whatever product(s) you use will be habitual and the ramifications of them might be as heavy as your flow. By choosing an option with little to no waste you will be making the world and your period environmentally friendlier and isn’t that empowering?

Photo by  Ross Findon  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

Fleabag Womyn

On my recent summer holiday to the UK I was made aware of the brilliant series ‘Fleabag’ on an Air Canada flight as it was on a recommended list. The premise sounded promising so I quickly tuned in and promptly fell in love with Phoebe Waller-Bridge and her outrageous creative writing skills and acting chops.

I have since devoured like a carnivore returning from a vegan retreat the entire 12 eposides that comprise both seasons and can’t recommend them highly enough. Consider yourself forewarned though that there is a lot of R rated contented riddled throughout each episode including foul language, sexuality, scenes of nudity, smoking scenes, blasphemous scenes and dialogue so fast and witty it might make you dizzy.

This show is not for the timid or easily offended as it is rife with shocking and boundary pushing humour with a huge side dish of heart. Waller-Bridge wrote and acts in this 2 season series and she is a revelation. Also included in the cast are Academy Award Winner Olivia Coleman, Andrew Scott, Sian Clifford and the supremely talented Helen Scott Thomas delivering an epiphany that opens Fleabags hopes for the future.

For a little snippet of what to expect whilst also adding some positive verbiage to “THE MENOPAUSE”, please enjoy this video. I’ve watched it at least a dozen times and each time it fills me with glee. I hope it does the same for you ;)

Self-Care September

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Well we find ourselves once again in the lovely month of September. It truly is one of my favourite months as September is like an friend who you haven’t seen for a while but brings a whole party worth of gifts; like sunshine and warmth that is a bit cooler now therefore much more enjoyable than the oppressive heat of earlier summer months, the bounty of so much hard work in the fields is greater than any other month of the year here in beautiful Ontario where I live. According to the website OntarioFarmFresh.com there are no fewer than 28 fruits and vegetables ready for eating now which makes September the month with the most. In zetabetical order the crops that are mature and ripe are: tomatoes, squash, raspberries, pumpkins, potatoes, plums, peppers, peas, pears, peaches, onions, nectarines, melon, lettuce, grapes, garlic, eggplant, cucumber, corn, celery, cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, blueberries, beats, beans, and apples. Wow huh?! September is also that most beloved of months, especially for mothers, when children go back to school and the regular world resumes again relaxed and happy after the summer holidays. Please be sure to remember this on Tuesday and take extra care and watch out for students when driving.

Many others on the internet have shared their ideas for the concept of making September self-care month. I like that intention and have created a fun and manageable self-care September calendar. The gist of this self-care calendar is to remind you to take a few moments every day doing something that enriches your life in some small way.

Tracking your menstrual cycle can be considered an act of self-care but why stop there? Care for yourself a little bit each and every day and you just may find that your life is a beautiful necklace made up of lovely moments.

Many of these don’t cost money but are paid for with the currency that is more valuable; your time.

I hope you find this calendar helpful and please feel free to print and share it and/or if you have any suggestions or comments, as always, I am eager to hear them.

Since today is the first of September I am going to take my own advice and enjoy and long, hot and luxurious bubble bath. Won’t you do the same darling?

Posted on September 1, 2019 .