This one is for the women only

This week’s column is for specifically the ladies out there. I have been contemplating writing about this for a while, and I finally decided to do it. This week, I want to discuss the waste involved with “that time of the month.” If you consider all the women in the world and how much is thrown away monthly, it adds up to a LOT of unnecessary waste. That’s right, it’s unnecessary.  

An average woman will use between 5,000 and 15,000 pads and/or tampons in her lifetime. And we all know the actual product is not just the problem: tampons and pads are usually packaged with plastic wrap and a plastic applicator (it is not easy to find the original, cardboard applicators these days). Pads incorporate even more plastic as they are made with a leak-proof base and other synthetic materials. The cardboard packaging boxes they are sold in create more paper waste.

As women, how can we avoid this? I have the answer: A menstrual cup. I know when I first heard about this and considered it about 10 years ago, I was like “no way.” However, after doing research on it, I opened my mind a bit and decided to try it back then, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. 

Ladies, hear me when I tell you that the cup is a million times easier than using disposable products. First, you can leave it in up to 12 hours so that right there is a game changer. You are also much less likely to develop toxic shock syndrome, which is a risk when using tampons. With a cup, you wake up, deal with it, and you’re set for 12 hours! You don’t need to remember to put any products in your purse. You don’t have to worry about being in another bathroom and having to throw anything away. That is honestly my favorite part: no more disgusting trash, and no more counting hours during the day.

It is also cost effective. The prices are generally around $30 to $40. A cup can last up to 10 years (they’re made of soft silicone) and so it will absolutely save you money. No more running out of supplies and having to run to the store.

The first use of the cup can be a small adjustment, but if you currently use tampons, the switch to this is very easy. There is a health benefit as well: the material tampons are made with can contain chemicals and toxins, which you are exposing your body to with every use. The hardest part of using the cup is actually not hard at all: It needs to be boiled for about 20 minutes once a month to clean it after your cycle and before your next.

Going on vacation and worried you’ll get your period? You have only one thing to pack. And while you’re on vacation, you have to deal with it only twice a day. Most cup brands sell two different sizes, so please make sure you do your research before purchasing. A general guideline is women who are under 30 and have not had children should get the small size and women over 30 or those who have given birth should get the large. There are also a lot of brands so read some blogs and reviews, there are plenty of opinions out there for you to make an educated purchase.

If you are still not interested in the cup, there are many alternatives out now. There is period-proof underwear that you can wash and reuse. Reusable pads are also gaining in popularity. In any case, I urge you to do a little research to find out the best alternative for you, and go for it! You alone are able save thousands of feminine products from ending up in the landfill.

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Volume 13, Issue 6, Posted 10:26 AM, 03.16.2021