When I first got my period, I was presented with the two options of how I could “deal with” this: either insert a tampon, or tape a disposable pad into my undies.
I remember finding both ideas confronting. The tampons seemed an invasive concept; the disposable pads I could so easily draw a connection between them and a disposable nappy. Neither seemed an attractive option, but given there were no others, I succumbed to using what I could.
Sixty years ago, when my grandmother first got her period, she recalls:
“…we were to use a bulky cotton pad – wrapped in a netted outer that resembled a potato-sack hessian. The pad was kept in place by threading a belt through two loops at either end, and held up, like a girdle. If you were lucky enough to afford one, you could get one made from elastic that stayed up on its own. But most of us used pinned or hooked ones. Some pads were washable – this was the economical option. There were throw-away ones but during WWII not all of us could afford those. You did what you had to in order to get by…”
In contrast, I certainly consider the two options of disposable pads and tampons far more optimal than my grandmother’s.
However, today, on the other hand, as we live in a modern society which has overcome most of the stigma associated with women’s menstruation, there are more and more products aimed to serve the purpose.
As a globally-conscious society, we have also developed a consideration for ecology, economy and sustainability of our planet. We are aware of the need to reduce landfill and mass-production and the alarming lack of resources the world is facing. As a result, more products are becoming available – and favoured by some women – as an alternative to disposable products.
There is a far greater selection available to women today for dealing with their periods than ever! From washable cloth pads and tampons, to cup devices and sponges – all in addition to the disposable options we are used to.
The choice to “go green” when it comes to “the red” is a very personal one. What suits some will not necessarily suit others. Here is the reasoning behind why some women choose sustainable menstruation products.
It is undeniable that disposable pads and tampons contribute heftily to the planet’s landfill, not to mention that the majority of materials used in producing a disposable pad or tampon is derived from crude oil – a commodity known to be non-sustainable. For the eco-conscious among us, reusable menstruation products can provide an enviro-friendly alternative that resonates with their ethical and moral viewpoints.
If we break it down:
Women, on average, experience a lifetime menstruation span of 41 years. If a woman is using 4 tampons/pads per day, for 5 days per month, she is using 20 disposable products per cycle. Twelve cycles per year equals 240 tampons or pads per annum. That equates to close to 10,000 tampons or pads you’ll use – and throw away – in a lifetime!
Some women prefer the option of reusable menstrual products as the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome is significantly less than in disposable items. The materials used to make disposable items are a fantastic environment for bacteria: they love synthetics, such as rayon, and dioxins used as a bleaching agent in some disposable products. Furthermore, disposable products are not sterile as many women assume them to be. Some proponents for reusable products suggest they feel they have more control over the cleanliness of their items than their manufactured alternatives.
Another health-related aspect is that some women find they become irritated or have more instances of vaginitis, vaginosis or thrush when using synthetic products. Several of the reusable products available promote a “vagina-happy” atmosphere and can reduce or even eliminate these annoying irritations.
Truth be told, there is an up-front investment involved in purchasing reusable menstruation products. However, the ongoing cost is negligible compared to the recurring expense of purchasing disposable products.
Based on average, if you are to spend around $8.00 per cycle on disposable pads and/or tampons, once a month for approximately 41 years of your life, that’s an expense of close to $4,000 in a lifetime. Compared to an initial outlay of $100-200, and an ongoing laundry expense of approximately $0.75 for a load of washing (in the case of cloth pads/tampons), switching to reusable options can prove to be a financially-conservative option.READ MORE The Mysterious Case of Black Dahlia
To some, the idea of using reusable products is foreign, alarming or downright unattractive. To others, the benefits can outweigh the effort and confronting aspects of using reusable options. The choice is of course a highly personal one.