Thursday, January 27, 2011

Green Alternatives: Feminine Hygiene

Green Alternatives is a series that shows you the green alternatives to normally wasteful/toxic products. I use all of the featured products in my own home. I am not being paid to endorse any of the products in this series, I just really like them! In my opinion, a green alternative falls into at least 2 of these categories:
     1. They contain no toxic chemicals/fragrances/etc
2. They are reusable and/or eliminate/reduce the amount of waste normally produced with their counterpart
     3. They contain less or no plastic
     4. They are produced by ethical companies who care about my health and the environment

Ok, so just a bit of a warning. To any men who may read this blog, the following post may just be a bit too much for you, as I will be writing about tampons and pads. So feel free to skip this post, but while you're here, why don't you forward it to the women in your life?

Anyways. Tampons and pads are one of the most wasteful products women use. We menstruate monthly, and have been taught from an early age that it is something we need to control, hide, and mask. We have millions of products to help us with this, including tampons, pads, and wipes. The main concern with the companies that provide us with these products seems to be how to make their products discreet, feminine, scented, and basically as far away from natural as possible. Tampons now have colourful plastic applicators attached to them, are wrapped in colourful plastic wrappers, and can come in a variety of scents, to mask that horrible odour that eminates from all women once per month. Give me a break. Both tampons and pads are usually bleached with chlorine, creating a biproduct called Dioxin, a highly toxic, possibly cancer causing chemical that is known to impair the reproductive and immune systems. Tampons also typically contain chemically treated rayon to help increase absorption. These chemicals leech into the vaginal tissues, and can cause ulceration,dryness, and possibly long term health problems. And after it's all siad and done, we just flush them down the toilet, and chuck their nasty packaging into a landfill, where they will sit for the next thousand years.

So why do we use these things? Because they are convenient and cheap, of course! So what are we supposed to do? Organic tampons and pads are not widely available in most places, and when they are, tend to be extremely expensive. The brand that I (used) to buy was plastic free, but still had applicators, which I think are really unnecessary, and ran at about $10 for 16 tampons. Wow. And we have all heard the "horrors" of cloth pads, and attribute them to granola crunching hippies, or weirdos. I personally have no issues with cloth pads, and think that they are a great idea, however I think I have found something better.

I give you the Diva Cup. This little cup of silicone has changed my menstrual life. Seriously. In my search for a more frugal alternative to the organic tampons and pads I had been using for a few months, I stumbled across this in my local natural foods store. I was intrigued, and went home to do some research, as that is what I do. I read many rave reviews, and decided to give it a try. It retailed for about $40, which I originally balked at, but then realized that I was spending almost $20 per month on the organic tampons and pads. The Diva Cup replaced both of those, and it lasts for at least one year. Sold. It comes packaged in a little cardboard box with only a little piece of plastic on the front of it, and also comes with its very own carry bag, made from cloth. Love. The only other thing you need to purchase to go with it is a bottle of natural, unscented soap to wash it with. I buy a 100% natural unscented soap that is about $5 for a bottle that lasts at least 3 months. The wonderful thing about the cup is that you can leave it in for up to 12 hours, there is no concern about Toxic Shock Syndrome, and it is pretty much leak proof. And it is extremely comfortable. You simply empty it a few times a day, wash it with the soap, and replace. At the end of your cycle each month, they recommend you boil it for 20 minutes to sterilize it, then just keep it in its nifty carry bag until next month. I didn't realize exactly how comfortable it was until last month, when I forgot the cup at home and was in need of it at work. I pulled out one of my last remaining tampons, and I could not believe how uncomfortable I was for the rest of the day. 

So that is my green alternative to tampons and pads, and seeing as this is turning in to a ridiculously long post, I will leave you with the hopes that you will research this product, and then try it! You won't regret it (I hope).
Have a lovely Thursday!



  1. I have the moon cup and am glad I made the switch.

  2. I'm so with you on this issue - the mooncup has revolutionised that part of my life!

    Well done for speaking out about it, as well! I have yet to rave about it to my girlfriends - not sure whether they're be able to cope with the ick-factor. :-)


  3. Thank you! I am also nervous of bringing it up in do you just randomly talk about it?

  4. I have heard of this, but I am a little grossed out about the cleaning. What if you are in a public place?? What do you do then?

  5. Hey Lou,

    The cleaning threw me off at first as well, but it is super easy and not gross at all. You simply empty it out into the toilet, and then wash and rinse it in a mild soap/tap water. As far as a public place goes, you can keep it in for up to 12 hours, so I have never had to really clean it in public.The package says if you are unable to wash it when you need to empty it, simply empty it, wipe it out with some toilet paper, and just wash it at your next opportunity. I have gone away before, and just brought a mini container of the soap I use and used it when needed, i.e in the hotel room. Hope this helps!