Sustainable Menstruation

Oh, menstrual cups. Yes, menstrual cups are awesome, whether The Keeper (whose tagline “The Leader and Most Trusted & Recognized Name In the Menstrual Cup Industry” is for some reason incredibly funny to me, maybe because there is such a thing as a “Menstrual Cup Industry”) or the Diva Cup. I know this probably sounds like someone is paying me to say this, but I promise I’m just really, really happy about menstrual cups. Ha!

Left to right, The Diva Cup and The Keeper (Flickr: Greencolander)

Basically, it’s a rubber or silicone cup that sits in the vagina just below the cervix and instead of absorbing menstrual blood like a tampon, collects it. The cup is then removed, rinsed, and reinserted twice a day, and has a lifetime of about ten years. The financial aspect alone is pretty mind boggling…imagine 10 years of buying tampons or sanitary napkins…and now imagine spending the extra dough to buy tampons and sanitary napkins that are unbleached and environmentally friendly. Needless to say it adds up, and a cup only costs about $35. On top of that, it doesn’t dry up the vagina like a tampon does (which increases the risk of tearing and bacterial transmission leading to toxic shock syndrome, a life-threatening infection linked to high-absorbancy tampon-use). Even better, it means not dumping however many tampons, non-recyclable tampon applicators, sanitary napkins, and all the packaging and chemicals that go into bleaching and treating all of the above into the garbage and the environment (and think of it this way: an estimated 43 million American women use tampons, and on average a woman uses 15,000 tampons over her lifetime. That’s a ton of waste). Beyond all of the awesomeness, there’s one other thing about these products that I love. They’re old school in the way that they recall a time when companies had a great idea and then made products that didn’t break, or have to be replaced, or are disposable. It’s a product that works well for a long time, and I really admire that.

I personally started with The Keeper and love it. There’s something about its pared-down marketing that I kind of dig, as if a whole bunch of aging second wave feminists in a Seattle basement were personally hand-sewing the little bags that the cup arrives in, as opposed to the rather girly Diva Cup website. I hope I have daughters so that I can gift it to them, with great fanfare and rite-of-passaging. I’ve never tried using a reusable sanitary napkin (check out GladRags) although what’s nice about a cup is that you just use it, hand-wash it, and store it, which takes very little time and effort.

More on what’s wrong with tampons here. Um, and here’s an amazing photo of a Diva Cup cozy crocheted to look like a strawberry and wow! yes! a squid!

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