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There’s No Delicate Way to Put This ...

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Posted on Jan 12, 2009
Eco-Femme

By Eunice Wong

Hello ladies.

Would you consider reusable menstrual items?

Please stay with me. 

I do not sell these items, nor am I connected to the companies that make them. I’m a mom who’s been cloth-diapering her baby for six months, to save money, my son’s health and the environment. Only recently did I realize that while I’ve been feeling ecologically virtuous, I’ve also been throwing out tampons and pads every month for more than 20 years of my life, and have another 20-plus years to do so.

I did some research and was appalled. I claim, like most people, to be concerned about the desperate state of the planet, yet I never challenged the disposable monolith we live in. A sampling:

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There are 85 million women of menstruating age in North America. Conservative estimates are that the average woman disposes of between 10,000 and 15,000 tampons, pads and applicators in her lifetime1. That’s about 250 to 300 pounds of waste per woman. 

In 1999, about 2.5 million tampons, 1.4 million pads, and 700,000 pantiliners were flushed away daily2.

Waste consultant Franklin Associates reports that 13.5 billion pads and 6.5 billion tampons, plus their packaging, ended up in landfills or sewage systems in 19983. In the United States and Canada alone, more than 12 billion pads and tampons are tossed annually4.

Disposable pads are made with polyethylene plastic. Producing polyethylene contributes to global warming and depletes the ozone, while emitting sulfur and nitrogen oxides, which add to acidification5.

According to the Center for Marine Conservation, more than 170,000 tampon applicators were collected along U.S. coastal areas between 1998 and 19996. The Ocean Conservancy collected and cataloged debris along U.S. coastlines between 2001 and 2006, finding that tampon applicators made up 2.2 percent of the total debris field, more than syringes, condoms and plastic six-pack rings combined7.

Most women are not aware that safe, ecologically sound, lower-priced alternatives exist. We have been conditioned since childhood by slick commercials for disposable products. The companies that make reusable products don’t have the revenue from massive repeat sales, like tampon and pad companies do, to advertise on television and in major print outlets. Word of mouth is vital.

Most obvious among “green” alternatives are washable cloth pads and pantiliners. These are not your grandmother’s cloth pads. Today they’re available on the Internet and come in a wide variety of funky patterns and materials, from hemp to organic French terry cotton to microfleece. 

Washing cloth pads is actually easy—after rinsing and soaking them in a container of cold water with a secure lid, you can run them through the laundry and machine or line-dry them. Done.

If you are out or at work, you can store the used pads in a “wet” bag and soak them when you get home. 

A few other useful sites are www.lunapads.com, www.gladrags.com and www.greenyour.com.

Then there is the menstrual cup. A flexible bell shape, it’s made of medical-grade silicone that softens with body heat—the same material used for heart valves—or latex. It is worn low in the vagina, just beyond the opening. When inserted properly, you can’t feel it. It is physically impossible for it to get “lost” inside.

While the cup looks intimidating, it is folded to a very manageable size before inserting. There are numerous folding techniques, and different techniques work for different women. It is not painful to use.

Menstrual cups can last, with proper care, up to 10 years. They cost $20 to $30. In 10 years, the average woman spends about $500 on tampons and pads.

Menstrual cups can be worn for up to 12 hours at a time, including overnight. Unlike tampons, they are not associated with toxic shock syndrome. You empty, wash and reinsert it two or three times in a 24-hour period. You will almost never, considering how long you can wear the cup, have to empty it in a public restroom. 

When you try it for the first time, relax and remember it takes practice. Most women need about three monthly cycles to master the technique. Once you have it down, it takes only a few seconds to insert or remove the cup.

The initial reaction of nearly all women to the menstrual cup is “Gross!” But the cup is not messy. It holds a full ounce. The entire average monthly flow is two to four ounces. Most women, after wearing the cup for 12 hours on their heavy-flow days, will find that it is less than half full.

You can find lots of information and support online. A good instructional video is on YouTube.

Also, www.ecomenses.com has helpful information and pictures on menstrual cups, cloth pads and sea sponges. 

The Diva Cup is manufactured in Canada. There’s also the Keeper (not for those with latex allergies), the Moon Cup and the Lunette. Each site has extensive FAQ sections, especially the Diva Cup site, which has more than 100 answers to different concerns.

This is one decision you can make that will have an immediate impact on the environment. You may not be able to afford solar panels or a biodiesel vehicle. Maybe you’re not ready for a compost toilet. But you can do this. 

Nobody makes a greater mistake, wrote Edmund Burke, than s(he) who did nothing because s(he) could only do a little.

Eunice Wong is an actor based in New York.


References:

1P2Pays—“Recycling and waste reduction statistics: The Disturbing Truth”
2Women’s Environmental Network—“Seeing Red: Sanitary Protection and the Environment”
3Health News Digest
4P2Pays—“Recycling and waste reduction statistics: The Disturbing Truth”
5http://www.greenyour.com/body/personal-care/feminine-hygiene/tips/choose-cloth-menstrual-pads?subject=9133&category=9484
6E: The Environmental Magazine—“Inner Sanctum: The Hidden Price of Feminine Hygiene Products”
7Ocean Conservancy—“The National Marine Debris Monitoring Program: Total Debris Collected/National”


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By UseCups!, November 20, 2009 at 7:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m so glad you wrote this article.

For all of you that say this is “gross”, it is because society has trained you to think that the a woman’s body and its natural functions are “gross”. The main reason why women are still hated on by society stems from their obvious connection with nature and their menstrual cycle. So when you think that menstruation is gross you are buying into the patriarchal society that has forever oppressed women. Would you still be as grossed out if a women cut her knee and you saw her bleed?

Alternative menstrual products are much better for women’s bodies, the environment, and they are cheaper. And, by using alternative menstrual products, women, in essence, are taking a stand against the billion dollar tampon industry, which, in my opinion, is not much better than the tobacco industry.

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By Mbadger, July 10, 2009 at 6:25 am Link to this comment

well thats certainly one way to tackle climate change i guess, good recycling technique, but its still pretty gross.

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By Ruth, March 7, 2009 at 6:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ohhhh am I ever grossed out.  But I really want to do this I feel that I should. But how gross. HOW GROSS.  I am slightly traumatized by the thought… I get grossed out if I use the same J-cloth on my kitchen counters for more than a month.  But as some have said, perhaps I should test it out and see. Probably the Menstrual Cup would be the best bet. I really don’t mind coming into some contact with blood…but the thought of a reusable cotton pad shlepping around down there seems a little ugghhh.  I’m working up the courage. And will keep whoever must know posted.  Side note where does it end.  I can wash my carpet, my mop piece my clothes and my reusable pad in that same washer. I don’t know.

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By ;), February 10, 2009 at 2:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I don’t get how men can be so opposed to periods and anything envolving them when women are the ones who give birth to them, and to have a baby, a woman has to have a period.

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By Lacy, February 4, 2009 at 7:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am so glad to see this article. Thanks you!!

I was so sick of disposable menstrual products last year that I was looking online to see if there was anything else to use. I’ve been using a mooncup and fabric pantyliners ever since. I actually look forward to my period now and it feels much more special to me. My fiance is also very supportive and happy that I’m doing something to help myself and the planet! We need to get the word out that better menstrual products are here!

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By Have a Happy Period......NATURALLY, February 3, 2009 at 11:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I always had problems with tampons and I was a competitive swimmer.. not a good combo. When I was 20 I was introduced to lunapads/panties and the DivaCup, its been two years now, I’m in love and I will NEVER go back. I used to get AWFUL AWFUL AWFUL diaper rash from the disposable pads I used, and found out it was ACTUALLY an ALLERGY! EEK! Talk about pain!!! And that horrible bikini-wax when the pad flipped… YEEEOW! (glue next to my vagina, hmm is that really sanitary? I mean they ARE called sanitary napkins…) Also, when I was competing and using tampons, I cried when pulling out tampons, they burned/scraped my vaginal walls and also stopped my menses as well as giving me nasty cramps. My cycle was also incredibly irregular, here one month gone for seven, then it’d last three days then not come for four months, etc. I think this is because of the chemicals in the disposables I was using, as now my cycle is MUCH more regular, in fact, I’ve begun to predict when it will come.. not many surprise days now!! I love my lunapads. I’m still a virgin and the DivaCup definitely took some getting used to (the C fold NEVER worked for me, I loved the other fold techniques, I, personally, use the 7 fold), but now I use it for my 2-3 heaviest days and then just use my lundapads/panties and I’m set to go. Lunapads are easy to clean, I have a soaking bucket I fill my first day and just add pads until the last day then dump the whole bucket into the wash, no rinse/wringing required. I either wash them alone or with towels. I’m also going to use cloth diapers when I have children, partly because of my allergies, I don’t want my babies to experience that and for comfort reasons. I never really looked at it from the eco-friendly side, as much as the health/medical side. For me, this was the right choice, not every woman agrees, my mother was positively grossed out when she found out (she said “ew” and walked out of the room), but I believe that was more her culture and how she was raised, as opposed to the generation I’m in. I thank God I was introduced to Lunapads (Thank you Jo!) and no longer have an allergic reaction… or that uninvited bikini-wax every month! YAY! Thank you Eunice, for posting this, and guys, imagine putting something you’re allergic to next to your penis and testicles, having an allergic reaction, and oh wait, you’ve still got 6.5 more days to go!

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By Brooke Johnson, February 1, 2009 at 4:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ve been using my Diva cup for a more then a year now. There are also health benefits to using a menstrual cup. Every woman who I have talked to whom has made the switch finds a reduction in cramps. I’ve also found a reduction in the amount of bleeding during my period over the past year of cycles with a Diva cup. One explanation suggested by a retailer of Natracare (disposable menstrual products made from organic materials) is that traditional tampons actually contain fiberglass to increase bleeding. I personally always found it impossible to use both tampons and pads because they caused so much irritation. Everyone refers to the Diva cup as having a learning curve, but the frustration of learning to use it, for me was well worth no longer suffering from using traditional products. The environmental and financial benefits are great as well. Plus, it is easy to travel with and most of the time my boyfriend doesn’t even know I have my period (which he prefers). So it is really a win win situation for women.

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By Julia Schopick, January 27, 2009 at 5:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Eunice:

I am so glad you wrote this piece—and that it was also posted on Alternet. It’s really terrific. As you correctly stated, the makers of these alternative (reusable) menstrual products don’t have the budgets to compete with the manufacturers of the disposables. So we rely on word of mouth—and word of Internet—to tell the story.

The numbers you give are accurate: the average woman disposes of between 10,000 and 15,000 tampons, pads and applicators in her lifetime, which is about 250 to 300 pounds of waste per woman. And yes, in the United States and Canada alone, more than 12 billion pads and tampons are tossed annually.

All true.

But, these numbers are just too HUGE. Most women cannot actually PICTURE this TREMENDOUS amount of waste!

So, The Keeper, Inc., manufacturer of The Keeper, has posted actual photos, SHOWING the amount of waste one woman creates by using and tossing tampons into the environment in 1 month, 1 year, 10 years—and in her menstruating lifetime (approximately 40 years). (HINT: We had to use a DUMP TRUCK to show one woman’s lifetime use!)

Please take a look at these Comparison Photos. I know you’ll agree that these 4 photos are worth at least TEN THOUSAND WORDS!

http://www.keeper.com/photographs.html

Once you see these comparison photos, you won’t ever think about disposable menstrual products the same way again!

Julia Schopick
http://www.Keeper.com

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By Katy, January 24, 2009 at 5:00 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What a great article, Eunice!
When I first heard about reusable products, I thought the whole idea was disgusting, and didn’t give it a second thought. However, early last year a friend told me she used a MoonCup, and I got curious. I subsequently bought a Lunette and stash of cloth pads, and since then have never felt better about my period. I’m spending less money, producing less waste, and having less problem days where I need a bathroom every two hours. It feels healthier, and I have a better understanding of the way my body works.
Cups and cloth pads are drastically underused. They are not just a hippy thing - thousands of women worldwide are using and loving them. They’re not for everyone, but for many of us, they are the alternative we’d always dreamed of!
Freddy: menstruation and vaginal health are not small matters. My period runs for 10 days in every 27. That is a very significant portion of my life. Anything that makes me more comfortable during this time IS important, and not frivolous. As for indelicate, it is that sort of attitude to women’s health that prevents diagnoses of cervical and breast cancer. We wouldn’t want to indelicately discuss our bodies, would we?
Mike: There may be other thing that we could also be doing, but I fail to see why this is a convincing argument that we should not be doing this specific thing to help.
Manfred: Yes, the waste elsewhere is bigger, but here women can set the example by making small savings. Every little bit counts, and perhaps eventually industry will catch up. I don’t see any reason to stop doing my bit because others aren’t doing theirs.

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By BMC, January 19, 2009 at 12:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Some companies are starting to come out with environmentally friendly options that are also disposable.  Obviously, they are not reusable but it’s a step for those who still want the disposable option.

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By Sally Kemp, January 16, 2009 at 5:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Many men are, for a large part, IDIOTS. Too many have never outgrown the toddler-poo-poo-girls-are-icky stage.  As a 76 year old grandmother AND one who cares deeply about our environment, I have often worried about the damage done by disposable diapers, feminine hygiene products, plastic of all kinds.

On a recent trip to Nicaragua, the second poorest country in South America after Haiti, I was stunned to see huge piles of non-biodegradable waste EVERYWHERE. I was told the people have only recently been able to afford packaged goods, and assume it’ll just disintegrate like a banana skin.

The products you write about sound sane, safe and certainly as easy to use as anything else.  You might point out to the men who act like jackasses, that healthy women have menstrual periods because WE are the ones who bring them into the world. It’s Sacred work and to be honored, not snickered at by fools.  Sally Kemp

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By Roxy, January 16, 2009 at 11:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks Eunice for spreading the word!  I know there will be as many people perplexed and grossed out by this concept of reusable menstrual products as there will be curious and intrigued. I was the later of the 2.  I found out about the menstrual cup after doing some research on cloth diapers.  It really interested me so I started to check them out and ended up ordering one before my period had even returned after giving birth.  The cup hasn’t gone without its problems.  I still have some leaking and do have to change it every 2 hours on heavy days but not as often as tampons. But overall it has done its job well and I will continue to use it along with cloth pads, for many many years.

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By cyrena, January 15, 2009 at 6:13 pm Link to this comment

By dip, January 13 at 6:19 am #
(Unregistered commenter)

See, thats why men are more enviromental friendly, Ive never flushed a tampon!

~~~

Did you ever wear diapers dip?

Have you ever considered that there could come a time in your life when you might wear them again? Or should we just let you pee and shit all over yourself?

Oh! You say you do that NOW, eh?

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By kesa, January 15, 2009 at 3:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The sea sponge is a very good alternative. It conforms to your shape and is easy to insert and remove. Wash with soap and water, easy to rinse out in a restroom when it’s full. Extremely comfortable.
Freddy needs to mind his own business because frankly, women spend up to one week of every month, (12X a year) for perhaps 40-50 YEARS dealing with this—- is Not A SMALL MATTER, bub!!!

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By suzanne, January 15, 2009 at 11:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

the UK Environment Agency has recently updated it’s report “lifecycle assessment study for disposable and reusable nappies”.  As this site reports… http://ausnappynetwork.wordpress.com/2008/10/18/ea-report-update-cloth-better/ “The new report reiterates what reusable nappy users have maintained since modern fabrics and washing methods have been adopted, that reusable nappies are better for the environment than disposable nappies, by up to a staggering 40%.The report says that washing reusable nappies in full loads in energy efficient machines, on 40°C then line drying and reusing on future children uses only 370kg carbon dioxide equivalents over 2.5 years in nappies. Conversely, using disposable nappies for the same period releases 550kg carbon dioxide equivalents to the atmosphere (nearly double).”

in my books, the same argument holds for washable menstrual pads!

and thanks to all who posted about lunapads and the divacup.  for those truthdig readers still on the fence: get $5 off orders > $35 by using promo code “truthdig09” upon checkout!

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By tentaculata, January 14, 2009 at 6:06 pm Link to this comment

Hello Peter Belmont,

Good for you and your wife for choosing cloth diapers!  I’ve heard people argue that the energy/water costs for laundry are worse for the environment than using disposables, but that’s a cop-out.  I don’t know the exact numbers, but that’s like arguing that it’s better for the environment to wear disposable paper clothes and eat with plastic cutlery and paper plates rather than do our laundry or wash the dishes. 

In the case of reusable menstrual products, energy and water costs are not even an issue, since cloth pads get washed with the rest of your laundry, and menstrual cups just need to be rinsed off, and then boiled every month.  It’s a no-brainer here which choice is better for the environment.

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By NNN, January 14, 2009 at 4:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hey, so on my last post I said Iw as going to try the pads and then get a cup when I’m older (i’m 14) cuz I thought maybe you had to be a certain age for the cup.  But you don’t!!  I checked it out, you can you use the cup as soon as you start getting your period.  So i’m going for it girls!!  Anyway I use tampons already so no big deal.  And I also found out the cup is really popu;ar in Europe cuz European women are so much more comfortable with their bodies.  so why are we so lame here, american sisters? afraid to touch yourself or your own blood?

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By LLL, January 14, 2009 at 3:57 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m glad to see another article that explains the benefits of reusable menstrual products. I started using Lunapads several months ago, and am very happy with my choice. For whatever reason, I was developing worse and worse reactions while using the disposable products, but these problems disappeared after using the Lunapads.

They do take a bit of getting used to, but I can’t imagine going back.  They’re easy to clean, don’t give off bad odors like the disposables, and are more cost-effective than disposables. I also had no problems traveling with them.

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By NNN, January 14, 2009 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hey Freddy: “indelicate?  What century are you from?  How did you even figure out how to turn on your computer?  And then who held the gun to your head to make you read this INDELICATE, disgusting, highly informative article?

I’m 14 and have never heard of these great reusable stuff for periods.  But I’m definitely checking them out now.  I think I’ll start with the pads and get a cup when i’m older.  IF YOU SAY YOU CARE ABOUT THE ENVIROMENT YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE.  thanx!!!

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By pdx, January 14, 2009 at 11:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We should be having this conversation… being a woman and having and having menstrual cycle is not a disease!  I am tired of men and woman alike supporting the idea that it’s gross to be a human with natural body processes… maybe this is the cause of the disconnect between personal care and sustainability, in addition to all the health implications of using most conventional products.

I have been using organic tampons and reusable pads for years but the Keeper has won out hands down… it paid for itself in three months and I will have it for 10 years… it works better than a tampon and I feel like I am much more connected to my cycle as natural and normal part of being a woman. 

It is good to remember that everything that we throw away goes somewhere and every choice has an impact.

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By viciousmeow, January 14, 2009 at 9:59 am Link to this comment

THANK YOU! I purchased a DivaCup last year, and it was great in a lot of ways—it didn’t leak, it was comfortable, AND best of all, the monthly cramps that I thought were unavoidable were much, much less painful! So it was great for about four months, but then all of a sudden I started having trouble with it. I think it was because I was folding it wrong, but thanks to your link to the folding techniques I am going to try again. Also, when I stopped using the DivaCup and started using tampons again (organic unbleached cotton), the cramps were back with a vengeance. I can’t imagine why this is, but I’m going to go with the DivaCup.

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By Peter Belmont, January 14, 2009 at 7:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When my wife and I chose cloth diapers over disposable (ca. 1970), an issue that arose was the cost of energy for laundry versus the cost for manufacture, packaging, sale, of disposables.  I forget how this analysis worked out. I’d hope to hear that the energy analysis favors cloth over disposables here (too?).

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By Amy Connolly, January 14, 2009 at 5:35 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I used the Mooncup this summer and loved it, but unfortunately got not one but two infections which I think may have been caused by my not keeping it clean enough.  I want to encourage people to try it but do remember to sanitize it each month. 

I am pregnant now so I get a 9 month break from any of this!

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By LMH, January 13, 2009 at 8:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks Eunice. A very open, helpful and honest article. It sounds like not only are these options a huge plus for the environment but they are also easier on our wallets and is seems perhaps “safer” (as far as possibility for leaks/stains etc).
So good all around!
I’m so checking these out now (I have several friends that loved the cups when they started them a few years ago so it’s my time!)

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By KDelphi, January 13, 2009 at 7:41 pm Link to this comment

Our grandparents did—why not? They are better for you ..

To the male comments—she also talked about disposable DIAPERS, which are a HUGE part of landfill. (and baby misery) Diaper service is cheaper, nicer for the baby (and safer!) and environmentally sound.

The cups are comfortabele and have been around for years.

monkey—sexism is IN! Hadnt you heard?

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By Jen, January 13, 2009 at 7:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I just started using cloth pads a few months ago, because due to medical reasons I can’t use tampons anymore, and the disposable pads were very irritating to my vag. I am so glad I switched, they are very comfortable, and I just rinse them and wash them with my babies cloth diapers. No preblem. They’re not scented and laced with chemicals, they are organic cotton and not gross at all!
And you men should just not talk when you have no idea what you’re talking about.

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By RS, January 13, 2009 at 6:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks, Eunice, for speaking so openly and honestly about a subject that most of us treat as a taboo. This taboo is a reflection of a culture that considers women and our bodies mysterious, frightening…and even unclean. We internalize this shame and it silences us, and we all know where that leads.
I’ll admit I’ve never tried reusables, but after reading your article, I’m going to give them a try. “A little cotton, cardboard, and plastic” adds up to a lot.
I’d like to also thank certain posters (presumably men, but you never know) for their snarky and misogynistic comments. It reminds me how important it is to remain vocal about any and all reproductive issues. Perhaps someday we’ll get to the point where we brag about our flow the way men brag about the size of their penises—exaggerating, of course, to make ourselves seem more “womanly”.

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By happy femme, January 13, 2009 at 5:45 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think I will rightfully ignore the male comments since they really don’t have a leg to stand on.

I have just tried lunapads for the first time this month and love them! I feel more comfortable and happy that I am doing something positive for the environment.

I admit that at first I thought the idea might be gross, but then I realized how narrow-minded I was being. It’s the most natural thing we women do.

Thank you Eunice for opening my eyes.

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By MB, January 13, 2009 at 4:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well, I’m glad the men are so involved. At least it’s a start. After you bleed out of your rectums for a week every month, THEN your opinion may matter.

Luckily you ladies are smart enough to make this decision on your own. I have just started using Lunapads for the first time this month after reading Eunice’s article. I admit tht at first I thought this whole reusable thing would be weird and gross. But I couldn’t judge without at least trying. I LOVE them. It feels more comfortable to me than regular pads and I feel better about myself for helping in some way. I am telling everyone I know and hope that people aren’t so narrow minded. There is no need to be embarrassed about such a natural thing. Education is the best tool. Thank you Eunice.

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By mae sakharov, January 13, 2009 at 4:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Some or many things go unnoticed—thanks Eunice..

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By sarah, January 13, 2009 at 3:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

great post. i’m a big fan of lunapads. i switched a few years ago and have never looked back. not only is it good for the environment, soft cotton is way more comfortable!

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By NIkiah, January 13, 2009 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Tentaculata,
I am there with you Sister!
This issue affects everyone on our planet, to look at it any other way is extremely short sighted!
The amount of trash what we put into landfills with our monthly madness is crazy when we have choices!
Yes!! you heard it-we have the “choice” and in my humble opinion the women who have created these choices for us have done a great job of it!
I personally use the Diva cup and Lunapads both super comfortable and easy to use.
We should be supporting each other in optimizing these choices, because…like I said they affect everyone our brothers,our husbands and our sons- everyone!

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By Anjou, January 13, 2009 at 1:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Bravo Eunice, thank you for writing about this!
I had never heard of any of these alternatives before.  I was just happy I didn’t have to wear cloth diapers like our great-grandmothers must have….

Dear Manfred (comment #1): I didn’t understand your post. What do you mean by “phallic-industry culture and their subdivisions”, and what does that have to do with this topic?  Could you elaborate?  I am really curious.

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By tentaculata, January 13, 2009 at 12:49 pm Link to this comment

The close-minded, neanderthal misogyny at the beginning of these comments is really incredible.  Small matter?  Frivolous?  Foolish?  A LITTLE cotton, cardboard, and plastic?  Did you read the statistics?  A little cotton, cardboard, and plastic, every month, for about 45 years, for every single woman.  You clearly have problems thinking on a larger scale.

I love the menstrual cup.  It’s not gross, it’s not messy, and it doesn’t leak.  It does take some practice, but once you’ve got the hang of it, it’s a total breeze.  I’m not contributing to the disgusting waste of this country and I’ve dropped out of the monthly merry-go-round of spending my money on instant trash. 

Women, if you haven’t tried it, MENSTRUAL CUPS ARE AWESOME.

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adrienrain's avatar

By adrienrain, January 13, 2009 at 12:22 pm Link to this comment

Sea sponges are perfect.

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By hippy pam, January 13, 2009 at 11:47 am Link to this comment

What have women done since the DAWN OF TIME?...We have dealt with the situation and still worked-cooked-cleaned-while STAYING CLEAN AND FRESH so our men did not have to bothered by our “little problem”....You GUYS are not very progressive minded at all….I bet if we were talking about your “bigguns” mags-you know-the ones with the sticky[favorite] pages?....The ones you re-use over and over again????....I bet you would NOT CONSIDER THAT GROSS AT ALL….I bet you all would ACTIVELY LOOK for WAYS to CLEAN THOSE PAGES???....

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By tulip, January 13, 2009 at 10:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Interesting that the comments here are made by men.
I’ve used a cup for years and I have never had any problems with it.

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By Katie, January 13, 2009 at 10:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks!! i am always looking for new ways to be environmentaly frendly… i had never thought of this one… very informative.

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By purplewolf, January 13, 2009 at 10:14 am Link to this comment

Blackspeare, you are using it upside down. Back in the late 1960’s-early 1970’s, this very same product was around and they were much cheaper than the current cost. They were called Tas-aways.

And yes there are better ways to help the environment.

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By monkey, January 13, 2009 at 9:40 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks, Eunice, for this post—I’m surprised that on a site as progressive as TruthDig it’s getting such a snarky response (from men, it seems).  Reusable menstrual items are an imperative for ecologically conscious women, and they’re also economical and easy.  Ladies, don’t let the male standard idea of “grossness” keep you from experimenting with these methods to find out which is best for you.  Half the population of the world menstruates; we ought to be able to have a mature conversation about how to do it responsibly.

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By Clairmonde, January 13, 2009 at 9:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am very active and have never had any luck with anything I tried in the past (OB tampons, all other tampons, pads and even Kleenex).

I tried the cup back when it was brown and not very pretty and WOW.  Not only did I not drip or have any embarrassing moments during my races or at work, I was comfortable.  Nothing is worse than stressing over the fact that you might leak during a board meeting, presentation or finishing a race in front of cameras.

Yes it takes some time getting used to placing it and pulling it out but the payback far out ways this awkwardness of the first month.

If you want to try a softer introductory disposable cup… I swear by my “Insteads” when I am in a situation where I just want to throw them away and insert another.  They are made of surgical grade material and although soft to start with, soften up more inside and do not leak.  They are not always easy to find but some drugstores carry them.

I did not start using cups for environmental reasons but it is interesting to read this article.

As a woman… cups are amazing!

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By dip, January 13, 2009 at 7:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

See, thats why men are more enviromental friendly, Ive never flushed a tampon!

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By Freddy, January 13, 2009 at 6:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

No delicate way to put it? Then don’t put it any way at all.

This is the sort of small matter that you spend your time thinking about? Yup, you’re right. It’s indelicate. It’s also frivolous and more than a little foolish. Look, let me give you a bit of advice: Not every thought that pops into your head is worth inflicting on others.

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By mike112769, January 13, 2009 at 3:24 am Link to this comment

There are better ways to help the environment.

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By manfred, January 12, 2009 at 11:42 pm Link to this comment

Hey Eunice, my wife says don’t be a sucker—all this talk about enviro periods, enviro anything women is a big distraction from the colossal waste of the phallic-industrial culture. Those jerks, she says, have built enough subdivisions in America in the past 10 years to cover Maryland. And you’re here, telling women not to play around with a little cotton, cardboard, and plastic.

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