**Please Note: This post contains affiliate links, but rest assured that I would never recommend something that I personally have not tried**
When it comes to feminine hygiene and menstruation, I was only ever taught about sanitary pads and tampons. Of course this was over 15 years ago when the damage we were doing to the environment wasn’t quite as evident as it is now, but even so there was no mention whatsoever of any alternative products in school or anywhere else for that matter.
Female sanitary items have been estimated to produce 100 billion pieces of waste each year – most of which is non bio-degradable plastic. All of this waste will then end up in landfill forever, or – even worse – in our Oceans where they will stay permanently, causing massive amounts of damage to the seas and its creatures.
I’d never really thought of what the sanitary products I used contained, or where they ended up. Some items obviously contain plastic such as certain tampon applicators, but others can’t be that bad can they? In fact, the majority of well known tampon and sanitary towel brands contain synthetic materials, bleach and plastic. Some of them of course do use pure cotton, but considering how many horrendous chemicals and pesticides are used on the crops , you get to thinking that it surely can’ be good for either you or the environment.
This is why when I decided to start making my family’s life greener, I began to research alternative and Eco-friendly solutions to the monthly menstrual problem us women have to deal with. On the plus side there is now A LOT of choice when it comes to these types of products, and if it is something you want to do you are bound to find something that works for you. However the range of available products could also be a disadvantage – What do I choose? Is this one better than that one? What if I can’t use it properly? All excellent questions that no one can really answer for you to be honest. It’s all going to be a question of personal choice.
For girls who like to wear sanitary pads there are many options of organic, biodegradable or reusable pads that you can switch to for a greener period (that sounds a bit gross but you know what I mean!). You also have the option of special padded pants to wear for your time of the month which will just get thrown in the washing machine with the rest of your stuff.
If however, like me, you prefer tampons you may think that there is no alternative for you. This is so not true! There are a couple of different options for you ladies. Either you can go down the organic, disposable tampon route or you could consider the two other options – sea sponge tampons or a mooncup. The sea sponge tampons are literally just a small sponge that sits inside and absorbs the menstrual flow. It can then be rinsed and re-inserted as often as needed and lasts up to a year.
I personally chose to try a menstrual cup. These are made from medical grade silicone, and as the name suggests they act like a cup – sitting lower in the vagina than a tampon does and collecting the menstrual blood rather than absorbing it. You then remove the cup, tip out the blood down the toilet and give it a rinse before reinserting it. I chose to go in this direction because not only is it much better for the environment, it worked out better for my purse too! At £19 you may think it’s a lot of money to spend initially, but when you discover that each cup lasts up to 15 years you start to think a bit differently!
So I decided to give it a try and hopped on to Amazon to order one. The one thing I genuinely didn’t expect though was the sheer amount of different brands and styles available! Where do I start? Which one is best? Aaaagh! In the end I did some research, read some reviews and plumped for the original Mooncup. I decided on them for a few reasons – It is the original menstrual cup (they have been producing them since 2002), it has brilliant ethical values, they are certified by the Vegan Society and are working on education and breaking the taboo associated with menstruation. For more information about the company themselves see their website here.
There are 2 different sizes, and it can be difficult to decide which one to buy, but follow the guidelines provided by Mooncup themselves and you can’t go far wrong. For example, I am 30 years old and have had 2 children by Caesarean section so I bought a size A which has been absolutely fine.
It arrived promptly in its little box, and also comes with its own bag for keeping it on you while you’re out and about in case you get caught short which is very handy! The instructions are clear and it was actually very easy to insert. I was a bit worried as I had read other women’s’ comments about being scared to try it in case they couldn’t get it in or out, or thinking it would be too messy. I was pleasantly surprised though at how easy it was – fold it twice and insert it into the vagina where it opens up and sits nicely. Taking it out was slightly trickier, but with some practice it got easier. I would say that if you can use tampons you would be completely fine with a cup, there’s not a huge amount of difference in their application. Mess wise, there was hardly any! No leakage at all, and when I removed it to empty it I was amazed at how little blood there actually was! It always seems like so much when using a tampon, but then they absorb all moisture and not just the menstrual flow which can also make you feel very dry – one effect of tampons that I really didn’t like. As the cup only catches the blood, you don’t get that vaginal dryness which was a big plus for me!
I used the cup for the remaining 3 days of my period, including overnight, and there is absolutely no way I am ever going back now! In fact I’m pretty gutted I didn’t try it sooner – it was comfortable, easy, cheap, and so much better for the environment – I actually have nothing bad to say about it at all!
I highly recommend the mooncup for anyone looking for a greener alternative to menstrual hygiene products, and I will be so happy if just one woman decides to switch to the cup after reading this post – that would be up to 11,000 disposable sanitary products that are not causing immeasurable damage to our environment! I ordered mine from Amazon but you can order direct from their website too –
Buy your moon cup here!
Let me know if you decide to try a mooncup or any of the other products mentioned and tell me how it went, I’d love to hear from you!