This December Jessica from Foxes and Food and I are doing a zero waste challenge, last week I wrote about plastic bags and their effect on our environment and this week is an all girls topic all about periods. It was always very clear to me that organic food is the best for myself and the planet, but when it came to female hygiene I took a little longer to make the connection. In this post I will be introducing toxin- and waste-free alternatives that I use.
Tampons and pads both contain toxin chemicals that I do not want in or on my body. Cotton tampons are bleached with chlorine, which results in a cancer causing byproduct called dioxin. Dioxin is known to weaken the immune system, interrupt the hormones in our bodies and it may also harm our reproductive systems. Another cancer-causing chemical found in tampons are pesticides like procymidon. Our vagina walls are incredibly absorbent which means that all the toxins from tampons go directly into our blood stream.
Another risk of using tampons is a rare but deadly disease called toxic shock syndrome which can be simply caused by pulling out tampons. The act of pulling can create small tears inside the vagina, which creates a breeding ground for deadly bacteria.
I used to think that disposable pads were a great alternative because they do not touch the inner vaginal wall. Unfortunately store-bought pads are made of plastic and the cotton contains the cancer causing byproduct of bleach called dioxin. The plastic lining increases the risk for yeast infections and it may also contain BPA (bisphenol A), another endocrine disrupting chemical. Although pads do not touch the inner vaginal wall, the toxins can still be absorbed by the skin.
While all these chemicals used are not only incredibly bad for us, they are also harming the environment. On average a woman uses over 10000 tampons/pads in her life, that is not only incredibly expensive but also a very large amount of waste. The plastic lining of the pads takes a very long time to break down and all this waste goes into landfills. These landfills produce more than ten toxic gases that are released into our air, and all of this can easily be avoided by switching to a more natural alternative such as a diva cup or a reusable cotton pad.
Menstrual cups are made of medical grade silicone and have many benefits compared to normal cotton tampons. Period cups are incredibly safe to use, as the silicone does not harbour any bacteria there is no risk of getting the toxic shock syndrome. Because they are made of non toxic material, they only have to be changed every 12 hours, and the actual product can be used from 1-10 years.
There are two well known menstrual cups, one is called diva cup and the other is a moon cup. I have tried both of them and have stuck with the diva cup, as I found the moon cup to be slightly too long for me.
I bought my diva cup from iherb, they have two different cup sizes available and I bought model 1. The cost of 125 dirhams may seem like a lot at first, but thinking that I can use mine from 1-10 years it definitely turns out cheaper than buying (organic) tampons or pads every month. Iherb delivers with the DHL courier service directly to my house door without a P.O. box within 4-6 days. For 10% off your entire order, enter code: RDD731 at checkout.
The menstrual cup seems a little large and difficult to insert at first, but there is nothing to be afraid of. I fold the cup into a C shape and once it goes up it unfolds itself. The menstrual cup should not cause any discomfort. It is very important not to pull the cup out by the little stem, but by the bottom of the cup. I just give it a gently squeeze and pull it out slowly without spilling any blood. I rinse the cup very thoroughly with water every day and after I finish my period I clean my menstrual cup in a glass of water and hydrogen peroxide.
Reusable pads are an amazing alternative for anyone not comfortable with the menstrual cup. When I first heard of cotton pads they sounded a little strange and messy at first, but the more research I did the more I liked the idea of reusable pads. I have not found any reusable pads in the stores in the United Arab Emirates so I have ordered mine on iherb for 148 dirhams, but there are many tutorials online on how to make them yourself with a sewing machine. For 10% off your iherb order use code RDD731 at checkout.
Before switching to the menstrual cup I only used organic cotton tampons because I always felt safer with them, only when I did more research I realised how dangerous it is to wear a tampon all night. While I want to avoid all toxins close to my private area I found cotton pads to be a great alternative. Because I only wear pads at night I bought cotton pads that are pretty large in size, but there are smaller sizes available for those who wear thongs during their periods.
The cotton pad holder has an insert for as many pads as I need depending on how strong my blood flow is. I then turn it around, with the tag and button facing downwards and the soft side being on my body and click it into my underwear.
When I wake up in the morning I rinse my pad under cold water to remove most of the blood, if I wore them all day I would get a little plastic bag to store them in until I go home. I put the cotton pads into the washing machine with my normal coloured washing and although they do tend to stain after using them for a long time they work very well for me.
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