By Meredith Gee
Even though about half of the world’s population is female, menstruation is still a relatively taboo topic. On the journey towards zero waste it is one of the hardest topics to find information about.
Divacup estimates that 240 disposable pads, liners and tampons are used annually per person. Over a lifetime, this adds up in our individual waste footprint. Over 12 billion products are used each year across the planet. That’s a lot of landfill space! But aside from the waste, there are personal health reasons why women are considering the switch to reusable options.
Bisphenol-A (or BPA) is a plastic additive that’s present in some menstrual products. Food Standards Australia has stated that there are “no public health and safety concerns at the levels of BPA people are exposed to in food”1. However menstrual health products aren’t food, and the health effects of BPA in these products isn’t settled science as yet. Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is also a rare but serious complication from toxins that build up from bacteria – for about half of people affected by TSS it is linked to tampon use2.
Thankfully, these days, there are a raft of alternatives. If making the switch to reusable menstrual products is too much right now, there are organic and more sustainable disposable options. Your Manly Food Co-Op stocks Tsuno organic cotton tampons, and sustainable bamboo fibre sanitary pads. Tsuno donate 50% of their profits to support girl’s and women’s empowerment through access to menstrual products and education. Erring on the side of reducing your exposure to nasties in traditional menstrual products can’t be a bad thing.
There are so many benefits of switching to a menstrual cup or reusable liners / pads. A few are: cost, convenience and effectiveness. Buying a reusable cup, liner or underwear is an initial outlay, but will last you years. Lunette (which we sell at your Manly Food Co-Op) suggest that their cups should be replaced every few years, but have reports of their cups lasting for 10 years. Lunette cups are made of medical grade silicone and are BPA free. They can take a little while to get used to, but once you’ve figured it out, the cup is much more convenient. You can keep it in for 12 hours which means they suit a long day-hike or road trip where you only have access to public bathrooms (or trees!) during the day, making emptying more difficult. Cleaning of the cup during, before and after use is very important, but again, easy to do once you’re used to it. The cup needs to be emptied 2-4 times a day depending on your flow, and you don’t need to shop for products every month.
Reusable liners or pads offer a sustainable alternative for non-tampon users or days. Again, there’s the initial outlay of cost, but without the ongoing expense. A drawback of reusable liners and pads is their storage when you’re out-and-about and they’re full. But there are options like a silicone reusable snap lock bag, or customised wet-bags. Period undies, like modibodi offer a day-long solution for either a liner or pad replacement. They’re comfortable, leakproof and stylish.
Whatever option you choose, let’s not stay quiet about the many sustainable options available out there!
Photo provided by Lunette.