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A Little Bit of All of It: A Natural Parenting Blog
October Unprocessed 2012
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The Cost of NOT Greening Your Period

pads and tampon garbage

pads and tampon garbage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

2 disclaimers to begin this post…

#1 – It’s late! I meant to have this as a wrap up to the posts of the week before last and just didn’t get to it in time. My apologies! :)

#2 – I plan to share in this post (among other things) some great reasons for ‘greening your period’ – or switching to reusable menstrual products. On the flip side of that I will be sharing some of the not-so-great things about disposable products. While I believe what I’m sharing has merit and sincerely hope that it may help provide a few answers for anyone on the fence or new to the whole idea, I am absolutely not judging you if you disagree with what’s expressed here. If this post comes as the right one at the right time for you, great! If it’s totally not your bag, feel free to ignore it!

OK – now we can get started!

I want to re-post something I shared last year:

  • Over 20 BILLION disposable pads, tampons, and applicators will
    be added to landfills every year in North America alone. The disposal of
    these products releases dioxins and other toxic chemicals into our
    rivers, lakes and oceans and pollutes our soil.
  • A woman will use on average 13,000 disposable menstrual products
    in her lifetime. ONE cloth pad has the potential to replace 140
    disposable pad/tampon products.
  • ONE cloth pad can last up to 5 years.
  • Disposable pads and tampons used in an average woman’s
    menstruating life will cost her $4500 compared to $200-$750 for reusable
    pads and tampons.
  • Many pads and tampons are chemically treated to whiten, perfume,
    and make them more absorbent. They are also made of synthetic fibers.
    Given the sensitivity of the vaginal area to chemical absorption and the
    number of disposable menstrual products a woman uses in her life, this
    is a really big issue.

Sources: http://www.naturalmenstrualproducts.com/, http://lunapads.com/about-us/media-info

This list is why I titled this post as I did.

First off, the contribution I was making to landfills with all those tampons and pads was something I never even considered. For far too long I was of the mindset that when you throw garbage ‘away’, it just goes into that nebulous ‘away’ that most of us never have to think about or deal with.

But when you do think of it…what a terrible burden to place on our earth! Don’t get me wrong – I still use things that are disposable. But I have come to see that we do WAY more disposable than we need to in so many things, where it takes surprisingly little effort to use something that will last for years.

Ultimately, whether it’s pads and tampons or paper plates or diapers or plastic spoons or whatever, we need to start counting the cost with these things. We need to start seeing the numbers – envisioning the disaster we are creating – and acting accordingly.

Moving on to actual financial cost. I know one of the greatest objections many people have to switching over to green menstrual products is that initial investment. It was a barrier for me as well. But I have to say – I spent around $100 on more reusable products than I actually have ended up needing; on the low end of buying tampons and pads I was spending at least $144/year (and very likely more). So I’ve already saved $44 over the past year, and I’ll be on the plus side for $144 by the end of next year, and on and on as long as they last. I’ll take that and happily!

It’s also important to keep in mind – the name brands are great, but they are far from the only thing out there. There are a ton of smaller productions in business that make excellent products for very low cost (like Moms Crafts 4 U) – mainly just as good or even better than what you can find name brand. It’s also really not difficult if you’re at all crafty to make your own!

Even if you divert $20 here and there every so often and build a stash slowly, it will not be long before your savings start to add up.

Finally, what about the cost to your health?

Some disposable pads contain latex (to make the plastic soft), dioxins (a carcinogen left from the bleaching process), sodium polyacrylate crystals (Super-absorbent crystals, which are known to be a skin irritant). Many women have no problems with this, but some have reactions ranging from mild to extreme. Many women are not even aware that their symptoms are being caused by the use of their disposables. Disposable pads can contribute to yeast infections due to the pads creating a moist environment. Tampons can dry out the vagina, which can lead to irritation and change the pH balance, which in turn can cause thrush. Rayon tampons also carry the risk of TSS, a potentially life threatening problem. (from clothpads.org)

One of my bloggy friends, Arpita of Up, Down and Natural, put it best when she recently shared the story of the moldy tampon:You are in charge of your own body and fertility…So please ladies, I beg of you, put yourself and your body first…  Because I can assure you, no one else is.

Do you know what you are using in and around one of the most sensitive parts of your body every month? Do you trust the manufacturers? Do you trust that there are enough regulations and studies in place to protect you? Do you believe you are using the very best option when it comes to your health? What about your daughter’s health?

These are the questions most of us have waited too long in our lives to ask – or often to even think of. I know I did. I know I’m glad I’ll be able to help my daughter make better, more informed choices when she begins menstruating.

Even if the idea of reusable products is too much for you (though I recommend you give them a try anyway – I went into it very reluctantly myself!) it is worth looking into disposable products that are more natural and chemical free. They are pretty easy to find – I’ve seen them in the organics aisle of our regular grocery store among other places.

Is the cost of greening your period starting to add up differently for you now?

I am very happy, of course, to give you a little more incentive and sweeten the deal. :)

1. I’m currently hosting a giveaway for a set of 5 cloth pads from Moms Crafts 4 U. Entry is open to US & Canada, lots of options and very easy to enter (Rafflecopter) – open until May 11th.

2. Veronica of Moms Crafts 4 U is offering a 10% discount to Becoming Crunchy readers through May 12th when you use the code: CRUNCHY in her Etsy Shop.

3. I am also hosting a giveaway for a wonderful book - Moon Time: a guide to celebrating your menstrual cycle, by Lucy H. Pearce, that I emphatically recommend just about any woman to read. Entry is open Worldwide, with lots of options and very easy to enter (Rafflecopter) – open until May 11th.

4. Lucy is also offering a discount to Becoming Crunchy readers. To get the 20% discount, enter the code MBLP20 (VALID TO MAY 7TH) when you order from The Happy Womb.

I could go on forever about all this stuff, but really I’m just hoping to help a few more people along the path as so many have helped me. I’ve become passionate about this topic because I believe it’s an area where we have been pretty much shafted for a long, long time, and it needs to be let out in the light.

I welcome your thoughts, comments, and questions, and wish you the best in your journey towards greening your period and learning to honour yourself in all your cycles. And I look forward to writing more on this next year…

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2 Responses to “The Cost of NOT Greening Your Period”

  • Dawn says:

    Great post and so important! I will be sharing this on the Raising Natural Kids FB page today! I love the cloth pads – fortunately I have been lucky enough not to have to use anything in the past 4 years due to pregnancies and nursing! SO this gets me thinking – when a woman nurses she isn’t spending money on formula, bottles, and feminine products!

  • Jantil Moon says:

    Really fab post!
    I use cloth pads but mainly as back-up occasionally if I’m not using my Mooncup, the UK equivalent of the Divacup which I was introduced to by a friend about 5 years ago.
    Not long after I started using it my periods became less painful – coincidence? I think not!
    My cousin is contemplating trying cloth pads rather than disposables after we spoke about it when I visited her – it feels like a real triumph to bring another sister into the light! :)

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