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I'll Change Anything But That!

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Most women probably don't realize that 20 billion disposable pads and tampons end up in North American landfills every year. We don't spend every cycle thinking about the impact that chlorine-bleached products have on our health and our environment.

"It's a Keeper," he said, handing me a pamphlet. "It's like a reusable tampon." I stared at the picture. A reusable menstrual cup? How did it work? And why was I hearing about it from David?

By the time I reached my last year of university, I considered myself to be a pretty active enviro-chick. But somehow, despite the eco-awareness I'd developed in other areas of my life, I had avoided taking a close look at the environmental impact of my choices in menstrual products. Ironically, until David pointed it out, I didn't realize that I had other choices.

Most women probably don't realize that 20 billion disposable pads and tampons end up in North American landfills every year. We don't spend every cycle thinking about the impact that chlorine-bleached products have on our health and our environment. We don't stop to consider the contents of the tampons and pads that we wear every month. It's time that we did.

Easy Alternatives

Alternatives to conventional menstrual products are as close as your local health food store. As I learned after my first exposure to The Keeper, women today don't have to settle for products that threaten our health and our environment. Convenient, effective, comfortable, and earth-friendly options exist to suit every woman.

Many women begin their foray into the world of menstrual alternatives by choosing chlorine-free disposable products made of organic cotton. Organic Essentials and Natracare whiten their organic pads and tampons with hydrogen peroxide instead of chlorine bleach. In addition to having a reduced environmental impact, these products seem to be well-tolerated by chemical-sensitive women.

Reusables: Not What They Used to Be

Washable pads have come a long way since your grandmother used them! Janet Trenaman, owner of Many Moons, approaches the business of pad-making with dedication and a sense of fun. Her pads are available in undyed organic cotton or in a range of nylon-lined prints, including pretty florals, racy leopard spots, and even polar bears. They fasten easily to underwear with wings that fold underneath and snap together. All pads come with two removable liners and clear washing instructions, making cleanup simple.

Tampon Alternatives

Women who have worn tampons for years may not want to switch back to pads, preferring instead the convenience of internal products. Reusable menstrual cups, such as The Keeper or The Diva Cup are the ideal solution. With a little practice, these rubber or silicone cups can be easily inserted and worn for up to 12 hours at a time. Menstrual cups have numerous benefits: they are ideal for travel and camping, they don't dry out vaginal tissue from excessive absorption, and they are reusable for 10 years or longer.

Although menstrual cups have been around since the 1930s, I admit that I purchased mine with some trepidation. I was reassured by the money-back guarantee offered by the manufacturer. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was more comfortable than a tampon. These products are safe, innovative alternatives that give women the convenience they have become accustomed to using conventional products.

It may seem ironic that I first learned about reusables from a man, but women's choices in menstrual products affect all of us; we are all concerned with shrinking landfill space and chemical pollution. We have a choice in the menstrual products that we use. Many women feel empowered by switching to an alternative menstrual product. Some find that their understanding of their cycle shifts entirely. At the least, their decision to use an alternative product has a positive impact on the planet.

Why Use Reusables?

  • Save money and the environment: each cup and pad can be used hundreds of times.
  • Health: menstrual cups and pads won't absorb your natural vaginal fluid as tampons can.
  • Convenience: never run out of product while away from home!
  • Comfort: pads let your body breathe while flexible cups conform to your shape.
  • Happy menstruation: women have reported less irritation, fewer yeast infections and even less bleeding and cramping when they switch to alternative products.

Product Websites

Many Moons pacificcoast.net/~manymoons/moons.html
Natracare natracare.com
Organic Essentials www.organicessentials.com
The Diva Cup divacup.com
The Keeper thekeeperinc.com

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