Thursday, August 5, 2010

How to Stop the Flow...or at Least Diminish the Byproducts

Warning: Guys, if you're not into bathroom talk (but seriously, what guy isn't?) then you may not want to read any further!

A woman's monthly menstrual cycle is a gift from God - allowing us to have children - while also being a "curse" a female must deal with for 40 or so years! This post will focus on the products to deal with said cycle: specifically tampons. Oh, to be free from these bondages of plastic, synthetic fibers, and waste! Growing up I really didn't think twice about how my choices in menstrual paraphernalia would or even could effect the local landfill. But now when those 5 or 6 days roll around every month, I find it to be in the forefront of my mind.

I know not all ladies, especially those just beginning this journey towards a greener lifestyle, will welcome the opportunity to use a reusable pad or tampon. Sadly, some women are just too grossed out by this. Since I still have no experience with reusable pads or tampons (though I plan to in the very near future), I want to speak to those women who feel they absolutely can't give up single use tampons. I believe in the importance of baby steps, though, and by actually thinking about the kinds of tampons you use, you can make a big impact in the amount of waste you produce and send to the dump.

Pictured below are two commonly used brands of tampons. Both packages contain 18 tampons, but it is immediately clear which puts a far greater strain on our environment.

For simplicity, let's say you use 18 tampons per cycle (some use less, some more, but 18 per box is probably the most common size sold). Eighteen o.b. super tampons, wrappers, and box weigh a mere 2 ounces compared to the 18 Kotex super tampons, applicators, wrappers, and box that weigh in at 6 ounces. Multiply this difference (4 ounces) by an average of 12 cycles per year, and you have an extra 48 ounces (3 pounds) of waste going to the landfill with the Kotex than you would otherwise have if you forgo the applicator and went with a brand such as o.b.. Due to the reduced packaging (mainly because of the lack of applicator), you can fit six boxes of o.b. inside of just one box of Kotex. Are you catching my drift? The beauty is we were made with the most wonderful reusable applicator - and it's attached to our bodies so you can't lose it - our finger! Yes, the first time or two it may seem a bit weird, but it's completely natural and washes off in about two seconds. And you don't have to throw your finger in the trash!

Seeing as I still have a few boxes of o.b.s left over from my coupon queen days (read more about that in this post), I want to use these up before I look into purchasing (or making - explained in this post from Frugal Babe) a more sustainable reusable cloth pad or DivaCup reusable "tampon." So, ladies - have you already stopped purchasing single use menstrual products? If so, what works best for you? Thanks in advance for your input! In a few months when I delve deep into the world of reusable pads and tampons, I'll do another post on my findings. -Carrie


  1. You HAVE to try a cup! It's the only way to go! Nothing to dispose of - possibly ever, or at least for a decade or more. They do take some getting used to, but once you've gotten the hang of it you can never go back. It makes the beginning of a new cycle sooooo much easier and more pleasant.

    Plus they've never been associated with toxic shock, so you can leave them in for up to 12 hours and only have to rinse and clean twice a day (which I have timed so I only have to do at home.) I actually forget about the cup quite often because it's so forgettable.

    I've been using the Mooncup UK for 2 1/2 years and will never go back!

  2. Right on about this unnecessary waste, Carrie! Kotex packages the way they do because women have been taught that their menstrual cycle is icky. Too bad since, as you note, this is how God has designed us. We women need to appreciate our bodies and their exquisitely-designed functions.

    Myself, I am a Diva Cup devotee and have been since May 2008. I encourage all menstruating women to try it. If you have difficult, there are several women who have blogged about their use and offer helpful advice.

    Thank you for boldly addressing this important topic!

  3. Carrie, I forgot to mention that if you would like to delve into the reusables before your supply of o.b.s run out, you can donate them to a women's shelter. They are always looking for donations of sanitary supplies.

  4. What Pigs Don't KnowAugust 5, 2010 at 9:34 AM

    Thanks Annette & Karen for your input!

    Annette - I was wondering about the whole being-away-from-home-cleaning-yourself-up factor. It's good to know you can leave them in for that long so you really can plan for it. I had never heard about the Mooncup until I did a bit of research for this post. I'll probably end up buying a moon & a diva and seeing which works best for me.

    Karen - I did consider donating my final o.b boxes to a shelter. And while I have given surplus personal care items to local shelters and families in need in the past, we're on a pretty tight budget right now, and since I only have a few boxes left I figured I should use them. But otherwise, yes, great idea! -Carrie