As a college student and environmentalist, I find it convenient that being environmentally friendly is often correlated with cost saving measures. Examples include using less water and electricity will lower the costs on utilities, buying reusable dishes, hand towels, and containers will save money in the long run.
The information I’m sharing today is all about saving money and producing less for the landfill. Tampons and “sanitary napkins” (pads) are pure waste from an environmental standpoint. While unfortunate, there aren’t many options, and many find it an excusable way to waste. However, there are alternatives.
Plastic “menstrual cups” are an effective, reusable, cost saving device now available. They are made of silicon or rubber and often come in different sizes – pre and post childbirth. Cups cost about ~20$, which while high at the start becomes much lower seeing how they last 10+ years.
They almost completely eliminate the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS). The cotton that once harbored harmful bacteria is gone. Cups are much more comfortable than cotton alternatives, and can be worn up to 12 hours – very convenient. Following this timing, cups have a higher capacity than comparable super flow tampons.
There are a few downsides – insertion can be difficult at the beginning, and there is a relatively large learning curve. This can be off putting. Cups require more maintenance during and after periods, such as regular washing and boiling in the interim. There is some risk of mess as well, but this decreases with practice. Restroom privacy (such as washing between uses) can be an issue.
I broke it down to a Pros/Cons list for an at-at-glance comparison:
Pros: saves money, much less waste, very comfortable, safer than tampons, wear for longer, one will last 10+ years
Cons: occasionally messy, need to be cleaned frequently, can get lost (small), higher up front cost, learning curve
For me, the combination of cost savings and low waste was a no-brainer. For more information, visit Menstrual Cup Community. Thanks for reading!
Written by Alanna Scheinerman, Class of 2013