So I am inspired to do this post as it is, unsurprisingly, what a few girlfriends of mine have asked me most about (in a very quiet voice). What happens when I have a period – how do I go non plastic free then? (And I haven’t entirely managed it!)
For the tampon replacements, I do and will be using Mooncup. It is made of silicone and comes in a cardboard (small) box and has a small bag it comes in for easy transportation (also non plastic). To clean it is fairly simple wash after each use/wipe if no water available, and at the end of your period boil it in water for a few minutes. What is great about the Mooncup is that it is free from the toxins that cause TSS, which many traditional tampons have in them. Although rare TSS is potentially deadly. It is also a lot cheaper! It cost me just over £20 (I bought it at Boots) and that is it for years (I don’t want to say life, because who knows). Whereas an average period costs me around £5-8 in tampons.
Other products similar to Mooncup are available, I personally have only ever used this one. Some suggestions for those wanting to look at alternatives are:
http://divacup.com/ Diva Cup
http://www.ladycup.eu/ Lady Cup
My top tip when using them is to give them a good few goes and to not be scared to alter them – e.g. a lot of people end up cutting off some of the stem.
For those who want to go non plastic but can’t face a Cup have a look at these Natracare Tampons made from organic cotton that are plastic free:
For Sanitary Towel Replacements
I am also starting out replacing my sanitary towels with reusable ones. I bought mine from Precious Stars (http://www.preciousstars.net/shop.html) and I think they look fab!
Just as a warning the ones not patterned do seem rather big but they are for really heavy flow/ night time use. I have yet to use these so will add a review once I have used them a few times to this post. The smaller ones are day ones and the size I expected. Again these are cheaper but only if you go onto use them rather than give them a go once. I bought just under £50 worth of stock (and gave a few away to a friend to try). This will do me for several years (again could be for life). Each period I spend around the £4 mark on sanitary towels, so I expect to save a lot.
Again in theory (as not yet used) easy to clean. Soak and then put in a wash load (on their own, I figure,) and you are good to get next time.
I have been told by a friend that they do unfortunately include a bit of plastic. (I think the buttons maybe plastic too on closer inspection). They definitely include a layer of PUL, or polyurethane laminated fabric, which stops the pads from soaking through – it is still better than keeping buying plastic each month. It is disappointing, but as my friend says proves how hard it is to avoid it completely! However, as I have bought them I am sticking with! My friend though makes her own – cloth pads – from her own clothes (maybe if you can manage this, this is THE ultimate plastic free option).
Again there are other places you can try others and here are just some I have found so far (if anyone tries any please drop a review below as it would be really helpful). I have found:
http://www.earthwisegirls.co.uk/reusable-sanitary-towels-c-1.html Earthwisegirls does a wide range of choices (flows) and colours.
http://www.cheekywipes.com/ – you have an option to buy in a bulk order – you may have to ask about packaging though as am not sure if comes in a plastic box (from a picture)
Again with both of these check out the PUL amount if you want to be completely plastic free! That was my aim but I haven’t quite managed it…. Can’t wait to hear more of your stories to see how you are getting on.
Some of the facts that informed my decision to switch
In a year 1 billion tampons and sanitary towels are disposed of in Britain alone (Tunstall, 2009). I also learnt that one pack of ‘normal’ sanitary pads is made from the same amount of plastic as four carrier bags. ( Ottaway, 2014) Apparently the average woman uses 17,000 pads in her lifetime which is around 4,857 plastic carrier bags per woman. There are around 30 million women in Britain ( Ottaway, 2014). Although some sources vary this figure with Tunstall quoting it as only 11,000 sanitary items – even that still works out at £90 per year! (2009) Now the least thing I want to do is guilt trip anyone – periods are bad enough without that! However, I figured that these figures helped me think about the choices I make each time I buy products for my period and so I thought I would include them so people at least have some information (there is plenty more out there too, this is just a few to get you going!)
I am also starting to read more and more around BPA (in particular) and the toxins it seems to produce. Not all plastic has this in (but a lot does). I intend to blog on this in the next few weeks after more reading and research. However, for myself at least, the more I read about plastic the less I want it in products I use relating to my body or food. More to follow….
Tunstall, J., (2009) Toxin-free, easy to use and eco-friendly: What’s not to like about the Mooncup . Retrieved 8/1/16 from: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/ethicallivingblog/2009/aug/17/eco-friendly-periods-mooncup
Ottaway, S., (2014) Sanitary Pads: The same amount of plastic as carrier bags . Retrieved 8/1/16 from //www.bigissue.com/features/soapbox/4094/sanitary-pads-the-same-amount-of-plastic-as-four-carrier-bags