Green thinking – Red Flow. Part 3: Alternatives

green-thinking-red-flow-part-3-alternatives

We live in a world with a million products to choose from – many of which are made with ingredients we do not know what are, and which have never been tested for potential harming effects on neither humans nor the environment!

More and more women suffer from hormonal imbalances and other “lifestyle” illnesses. And people ask themselves why?
PCOS and endometriosis are becoming more and more common.

Some find the cure to their problems in hormonal treatments or other medicines; others in lifestyle changes.
I became curious as to the cause…
Well, actually it started out with me wanting to write a series of posts raising awareness to the environmental burden of disposable conventional menstrual products… But what I found made my mind boggle and changed my focus.

This 3 part series is my research on menstrual products – the disposable and the reusable ones – and the effect they have on the human body.

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Nor is this a sponsored post! 
For more background information on me - please read my disclaimer 
and disclosure.

Small facts with big implication: 

This post series is about menstrual products and their impact on the human body.
(Read “Part 1: Awakening” here and “Part 2: Chemicals” here)

In order to write something meaningful about this topic, I felt like I needed to do a great amount of research – testing things I thought I knew and getting some new knowledge along the way.

In this third and last post I am going to share with you the research I did on the alternative and natural menstrual products that are available to us. I know for sure that I am not going back to the conventional products after learning the truth about the chemicals used in them.

What this really boils down to is “knowledge” and whether or not you are awakening to the truth…

I knew half of the truth but chose to close my eyes to the rest – I am ashamed to admit it but there it is…
Out of convenience and habit I ignored what I knew to be true for a long time and I hurt myself in doing so.

This is my awakening and I hope that you will read along, as well and help make a difference by doing so – for you; for me; for us all, really!

A few environmental facts to get us started:
In Denmark (a small country in Scandinavia with around 5 million inhabitants) 1 million tampons/pads are used every day!
That is a whooping 365.000.000 every year!!!

Studies have shown that a tampon takes 50-100 years to decompose, while a pad takes at least 150 years!!!
Just think of that for a while!

The alternatives: 

Organic, non-bleached cotton tampons and pads:

This is the alternative that comes closest to the conventional products.
They are still disposable  and you would use them the exact same way that you used the conventional products – no need to learn any new techniques for this alternative.

Being organic though, they are free of the chemicals and all the “unknown” stuff that’s present in the conventional products.

The only real change for you with this alternative, would be finding the product!
I don’t know how it is in your country – maybe you are lucky and they sell them in your grocery store…?
Here in Denmark we are not that lucky.
But special health food stores carries them and they are available online.

There are different brands – Try searching on Google after “organic cotton pads/tampons”.

Given that they are disposable they are not the best alternative environmentally speaking.
They are actually the alternative that creates the most waste, as they create the same amount of waste as the conventional products.
So if you are going for a “zero waste” solution, this is not for you!

They are not the alternative for you either, if you are looking to save money.
These products are a bit more expensive than the conventional products.

Organic cloth pads: 

Now this is a reusable alternative… And therefore waste minimizing.

However, some of you might be thinking “no flipping way!”. And I get that…!
It does seem a bit like going back in time to a more complicated solution. I thought so too to begin with…

The thing is though, that a lot of improvements have gone into this product!
It is not like those (close to horror) stories my grandmother can tell about wearing cloth pads as a young woman.

They fit and they stay put – you just have to get used to using them.

There are a lot of different designs – and even patterns – to choose from.
(Again, a Google search will bring you closer to the companies and web shops selling these).

You can choose a pad that fit you needs – just like you can with the conventional ones.
They make panty-liners, regular pads, night pads and more.

They are more maintenance demanding – you will need to rinse, soak, wash and hang them to dry after each use.
Depending on the brand you buy, there are different instructions on how to wash them.

Will they save you money?
I think that depends a bit on how much money you will end up spending on cleaning them…
I haven’t done the math, because it really does depend on where you live.
However – some of the web shops have the math lined up for you.

Initially you will have to spend some money buying the amount of pads you will need, but then once you have bought them, you won’t have the expense of buying new pads for a long time.
In fact – according to the websites I have looked at, a cloth pad will last for 5 years, with proper care.

Sea sponge tampons: 

This is a party reusable product – it is waste minimizing, but they do have to be replaced every 3-6 months!

Sea sponge tampons are completely natural sea sponges that come from the ocean.
Here they are harvested in a sustainable way from the ocean floor, as the sea sponges that are a naturally renewable resource, capable to regrow after the harvest. Make sure to read about how the sponges are harvested on thee website of the company you choose.
They are washed, inspected, and trimmed before they are sold.

(They are NOT the same sponges you might buy to wash dishes with!!!)

They come in different sizes and can be trimmed to fit you perfectly.
The amount of blood that can be absorbed by the sponge depends on the size you buy!

You soak them before use, squeeze the water out and roll the up in a tampon shape before you insert them.
They are changed as often as you need, just like a regular tampon – but should not sit longer than 3 hours at the time.

The sponges can be left in during sex, for mess-free sex during you period. Afterwards it must be removed and rinsed thoroughly. They do NOT work as a contraception and they do NOT protect you from STD’s!

After you are done using them, it is very important to clean the sponge very well and make sure that they dry properly before you store them. If they are not taken proper care of, they can cause bacterial infections.
If they rip apart when you insert them or take them out, you should trow it out and replace it!
Read more on how to take care of the sponges on the website where you buy them.

Will you save money? The sea sponges vary in price depending on size and which company you buy them from, but they retail at around $12-20. Depending on how much money you usually spend on tampons, these can be a money-saving alternative.

A reusable menstrual cup:

This is the alternative I chose!

It is a reusable alternative and by far the most waste minimizing alternative as the menstrual cup lasts 10 years before it needs to be replaced.

There are a lot of different brands that make menstrual cups.
They all vary a little bit in design but in function they are the same – the big difference between them is the material. Most menstrual cups are made from rubber or medical-grade silicone, making them easy to fold and insert into the vagina.

I personally use The Diva Cup, which is made of medical-grade silicone, which makes it an alternative for women with latex allergies.

A menstrual cup is an alternative to a tampon. However it collects the blood rather than absorb it.
You wash the cup before you use it, fold it together and insert it so it sits a few inches under the cervix.
Remember to make sure that it has properly unfolded inside the vagina so there won’t be any leaks.
You can wear it for 6-12 hours at the time, depending on your flow. After use you empty it into the toilet and then wash it using a soap specially made for vaginal use. Then it is ready for reuse.

Many of the brands offer two sizes – the larger one is intended for women over 30 who have delivered a baby vaginally.

If you are not sexually active, a menstrual cup might not be for you – but it really does depends on you and your body.
It can also be a problem it you have a very heavy flow. I found that to be a problem when my period was really heavy. However with a few more changes and a pad of some sort it can be used.

I will say that it took me a few tries to get used to the cup and get the hang of how to insert it. However, now that I got that down, I love my menstrual cup. I have two – one for my purse and one for our bathroom here at home.
Some women find that it hurts a bit to remove, because of the vacuum it makes in the vagina. In mine there are small holes around the upper rim to prevent this. I also find that removing it slowly helps, as well as removing it at a slight angle. I only every experienced that it hurt the very first time I removed it – and I do believe I did it too fast, treating it like a tampon.

Menstrual cups are not linked to TSS (Toxic Shock Syndrome)!

Most of the menstrual cups are a bit expensive to buy – the Diva Cup costs around $35.00 – but as mentioned above it can last up to 10 years before it needs replacement, when taken proper care of.

So there – those are the alternatives I have found.
There are a lot of different products – something for every preference, I think.
I believe the main thing is to try them out, even though they might seem a bit weird… Do your own research on the different products and see what you think.
We have been taught for so long that the conventional products are the “right” products for us. Maybe we just need to re-school ourselves?

I hope you learned something from this series of posts.
I hope they have made you think about what products you use and what effects they have on your body and the environment.

If you haven’t read the two previous posts in the series, you can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

Thank you so much for reading along.

Please, feel free and welcome to comment down below. I love hearing from you.

Love <3
AK 

 

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