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My Journey To A Sustainable Period

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Disclaimer: The period product props in these I already had
and didn't buy just for the post

Hello and welcome back to the blog, today I’m gonna be chatting about something we all are well accustomed with, or rather should know more about owing to the pitfalls of the PSCHE classes offered in schools… That’s right periods! I know this topic was ignored as much as sex education was growing up, but I distinctly remember the boys being allowed to go out and play football when as girls we had to sit in the classroom to learn about our menstrual cycles. As a disgruntled 10 year old all I wanted to do was go out and play football, on the other hand as a disgruntled 21 year old I feel that boys should be included in all sex education lessons so there is a greater awareness of periods. Not shading all men, but some are downright clueless when it comes to periods.

Once again at the start of a blog post I appear to have gotten a little side tracked by another rant-style piece, but I feel like I could talk about the pit-falls of sex education another day. For now we’re back to period talk, more specifically a little bit of background with my own periods and where I am now with them in regards to sustainability. Going into this year I decided I wanted2020 to be more sustainable personally, not just in regards to fashion but in all areas of life. This includes that time of the month.

Usual period attire of pyjamas with my new bff the organicup and the handy bag it comes with

My history with periods

I have always used ‘disposable’ products when it came to periods, growing up they were the easy to buy accessible option. From my knowledge it’s only in the last few years that sustainable periods have become a more viable option for most, even then I wasn’t aware of all the options until recently. Anyway my relationship with periods was a little rocky to say the least for a while, due to insanely bad cramping, at the age of 15 or 16 I went on the combined hormonal pill. Whilst on the pill, I had the ‘fake periods’ every month and continued to use just tampons and sanitary towels without thinking of their impact. The cramps went away though, which for me was the main thing as I no longer risked being sick in unfortunate or embarrassing places. (This is what began my unfortunate history with stairs and maths tests…)

Fast forward 5 years, due to constantly forgetting to take the pill on time (all on me) causing a general sense of anxiety whenever I had sex. (Once again, anxiety induced by my own actions) I chose to come off of the pill to see if the cramps were as vomit-inducing as they were growing up and if my skin would improve without the added hormones. Thankfully on both accounts it worked, currently I am debating about going on more permanent form of contraception I can’t mess up so much but that is a story for another day. I still need to do more research into alternatives to the combined pill, but that will probably take a little bit of time to work out. So for now I am back to having a regular cycle and periods that aren’t fake or induced by the pill and wanted to move towards more sustainable options for handling said period every month.

Recently I found out that 90% of standard sanitary towels are made of plastic, factor in the applicator and string of a tampon and that’s almost the entire market of menstrual products that have some form of plastic in them. I found this statistic quite alarming, combined with the presence of carcinogenic chemicals in the products, disposable menstrual products are incredibly bad for the environment. Plastics take years to break down in landfill sites, not only that but over a billion sanitary products every year are flushed down the toilet in the UK meaning these plastics are further contributing to the pollution of our oceans. It is because of this that I wanted to see if I could use an alternative product that would be that bit better for the environment. At the time I was looking for this sustainable alternative, I didn’t know what to choose as I only knew of reusable pads and menstrual cups. Luckily for me the decision of what to use was decided by what was more available to me since a local zero-waste store actually sold the Organicup so I didn’t have to purchase it online.
Menstrual cup image from organicup website

What is the organicup?

The organicup is a menstrual cup made of 100% medical grade silicone, meaning that it is BPA, latex and dye free. Unlike most tampons, this means that it does not contain any harmful chemicals that you’d be putting in your body when using. The high grade quality of the materials used in the creation of the cup also mean that it’s a long-lasting product so although at first it seems expensive at £21 it pays off slowly over time as you don’t have to use any other products.

How it works?

At first it can be a little finicky to insert but there is a really useful tutorial page on the organicup site which shows the two folds you can do to insert it. After that process is over you can leave the cup in for up to 12 hours which I find to be brilliant, especially as the materials of the cup mean Toxic Shock Syndrome is not as bigger risk as it is when using tampons. Not only that but providing the cup is inserted correctly, it is leak proof meaning I feel a lot more confident in the fact that for once my period won’t ruin my favourite pants. I really enjoy using the organicup and find it insanely easy to use both day and night.

Final thoughts

The only issue I find to have with the menstrual cup is needing to boil it to sterilise before every use, and I mean this isn’t an issue if you come on your period at home. Just stick it in boiling water. The issue I find is If you come on when out and about as you can’t boil it as easily, so for this time I do still carry the odd few menstrual products I have left over since I moved to the menstrual cup before I used it all up. When I finish these though I’m thinking of trying the natracare organic tampons I came across recently in Jess’post. Being made of cotton, these tampons can be composted since they contain no plastic. Just chop them up a little and pop them in your compost bin as they take around 12 months to biodegrade. Her post told me this product was the perfect alternative for the moments when I didn’t have time or access to use my menstrual cup. Other than that, I have had no issue with the menstrual cup and have found the transition from normal tampons and pads to be seamless. Really easy for me to do, though I know this isn't the case for everyone, I do strongly recommend them as a product though.

So there you have it, my move to a more sustainable period. Have you tried having a sustainable period? If so, what do you use? I’d love to know in the comments!

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