Aunt Flow is Going Green.

February 3, 2011 at 12:20 pm Leave a comment

We all have to live through it. We all have our own code name for it. We all have our own ways of coping with it. But when’s the last time we thought about the environmental and health impacts of our feminine obligation?

The harsh truth is that most feminine products are a nightmare for the Earth and can be sources of chemical poisoning for our bodies. It’s estimated that the average woman menstruates for 35-40 years of her life and generates 250-300 lbs. of waste from feminine products. (I wonder what the eco-footprint due to increased chocolate consumption during that time is?)

Health-wise, many tampons are made from rayon-cotton blends, which are often chlorine-bleached. This subjects us to the cancer-causing chemical dioxin in an area where we definitely don’t want it. This particular toxin tends to builds up in fatty tissue and has been linked to endometriosis, immune-system suppression, and other health problems.

So what’s a girl to do? We have to take care of it somehow. Luckily there are a range of options, based on your comfort level and various convenience factors. I’ll start with the more extreme and work my way towards a slightly smaller change.

First we have the “Outerwear”… cotton, reusable pads. Made to look like the disposables we all know, but made of cotton and built to last. Gladrags and Lunapads are two brands I’ve read about, but feel free to do some research based on your own needs.

Next up in the same category are natural pads. The same disposable pad we’ve used for years, just made out of organic bleach-free material. It takes a bit out of the squeamish factor since you don’t have to wash and reuse, but still makes up for some of our eco-footprint. Natracare and Seventh Generation both carry these products, as well as other smaller companies.

For those of us that like to keep things a bit more contained, we have menstrual cups and a range of natural tampons:

There are several different brands of menstrual cups but they all have the same idea. They do cost a little more than the other alternatives but are reusable and last so they end up being a more efficient purchase. They are made in various sizes and materials. Many women use them these days so you can find a plethora of information on any questions you have as well as tips for which one is the best fit for you.

Another green alternative is using sea sponge tampons. It seems a little odd using something out of the ocean to manage this time of the month, but they are very absorbent and leak resistant. Unfortunately they loose some points on convenience since they take a little extra washing and sanitizing than the menstrual cups. A warning I hear all across the board on this one is that they must be properly sanitized or you run the risk of infection, a word we never want to hear when talking about this particular region.

If none of these sound appealing to you or you aren’t quite sure you are ready to switch up your routine too much, there are natural tampons that give you the same feel you are used to but are a better friend to the environment and your body. They are made of organic cotton that’s free of synthetic materials that can be dangerous to our bodies. It allows you to have a lighter footprint without any new washing routines or new products to try.

So there you have it. A run down of the many ways suffering the curse can be a little less of a burden to the environment and ourselves.

For a more comprehensive report and review of these products, read this article from Grist.

Kayla Baake
Enact Intern

Entry filed under: other.

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