My uterus began to cramp so I boiled the kettle for a tea. Admiring my op-shop mug collection, my KeepCup caught my eye. I am mindful of my wastage when I order a takeaway latte so why can't there be something like that for my period? A quick google search of ‘alternatives to tampons’ showed me that there was in fact a re-usable, washable cup for periods. Before trying out a menstrual cup I wondered: How do they work? Will they impact my freedom? My confidence? Will they cramp my style?’
Each month it becomes more and more difficult to ignore the fact that tampons and pads lightly bleed the earth of its natural resources. It takes a tampon or pad centuries longer than the lifespan of a woman to degrade in landfill and a woman will use on average about 11,000 tampons in her lifetime. They are a convenient but wasteful solution, period.
I began with the menstrual cup one day when the clouds were low and mother nature had just begun punching me in the uterus. As debilitating as periods can be, I’ve learnt to be grateful for mine — to go with the flow. But this was a new challenge. After reading about how to insert the cup, I implemented the ‘C-fold’, which was achievable albeit harder than it looked. Eight hours passed and I checked on the cup. Being in such close contact with my period blood, which was simply tipped down the loo, made me feel far from squeamish, initiated rather, into womanhood.
Happy days, sort of. It took me a few cycles to figure out how to make the menstrual cup work for me. Some days, I had to wear a liner so I bought a washable organic cotton cloth-pad to absorb any undisclosed lady business. A cloth pad requires hand-washing and is best dried in the sun to avoid stains. This makes it difficult in share-houses, while travelling or when enduring long grey winters. Since a sizeable percentage of the earth’s population endures these days of shedding, I see it as a step towards mindful menstruation and shame-free periods. Screw the taboo!
By using cups and cloths over tampons and pads, the amount of the earth’s resources being disposed of into landfill is lowered. It also reduces the demand for stinky sanitary disposal bins, which is a huge industry costing businesses, councils, governments and essentially tax payers. The contents of the bin — the harmful chemicals and plastic wrappers, pads and tampons, are transported and then incinerated or added to landfill. With a cup and cloth, warm water and the sun’s magical antibacterial powers are put to good use. Sure they involve more effort, but your lady-garden’s precious flora will thank you!
Using a menstrual cup allows you to really get to know your cycle. It may not be for every woman but it is definitely worthwhile trying. At the very least, these mindful solutions are a reminder for women that during periods, we can take action against the pollution of the earth — even while enduring days where tea, baths and hot chips may be dominating the mental space that is commonly reserved for things like environmental issues.
This article was written by Sheridan Butler of Life of Shish
To check out her past work, head to her website here