This may not be the most flattering subject, but some of you have been asking me how I try to stay zero waste during my period.
Let me introduce you to the menstruation cup.
It’s a reusable hypoallergenic cup made of medical-grade silicone. Now before you start throwing tantrums about the reusable bit, I want you to think about the hygienic aspects of a tampon. Most tampons have been treated with chemicals (including plastics) to increase the absorbency.
Tampons don’t just absorb the bits you want it to absorb, they literally consume everything, including the microorganisms and fluids that are supposed to keep the pH at balance. Besides messing up your pH, there is also toxic shock syndrome (TSS) to consider. TSS is a potentially fatal illness caused by a bacterial toxin.
If multiple organ failure and imminent death aren’t enough to make you reconsider tampon use, maybe the fact that bacteria are feasting on the fibres that are left behind will. This, plus the approximate 2300 euros we spend on a lifetime supply of tampons (11.000 of them, give or take) and the amount of landfill that creates, will surely sway you in the direction of the menstrual cup.
A cup collects rather than absorbs, so your natural pH balance is protected, and there is no risk of TSS.
To use the cup, you fold it, insert it and let it ‘pop’ to its original form once you are happy with its position. The cup can be worn for up to 12 hours. You use the same cup for heavy and light days. Once it’s full just empty it out into the toilet, rinse, reinsert and Trash Zero! It needs some practice, and you might be a wee bit nervous about removing it at first, but the cup is so user-friendly that even a toddler could manage to use it; if toddlers had periods, that is.
Important note: keep the cup straight when taking it out and always find a toilet that has a sink nearby! Taking a bottle of water with you in public places is something you should build into your period routine. I’ll save you my story of how the tap didn’t work while traveling by train…