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5.22.2009

Green Head to Toe Series: MEN, READ THIS ONE AT YOUR OWN RISK!

I'm talking feminine products.

Yep, I'm going there. If you've only thought about going green but haven't taken the plunge yet this is probably the LAST area you would think to change. Well, there are two huge reasons to think about it- your health, and the health of the environment.

First, think about all the disgustingness that you toss every month- whether you're a pad girl or a devoted tampon user, all of that has to go somewhere once you're done with it. Think about that rotting in a landfill. Ew. Even worse, think about it seeping into water supplies. Double ew. The average woman uses 16,800 pads or tampons in her lifetime. I would multiply that by the number of menstrating women, but I just might puke if I do that. Add to that the industrial waste created in producing and bleaching them. = bad for the earth.

Second, tampons and yes, even pads are not good for you. ALL mass marketed pads and tampons create two harmful substances- dioxins and rayon. Feminine product manufacturers are convinced that no one will buy their products if they aren't bleached white. And of course they use chlorine bleach, which creates dioxins. Dioxins are carcinogenic substances that even the EPA says should be completely avoided because they build up in the system and take a long time to disintegrate. It causes damage to the immune and reproductive system (hello, so let's go sticking one in there!) and has been linked to endomitriosis and low sperm counts. Yet they are plentiful in products inserted into the vagina, which is a very sensitive area. The major problem with Rayon is that it is a super absorbant fiber and, when threads are shed from the tampon and left behind they create and breeding ground for bacteria AND continue to release dioxins into the body. And while pads are marginally better, they still come into some contact with this sensitive area. There are also many that SWEAR eliminating pads and tampons has reduced/eliminated the amount of cramping they experience.

So what's a girl to do? I mean, you have to use something, right? Well, there are three options.

Option 1: Find a health food store. Pay too much for unbleached organic cotton pads/tampons (while I'm glad this option exists, I'm not a fan for obvious reasons).

Optioin 2: Mama cloth. Also known as cloth menstrual pads. I have always wanted to know why it's called "mama cloth"- although now that I think about it I kind of know. Obviously you don't have to be a mama to use it, but the term probably came about because many women who use them ARE moms and use cloth diapers on their kids, so when talking about cloth (because those of us who frequent the CD forums always refer to it as either CD or cloth) it was probably natural to refer to the cloth menstrual pads as mama cloth. It makes sense in my brain:)

ANYWAY... there are TONS of places to buy cloth menstrual pads. Mostly only online, but still, you have lots of options. Search either mama cloth or cloth menstrual pads on Etsy and you'll see. It's almost as overwhelming as cloth diapering because there are so many options. Now, I have to say I was never a fan of ANY menstrual pads, so my foray into mama cloth was less than a success. I'm not going to lie. But so SOOO many moms love them, and I'm sure it had most to do with the fabrics I used (and the fact that I made most of my own!).

Option 3: A reusable cup. You heard me. Sound gross? Well, so does a tampon if you think about it, yet millions of girls and women use them every month. If you actually stop and think about it, wouldn't you rather stick a safe, sterile (depending on how you clean it, of course) piece of silicone or gum rubber in your girly parts than a bleached, chemically laden, shedding piece of junk? Maybe I'm biased. This is my choice. It takes a little while to get used to it (you have to get it in just right for it to work and be comfortable- but then it's just like a tampon in the fact that you hardly feel it). It lasts longer than a tampon, you don't have to worry about having one in your purse in case the one you're wearing gives out, and it is SOOO much cheaper than tampons. I bought mine at iherb.com for about $25 (it's by far the cheapest place on the web- they're usually $35 or more)- that's like 4 or 5 boxes of tampons. You can use a cup for up to 10 years. You do the math:) Oh wait, I will:) That could save you at least $600. And the environment. Can't beat that!

Check out this video which covers both mama cloth and menstrual cups. Maybe I'm just a little on the hostile side today but some of those women who are just like "no, it should be thrown out every time!"... I just want to throw things at them.

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