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Why menstrual cups are better for the environment

Periods 101
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Why menstrual cups are better for the environment

Did you know that switching to using a menstrual cup is one of the single most valuable things you can do to reduce your personal waste and protect the environment? Our shopping habits have a direct impact on plastic pollution. When we choose products that are coated in plastic, we contribute to the plastic epidemic. Of course you know this, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade and missed Sir David Attenbourgh’s iconic Instagram debut.

We talk a lot about plastic pollution, but we tend to think of straws and shopping bags over period care. If you’re eco-conscious, you’d probably wince at the thought of using 5 plastic straws a day, but you may not make the same association with your tampons. 

Join us as we look at how you can help the environment by opting for reusable period care...


Tides Full of Tampons

The Women’s Environmental Network estimates that average sanitary pads are approximately 90% plastic, while tampons are around 6% plastic. When you do the maths on this, the plastic period waste becomes extortionate. The average menstruator has around 456 periods over the course of their lifetime, which equates to roughly 9,120 tampons. That’s 9,120 pieces of plastic that end up littering the environment, per menstruator. 

Of course, there are provisions in place to help us to discard this waste, but much of it still ends up in our landscapes and on our coast lines.

According to the Marine Conservation Society, 4.8 pieces of menstrual waste are found per 100 metres of beach cleaned. Many people still aren’t sure how to dispose of period waste, with 1.5-2 billion menstrual products flushed down British toilets every year. These items are usually a combination of microplastics and other materials which may end up on our beaches. Peter Kholer, the Founder of The Plastic Tide reminds us that “marine creatures die each year through starvation due to eating plastic that stays in their stomach making them feel full.” 

Tampons for turtles, no thank you. It’s time to make waves in our period care habits.

 reusable nudie period cup

How Can Menstrual Cups Help?

Menstrual cups are such a powerful solution when you consider the extreme level of plastic pollution that can be avoided. The menstrual cup is great for heavy periods (it can hold up to three times the amount of menstrual fluid as a tampon), but it’s also reusable for up to 10 years. 

So, if your average person chooses to use a cup for every period, they will roughly discard only 4 pieces of period care over the course of their lifetime. That’s 4 down from roughly 9,000. The difference in this plastic reduction is wild, don’t you think?

menstrual cups


It’s a Body Shame Issue, as Well as an Environmental One

It seems like such a simple solution, and it is. Wondering why you’ve never been introduced to menstrual cups before? Well, society has a lot to answer for in that respect.  

Many cultures keep period talk to a minimum. The shame around periods has us dashing to the toilet with tampons hidden up our sleeves, and forces young people to keep questions about their bodies to themselves. Because of this period stigma, we’re unused to exploring our options, and so most menstruators still opt for the same old plastic-applicator tampons, without considering the alternatives, or the environmental impact of their sanitary products.

According to gender studies expert, Elizabeth Arveda Kissling, plastic-applicators were actually added into tampons in the Twentieth Century, after doctors became uncomfortable with the idea that young women might come into contact with their genitals when they were inserting a tampon. Heaven forbid. The applicator was added as a barrier to touch, and like much menstrual healthcare, we’ve continued to accept these archaic protocols ever since. For more information about the small but mighty menstrual cup, read our blog all about the history of the period cup.


woman in bath


Menstrual Cups & Body Empowerment

The truth is that many of us are sceptical when we’re introduced to menstrual cups for the first time, and that’s not our fault. We’re a product of our squeamish society. But, there’s power in taking control of our options and exploring how menstrual cups can work for our bodies and for the environment, and menstruators are taking action. In a recent US survey, almost 60 percent of the women questioned were considering a reusable product.

Menstrual cups are not difficult to use. Many find them comfortable & freeing, and find they don’t need to be changed so frequently. You’ll need to test out which insertion method works for you the first time you use it, but what’s the problem with that? Getting to know our own bodies is empowering. And who knows, you may revolutionise the way you think about periods for good, while protecting the environment.

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