I can't believe I'm writing this. I've actually intended to for years, but, well, as you'll see it's a bit of a delicate matter. And, well, it probably shouldn't be coming from me. Oh well...
About two or three years ago I was involved in several campaigns on Duke's campus relating to various social issues. One of the campaigns was to try to minimize the amount of factory farmed meat used on campus. Most of the people involved were vegetarians or vegans and then there was me. At the time and I guess now as well, my biggest concern with factory farming of animals was the labor issue. I'm concerned about what happens to people when they have to interact with animals in conditions which are disrespectful to those animals (just as I'm concerned about what it does to someone to be in the military and be trained in violence and to kill other humans, to witness horrors, to be exposed to acute stresses - the recent homicide and suicide rates may give us some clue). Some of the female students at the time were also working on an environmental campaign to minimize the amount of waste that comes from the use of tampons. The thinking, as I remember it, was twofold. First, there is just the material waste inherent in disposable products. Second, the cotton used is generally bleached or chemically treated in ways that may pollute communities in which they are manufactured and pollute the bodies of women who use them. Most commercial tampons on the market today contain rayon and trace amounts of dioxin, a potentially toxic by-product of chlorine-bleached products. They were recommending either unbleached, natural cotton tampons or a reusable menstrual cup. Since then, I've been around several conversations when one of my female friends brings up the idea of a reusable menstrual cup and generally the response among the other women is one of bafflement, having never heard of a product like the DivaCup. It's that reaction that made me decide to write this. But what do I know? If it's common knowledge, or they are in common use, we can just forget about this post. And let's face it, I'm not dumb enough to tell woman how to relate to their menstrual cycles, but the friends I know that use them do appreciate the cost savings over continually buying tampons and that it helps decrease the billions of tampons and pads that are dumped into landfill and sewage systems each year in the U.S. alone.
For more information or to locate a store, see: The Diva Cup
iHerb is selling them at the moment at almost half price.
See also: BUST blog, The Bitten Apple.
There's even a Facebook group.
I know, I know, I didn't really see me blogging about environmentally responsible feminine hygiene choices either...and doubt I will again...so back to your regularly scheduled internet browsing.