For 10+ years, I never really questioned the standard of disposable menstrual products, other than some vague curiosity when reading historical fiction. My lack of questioning was due, at least in part, to the fact that for most of those years, I never bought any tampons or pads because my bargain-hunting mother stockpiled a lifetime supply (or so it seemed). Between coupons, sales, and rebates, she never paid anything near full price for said items, and our bathroom cabinets were overflowing with feminine products. (Hi Mom, I love you!) I’m not complaining, because my mom’s savvy shopping and generosity no doubt saved me a lot of money, but it may have delayed my exploration of alternatives.
But four females can go through A LOT of tampons, pads, and liners, and the supplies eventually dwindled. Plus, oh hey, I haven’t been living at home for more than 8 years now. I’m an adult, maybe it’s time I bought my own tampons. So I’m buying my own, halfheartedly looking for coupons and sales, experimenting with the cheaper generic options, all while trying to reduce my environmental impact, and I start to wonder, “What did women do before we had disposable menstrual products? There have to be some alternatives out there. What are my options now?”
Forty or so years of tampons and pads adds up to quite a bit of trash, but this, as with most “disposable” products of various types that cram store shelves today, represents a relatively new phenomenon. Today we have non-disposable options that are just as convenient as disposables and more technologically advanced than just using a rag.
My questioning first led me to menstrual cups. There are a few options on the market (for a whole blog just about menstrual cup options, click here), and after a bit of looking around, I took the plunge and ordered a Diva Cup just over a year ago. I tested it out on our trip to Glacier — I guess a camping trip is as good a time as any, though I brought backup tampons just in case.
The ensuing months of being a Diva were filled with ups and downs, sometimes it was great, and the cup performed wonderfully. Other times, including the most recent time around, I struggled to get the cup to make a seal, necessitating multiple adjustments, during which I used so much toilet paper and water that a tampon probably would have been the more sustainable option. Thoroughly frustrated, and ready to just throw the darn thing across the room (which would have been messy), I turned to the insertion techniques on the Diva Cup website, and, whatta ya know, with a few simple changes, I was back on track.
Now, for the part about the party in my pants. After eleven months [mostly] without tampons, I had one thing left to address — the disposable liners. Enter the Party in My Pants (PIMP) products, which I first mentioned here. I’m only two months into my PIMP experiment, but so far so good. They’re effective, cute, and easy to carry, use, and clean. Now that I’ve made the initial investment (I waffled on this purchase for a few weeks), I won’t go back to disposables.
Curious? You too can be a green diva with a party in your pants.
I’ve had my first month of zero disposable feminine products (I also got my liners from PIMP). I’m with you… I don’t see ever going back! They are so much more comfortable. I got by fine with a relatively small supply of 4 liners (I just had to stay on top of the laundry). I love the snap design. It keeps it closed when not in use, which makes me feel like it’s more sanitary. The snap also helps keep it in place when in use. Love it.
I’ve thought about the DIVA cup and other other similar options. I worry about problems with bacteria. Plus, it looks like it might hurt. For now, I’m happy with just liners.
Thanks for all the info! Glad it’s all working out for you.
I ordered a slightly larger, but still relatively small supply: 5 liners, 1 small pad, 1 medium pad, and 1 overnight pad. I don’t know how these fit for others, but I definitely recommend ordering the free wing extender (under “Extras”).
The cup doesn’t hurt, though you do have to be comfortable with your body (which we all should be!) to use it. Most of the time I just rinse the cup thoroughly, and once a day I wash it with soap. At the end of my period, I boil it for 10 minutes, as recommended. They recommend replacing it every year, which would somewhat negate the whole green aspect, so mine is entering year 2 of use.
I’ve always been hesitant to try these methods. Perhaps I’ll give it a go.
I waited to write this post until I was sure I wasn’t going back to disposables. That took a little longer with the cup than the liners, but I can now confidently recommend both. The only thing that can be a little tricky with the cup is public bathrooms — having access to a sink without having to leave the stall would be nice, but there are ways to work around this obstacle.
Sea sponges are the best!!!!