Environmental Womanhood

I remember when I was young, my mom sat me down to have “the chat”. It wasn’t the sex chat, but the changes I could expect in the following years as I start to go through puberty. I wanted nothing to do with it! A cried and carried on like you wouldn’t believe! I didn’t want anything to do with becoming a woman. Can you blame me? Who wants to bleed for a week every month for 50+ years?!

After that, I don’t recall my mom approaching me about it – until after my period started and I was dealing with that huge mess – walking home from school with a sweatshirt tied around my waist because I had bled through my shorts. The only other time I remember any more conversation around my period had to do with disposing used products – basically, wrap it up, we don’t need to see it! Of course she said it nicer, but that was the basic gist of it and it gave me very strong opinions about this whole messy business!

And that has been the theme throughout my adulthood; the period was shameful and had to be hidden. Even to this day, I don’t even let my husband in the bathroom if it’s during my period! We never have sex during “that time of the month” because I feel dirty. I feel extremely shameful about any of the bodily functions! I am extremely uncomfortable about talking about these things – specifically around my menstrual cycle. It’s my “dirty little secret” which, in reality, isn’t a secret! EVERY woman goes through this! The only “secret” is the when!

So one thing I’ve struggled with is what products to use? There’s been studies done of the harmfulness of using tampons and liners as the skin in those areas are extremely sensitive. Most producers of liners and tampons use materials that are bleached and contain toxins. The skin of the labia is thin and absorbent – as well as the vaginal canal if you use tampons – which means those toxins are entering your system. I’ve known this for years, but I still choose the disposables.

So the first point to #ditchthedisposables is the environmental impact of using disposables. One woman can use 16,000+ pads and tampons over her lifetime – plus there’s the packaging! All of this ends up in the landfill. Plus, for myself and my shame fuelled hiding of the evidence, I use about ½ roll of toilet paper wrapping that stuff up, hoping it doesn’t soak through and betray me as it sits in the garbage can.

As an environmentalist this has always bothered me, but the “ick factor” prevented me from actually jumping on the reusable bandwagon.

About 8 years ago, I got my first Diva Cup. The reason behind this was because, at the time, I was doing physique competitions and the posing suits are VERY tiny. I had forecasted out and determined that I was likely going to have my period when I stepped on stage and I didn’t want to take a chance and have a string peeking out. As it turned out, I didn’t have my period – either because my body self-adjusted (which it’s done before) or my body fat percentage was at the point where my period stopped. I didn’t keep up with the Diva Cup as I had problems getting it in correctly and I still had to wear a pad because of leaking. I use it periodically (excuse the pun!) but not regularly.

Funnily enough, I didn’t have the grossed out reaction I was expecting with removing the cup. Definitely need privacy, though, so no shared bathroom!

Last year I got a couple pairs of “period panties” by Knix. Though I wear them, it’s usually with a tampon… I still couldn’t get past the “ick factor” of feeling like I’ve bled all over my panties!

Over the last few years I’ve been seeing adds for reusable pads. As much as I like that idea, I definitely had an “ick reaction” and I never bought any.

Until the beginning of October.

When I started thinking about it, I decided to move past that ick reaction and bite the bullet. I had an ad for Hannah Pad Canada pop up on my social media one day – and I decided to go for it. It’s like my ads can read my mind! I choked back on the cost – as that’s what prevented me in the past – and realized it’s not THAT expensive! The benefits completely outweigh the negatives! This is how it broke down:  $210 for a full week’s worth – varying sizes and shapes to adjust the flow – should be plenty to get me through! The website say they last about 3 years. So that’s $70 a year which breaks down to $5.83 a month, so that’s about $0.83 a day. And, if I use the Diva Cup in addition to the reusable pads, I could potentially stretch that out to even longer.

The menstrual cycle is one of those things that a lot of people probably don’t think about… or try not to think about, like me! But look around the next time you’re in public. Every single one of those women will have use for hygiene products most of their life. That’s a lot of garbage ending up in the landfill that doesn’t need to. Yes, lots of women will resist using reusable liners and the Diva Cup – but hopefully some may see this and give it a try!

So I ordered the pads on October first, they were shipped on 03 Oct, and I received them on 05 Oct… technically 04 Oct but no one was home to accept the package. And perfect timing as my period started the day I picked them up from the post office! I’ll review my experience in a week – when my period is over and I’ll have had to clean them and everything!

Reusable menstrual pads received!

The fact is, we should ALL be environmentalists – we all live on this planet! – and we can ALL do our part to reduce our carbon footprint. It may not seem like much, but if everyone makes little changes, they can add up to big results! Here are some things you can do:

  • Stop using single use plastics – get reusable produce bags.
  • Go to bulk stores with reusable containers (ie Bulk Barn, or NU Grocery)
  • Use environmentally friendly household/personal products products – especially if they go down the drain into the water system.
  • Go to a store that you can refill household/personal care products (ie Terra 20)
  • Source ethical and sustainable products.
  • Get a set of travel utensils and skip the plastic ones with your takeout.
  • Get a reusable straw – I have stainless steel.
  • Get a SodaStream if you want to drink pop – though the carbonated water with a little lemon is good for me!
  • Donate your clothing and unused household products to the Salvation Army or Good Will.
  • Support local farms if it’s available.
  • Reduce the amount of commercially produced meat products you consume.
  • Use public transit or walk/ride your bike if you’re able or carpool.

I’m certain there’s a lot more, but these were the ones I could think of.

What are some of the ways you reduce your carbon footprint?

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