Guys, gals and non-binary pals, please welcome to the stage the rising star of the period world: the menstrual cup, fast becoming known as the new eco-friendly and cost-effective alternative to sanitary pads and tampons.
But what are the benefits of using one? And why is it so much better for the environment? While pads and tampons are partly bio-degradable cotton, they are also single use products which contain plastic in the form of applicators and packaging. Comparatively, menstrual cups are re-usable, long lasting, and made of silicone - an easily recyclable material. The average women might use thousands of pads and tampons in her lifetime, but just one menstrual cup can last up to ten years before it needs replacing. Just like making the switch to keep-cups from disposable coffee cups, changing to a sustainable menstrual cup can have an equally positive impact on the environment.
As luck would have it, many women find menstrual cups easier to use in comparison to traditional period products. Long-term cup user, Bethany, says using her cup is, 'so much less effort compared to pads and tampons. Rinsing it is comparable to (but less fiddly than!) wrapping up a pad, and there’s no need to dispose of it whenever I empty it. I don't need to stock up and spend money on it every month like I did with pads and tampons. I just need to remember where I put it!'
Bethany is one of many women who prefer the sustainability and ease of the cup life, contributing to both a happier bank balance and a happier environment. Many women wear pads with their cups to catch leaks on heavier days, but tampons could effectively be written out of the equation - especially given menstrual cups pose little to no threat of toxic shock syndrome in comparison.
Continued emphasis on encouraging positive conversations about menstruation, sustainability and intersectional access will not only tackle period poverty and sustainability, but also combat societal stigma surroundings periods. While they can be intimidating at first, a small amount of fore-thought and background reading can absolutely help you make this small change, which will have great benefits for the environment - and your purse!*
* NB: some women may not be able to use cups because of vaginismus or trauma. If you need help with either of these, please chat to your GP about it.
Hey Girls is a Scottish Social Enterprise which sells environmentally friendly, ethically sourced menstrual products including cups, on a "Buy One Give One" scheme, so for every product you buy they give one away to help girls and young women in need. "We seek to enrich the lives of girls and young women in the UK by exercising social and ethical responsibility in every aspect of our work—from where we source our products through to our supply chain, and the way we run our social business." Visit www.heygirls.co.uk for more information and to purchase your cup!
The Falkirk Flo Sisters offers information and support on menstrual and incontinence care, including information on CSP, cups, period pants and many more eco-friendly ways to use during your periods, as well as information on reusable incontinence products such as pads, pants, bed protection - this is of course open to men and ladies. See their facebook page for more information.
Article published in Konect October 2019
This article was contributed by Cara McKeown. Cara is studying Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh, and her interests include theatre, bachata dancing, intersectional feminism, and environmental sustainability.