The thing about edited or less disposable living is, the absence of something is a lot more exciting than the presence of something – such as the empty trashcan in my bathroom. Every month at the end of my menstrual cycle, I *almost* get teary eyed at the sight of the empty trashcan. It represents progress.
If I were to pick the most rewarding less-disposable change, it would be switching to a diva cup. It is a reusable menstrual cup, worn internally, to collect menstrual flow. It is made of medical grade silicone, typically used to make implants. It does not contain latex, PVC, plastic, acrylics, BPA, Pthalate, Polythylene, Elastomer or dye. Diva is only one of the brands available on the market. There are also Keeper, Luna, Moon etc. Even though the company encourages to replace those every year, some people use a cup for up to 10 years. I have been using mine for around two years (had I known how awesome it is, I would have marked the day and celebrated the newfound sense of well-being every year!). An occasional, good soak with Hydrogen Peroxide keeps it looking like new. A Diva cup runs for about $40 but I bought mine online, on sale for $30. This is nothing when tallied up against the cost of 10 years’ (or even a year’s) worth of disposable products.
The way it works is, it is folded and inserted into the vaginal cavity, where it resumes its shape, forms a seal with the vaginal wall, where it collects the menstrual flow for up to twelve hours. Then it is taken out, the content emptied out in the toilet, rinsed and reinserted. There are ample instructions available on the web on how to use it but the learning curve is not nearly as high as I had initially thought it would be.
The best thing about switching to a diva cup is it makes the user physically feel better. Perhaps it is due to the fact that disposable alternatives are often ultra absorbent products that dehydrate the vaginal area. However, in some extreme cases it can cause health issues such as toxic shock syndrome. As hippie as it sounds, diva cup has helped me be more in tune with my body. For example I would note heavier flow in months with generally unhealthy diet and much lighter flow in months I made better food and lifestyle choices. There are no stench associated with menstruation anymore since the blood is not left exposed to the environment. This has reduced the typically associated squeamishness drastically- not to mention the nonexistence of unsightly trash.
Paired with a winged washable cloth liner (bought in a coop in Montreal) for minor and infrequent slip ups, this zero waste setup is foolproof. No more storing, hoarding or lugging around bulky products. No second thoughts about plunging into the ocean, water park or Jacuzzi. Dancers, scubadivers, athletes swear by it.
I also use washable and reusable everyday liners, bought from an Etsy seller. They are made of flannelette. They dry fast, do not stain, clean well. These are about three years old and have held up pretty well.
Twelve billion pads and seven million tampons pollute the landfills every year and that is only in the US. Even if we are not swayed by its eco impact, let us think about the money wasted onto these products- Money from our wallets. The content of a trashcan (or the lack thereof) can represent progress or opportunity for improvement. For a community or a country, overflowing trash receptacle often characterize unbridled, inconsiderate consumerism and sheer apathy towards others and the ecosystem. Trashcan is a great source of insight for a less disposable lifestyle. Let’s peek more into it!