Earth Day is a great day to think about how you give back to the earth. Some people use reusable water bottles everyday (me!). Others bring reusable grocery bags to the store. Maybe you consciously attempt to walk or ride you bike whenever you can. Whatever your gift to the earth is, it’s great to know we can always give back to this great planet.
I feel like there’s no better day than Earth Day for me to blog about something I’ve wanted to share for a while. Honestly, this post is a little scary, but I’m going to be brave in order to tell you about something I consider very important.
Since February, I have been exclusively using reusable menstrual products. Yes, you read that right: I have not thrown away a tampon or pad since January.
You may be reading this and wondering how that’s even possible. Every menstruating person has to use something when they get their period, right? Well, I’ve switched to some alternative products, the DivaCup and Lunapads, that I feel better represent me as a woman and help me reduce the garbage I produce every month.
What are Lunapads and the DivaCup?
Lunapads are a brand of reusable cloth pads that come with changeable liners that you wear just like a regular pad. You change the liners throughout the day when you need to, depending on your flow and personal preference, and you can change the pad base once a day. After your period, you wash the dirty pads and use them again next month!
The DivaCup is a silicon menstrual cup that you wear throughout the day (up to 12 hours!) during your period, emptying it as needed. The Diva Cup can be worn during exercise, in water and overnight.
How did I learn about the Diva Cup and Lunapads?
I’ve known about the Diva Cup since high school when my best friend Hannah started wearing one. At the time, I thought it was a strange concept and a little gross, but I knew it was right for her because she is very environmentally conscious. I never considered getting one for myself.
However, this winter, I had lunch with two of my close friends from high school, Megan and Rachel, and we were talking about the Diva Cup. They were surprised to hear I had never tried one and encouraged me to get one. I asked them a lot of questions and went home that night and did some research.
I found a post from Caitlin Boyle at Health Tipping Point, who had just switched to the Diva Cup. She loved it, as did Kath Younger when she tried it, but I saw at the end of Caitlin’s post a link to another (hilarious!) review of cloth pads. I didn’t even know something like this existed!
I hopped on over to the Lunapads website and instantly fell in love. This company is awesome: feminist, inclusive, eco-friendly and even partners with an organization called AfriPads to get reusable pads to girls in Africa who may not have access to any menstrual care.
I spent the next few weeks trying to decide if I wanted to order anything and I even discussed it with my parents (the first order is pricey so I needed their help) before I finally placed an order. The day I did I was so excited to try this!
I ordered three “Maxi Pads” and seven black liners my first order.
I originally stuck with black because I wasn’t sure how well the stains would come out, but when I ordered the extra liners I got two pink and two teal for fun! They’re also nice at the beginning and end of my period because I can see when it’s started/ending.
The pads are super comfortable. I’ve always preferred pads to tampons, which I think caused my initial hesitation to try the Diva Cup despite it’s environmental benefits. These pads are absorbant, come in lots of different sizes and have beautiful and fun patterns to choose from! Another thing that’s nice about the pads is you don’t have to go into the stall and deal with wrappers and stickiness. These pads snap around your underwear.
The DivaCup took a bit of learning to get used to, but I find myself using it more and more each month. As I said above, I have always worn pads more often than tampons, and the same is still true: I wear my Lunapads more often than I wear my DivaCup.
It took me a few months to really feel comfortable with the DivaCup. Insertion and removal is really a trial and error process and different methods work well for different people. What I did find helpful is this menstrual cup message board, which has TONS of posts about anything and everything related to menstrual cups. In fact, there are a lot of other brands out there that you may like better than the DivaCup (each brand has different dimensions and pliability), so it’s worth a look.
I wear my DivaCup during the day mostly (although I’ve worn it overnight with no problems) and I try to wear it when I exercise, although I have noticed that I definitely feel it when I run and sometimes it bothers me.
Storage and Care
This is the BIGGEST worry of any new cloth pad and/or menstrual cup user. What the heck do I do with them after I’ve used them?!
I find storage and care to be very simple, and I follow the method described in this YouTube video (I love this girl and her channel is all about cloth pads. She’s super relatable and helped me feel confident about switching to cloth.)
I don’t know how I never knew about these things, but they’re really brilliant. The big center pocket is lined with waterproof material, and I put my dirty pads and liners in there when I change them in the bathroom. I also store my DivaCup in there when I’m not wearing it.
In the dry pocket on the outside, I store my clean liners and pads. I usually carry one liner and panty liner with me if I am wearing a pad, or a pad and a liner if I’m wearing my DivaCup when I go out.
When I change my liner, I always spray the dirty liner with this awesome concoction:
Buncha Farmers stain remover is a natural stain remover and it is magical. It’s super cheap and lasts forever. I just put about a teaspoon of this soap into my spray bottle and fill it with hot water. This mixture will last a few months and I can spray them when they are dirty.
Whenever I get back to my room, I put the dirty, sprayed liners and pads into a lingerie laundry bag, where they stay until my period is over. I just wash the pads in the bag and they always come out clean and usually not even stained!
Some cloth pad wearers soak their pads or scrub them, but I don’t really have the luxury because my residence hall has community-style bathrooms. Luckily I have found I don’t need to do that at all!
Whenever I need to change my DivaCup, I just bring a little squirt bottle filled with water into the stall to rinse it out. I also wipe it down with toilet paper. Super simple! I try to find a private bathroom at least once a cycle to rinse it out in the sink, but if you don’t share a bathroom like I do you can likely rinse yours every time you change it.
Over the course of two Lunapads orders (which included my DivaCup), I have spent about $125. These products will last me 3 years (2 years for the DivaCup) or longer, so the cost breakdown per year could be as much as $42 or as little as $20-25. The cost for these products is not any more than what I was spending on conventional products and it can even net a savings if you use your Lunapads long enough.
Why have I stuck with reusable menstrual products?
This is a great question and I have a lot of reasons:
- I like that I no longer have to buy into an industry that teaches us to be afraid of our bodies and our periods instead of celebrating and understanding them.
- I like supporting companies that promote feminism and help empower women worldwide.
- I like looking forward to my period because I feel awesome when I wear my Lunapads and DivaCup.
- I feel like I have discovered a great secret of life when I walk by the feminine hygiene aisle at the store.
- I like not having to throw trash away in the bathroom during my period.
- I like wearing a panty liner that has owls on it.
- I feel more in control of my own body.
I could go on and on, but one thing is for sure: I will never go back to buying conventional menstrual products, and I will continue to support great companies like Lunapads. I hope others learn about the wonders of cloth pads and menstrual cups and incorporate a little green into their periods as well!