A certain topic has crept into the news this week and it’s really been irritating me….

I’ve held back writing this post, as I know it will polarise my following and some of you won’t agree with me, but sometimes the hardest things to say are those that need to be said.

Ok…. here goes….

All the hype in the media about adding the GST to tampons (aka the “tampon tax”) is getting on my nerves. And it’s not because of the obvious “feministic” (is that even a word??) reason of opposing a tax that impacts only women. It’s because those opposed to the tax want a single-use, “essential” item tax-free for Australian women.

Can you see the problem here?

Which basically equals disposable. Used ONCE. Wasteful.

Are they really? Aren’t there more sustainable options out there?

In fact, you could even argue placing an environmental tax on the bloody things!

Ok, jokes aside…..

Menstrual products are a big business and an even bigger waste problem in this beautiful country of ours.

You see, the average menstruating woman uses around 300 tampons or pads each year and 10,000 in her lifetime (at a cost to her of over AUD 3,300!). The production and disposal of tampons and pads contribute significantly to landfill volume and pollution of our air and waterways.

To put it in perspective, the waste issue is a bit like disposable nappies but magnitudes BIGGER; babies are in nappies for around 2-3 years. Women menstruate for around 40 years!

I know. Scary huh…!

But it doesn’t have to be scary, wasteful and in this modern era of information overload, it doesn’t even need to be taboo.

There IS a more eco-friendly, safer, convenient and reliable option to tampons out there and it’s called the menstrual cup.

If you’re squirming in your seat right now, that’s okay.

I get it. Really, I do.

Because a few years ago I was squirming at the thought of them too. But these days I’m truly converted.

My initial reason to make the switch from tampons to menstrual cups over five years ago was to reduce the waste and cost of tampons and pads, but nowadays it also includes eliminating exposure to toxins in disposable sanitary products.

According to Mercola, tampons and pads contain dioxins, synthetic fibers, petrochemical additives, odour neutralizers and fragrances. Potential side effects include hormonal and endocrine disruption, immune system suppression, abnormal tissue and cell growth and more.

Reusable menstrual products such as a menstrual cup and cloth sanitary pads are a healthier, eco-friendly and cost effective alternative.

Silicone menstrual cups are an easy-to-use, safe, and hygienic alternative to pads and tampons. To use simply fold and insert like a tampon. They work by collecting (rather than absorbing) blood and requires emptying (not changing) every few hours. Depending on your flow it can last up to 12 hours! Now I don’t know of any tampon or pad that can offer that kind of freedom!

It gets better too!

Made of medical-grade silicone, menstrual cups are latex-free, odourless and safe. Since they’re not conducive to dampness, outbreaks of vaginal candidiasis, cystitis or toxic shock syndrome they’re much safer than tampons.

Switching to a menstrual cup may require you to shift your mindset (I must admit I thought about it for a while before I built up my nerve) and of course it won’t be for everyone, but I can honestly tell you that this is one purchase that ticks the health, environmental and financial boxes and for that you should take note!

If you just can’t get your head around using a menstrual cup but wish to reduce the waste and financial cost associated with your period, you may be interested in reusable sanitary pads, or “Mumma Pads” as they are colloquially known.

Cloth sanitary pads are built with snaps to hold them securely to your underwear (rather than the adhesive strip on disposables).  Washable and reusable, they typically feature a layer of bamboo and organic cotton for absorbency and a hidden waterproof layer to help prevent any leaks.

Caring for your cloth sanitary pads is easy. Rinse immediately after use, then place in a bucket or waterproof bag until you’re ready to wash. You can even wash them with your regular laundry.

The mainstream advertising industry has yet to cotton on to reusable menstrual products but I can assure you, I enjoy more freedom and achieve more in my day using a menstrual cup than I ever did using tampons. I also have more energy and feel healthier during that time of the month.

If you’re interested in learning more about reusable menstrual cups, you can read an article I wrote here, or listen to a feature I recently contributed to on menstrual cups by the GreenRoom in Sydney a few weeks ago here. You can also purchase menstrual cups here and cloth sanitary pads here.

I really encourage you to consider making the switch.

It’s the best way you can avoid the tampon tax. 😉

PS – switching to reusable menstrual products is one small thing you can do to make big impact on our environment. For a heap of other small things, check out my eGuide, “Think Global, Act Local – 101 Small Things you can do to Help Our Environment”, available for purchase here.