Menstruating waste-free: sustainable and preventable diseases in women | Right away

Now that we are slowly leaving plastic straws, bags and unnecessary packaging with the ever-growing plastic soup in mind, women are still throwing away their menstrual products. The European Commission believes that alternatives are difficult to find. But they are here.

Entrance sleeves, bandages with highly absorbent material, bleached cotton in sanitary bags: menstrual products are the number five Most common Plastic waste on European beaches.

“There are no plastic products in the sea, but rinsing the cups requires a lot of hot water and therefore energy.”

Environment Central

Dutch women throw away about 10,000 tampons or sanitary pads during their lives, environmental central calculated. Alternatives, menstrual cups and washable sanitary towels, are far from new. However, they have only recently made a cautious move.

Menstrual cups have been around for centuries

As early as 1867 Patent pending on the first menstrual cups, but the product did not reach the target group. Only recently are they also in many variations in the drugstores: Looncup, Divacup, OrganiCup, EcoCup.

“Old rags are often used earth, banana leaves; of everything.”

Mascha Singeling

Like tampons, menstrual cups are inserted into the vagina, but the blood is collected in the cup, which can process 10 to 38 millimeters of blood. The menstrual cup should be emptied every four to twelve hours, depending on the menstruation and the type of cup.

A menstrual cup is a small cup of rubber or silicone that is inserted into the vagina and collect the blood there. The cups last for years, about five to fifteen years, but the environmental benefits are hard to calculate, says Milieu Centraal. No plastic products end up in the sea, but rinsing the cups requires a lot of hot water and therefore energy.

Washable sanitary pads in the fight against menstrual poverty

If you want to menstruate waste-free, you have a wide selection of washable sanitary towels, but you have to buy this online. On the craft website Etsy and hundreds of webshops they are for sale: sanitary pads made of organic cotton in beautiful prints. For most environmental gains: must be used for weeks after use and wash at forty degrees.

Washable sanitary pads are not only better for the environment, they also contribute to the fight against so-called “menstrual poverty”; no access to sanitary towels or access to knowledge about hygienic menstruation.

The development organization Plan International is working on menstrual projects in Uganda and Indonesia, among others, and part of the projects is sewing washable sanitary towels in schools, both boys and girls. Disposable materials such as Always and Libresse are also used in these countries, but are often too expensive, says programme manager Mascha Singeling.

In addition, these countries often have poor waste supplies and the hygiene wipes used must be incinerated locally. “Washable towels, in addition to practical and durable ones, helps with hygienic menstruation. Old rags are often used earth, banana leaves; of everything.”

“Our program focuses on breaking the taboo of menstruation so that girls dare to go to school when they have their time and reduce health problems. These include vaginal inflammation by wearing unhygienic old rags for too long, and this is due to ignorance.”