How do I take care of my period in an environmentally friendly way?
Most women in the United States deal with their period by using tampons or pads. For a long time, I thought that these were the only options. However, there is a third, superior option that is popular in Canada and other Western countries. It is called a menstrual cup.
What is a menstrual cup? Good question, I'm glad you asked. A menstrual cup is a small cup made of medical grade silicone that you insert in to yourself in order to catch your flow. It can stay in for up to 12 hours before you take it out, empty it, wash it, then re-insert. A single cup can be used for several years.
Where do I buy one? There are two menstrual cups commonly available on the market called the moon cup or the diva cup. I found mine at Whole Foods, but they can easily be ordered online through Amazon. A cup costs about $40 and comes in one of two sizes -- narrow (for women under 30 who have not had children) and wide (over 30 or who have had children). The size is important because the "channel" widens as you age or after you have children.
The cup takes some time to get used to because it can be tricky to learn how to insert it. However, once you get used to it, you will never go back. For me, it completely changed the way I thought about my period. I only have to think about it twice a day -- once in the morning and again before night. Also, some women report that using the cup reduces their cramps. Even women who hate tampons say that they can easily forget that the cup is there at all. Again, all of the female friends I have told now use the cup and love it.
Of course, this solution is environmentally friendly, because you are using fewer resources. Also, it is ideal for avid backpackers, because there is no trash to throw away -- you dispose of your flow in the same way that you dispose of your poop (i.e., in a hole, preferably in the same hole as your poop).
Try it for yourself, I promise you will not be disappointed.
-- Your personal green expert