RV enthusiasts love Mother Nature! But for the menstruating half of the population that finds themselves as the recipients of her ‘monthly gifts,’ enjoying the great outdoors can come with some added challenges. Not only do we have to worry about the damaging effects that traditional menstrual products have on our wallets and our bodies, we also have to worry about their environmental consequences too. Luckily, there are environmentally-friendly feminine hygiene products out there that won’t just be better for your old pal Mother Nature, they’ll be better for you too!
Reasons To Seek Alternatives
Just because tampons and pads dominate the multi-billion dollar menstrual industry doesn’t mean they’re the best products for you. Consider all the advantages of switching and ditching your tampons and pads for a smarter and safer alternative!
Anyone who is even mildly familiar with tampons knows that they pose a serious health risk. The warning label is printed right on the box! Toxic Shock Syndrome is a potentially fatal disease that’s linked to tampon use, and since a 1980 outbreak that caused the deaths of 38 women, companies are now required to include this warning label on every box. Other than these label requirements, government regulation over tampon companies is relatively non-existent. Tampon manufacturers are not required to disclose to consumers what exactly is in the products that they are using.
Luckily, independent research has made the guesswork a little more clear, but the answers might alarm you. Pesticides and plastic additives have both been found in tampons, along with a number of other chemically synthetic materials. As you may or may not know, the fibers used to make tampons are not naturally white: they are bleached. The byproducts that remain from the bleaching process are known to cause reproductive issues and cancer. Though these harmful byproducts may only exist in small traces, when considering how many tampons women use and the absorbent nature of vaginal tissue, it should come as no surprise that these toxins can buildup in the body and lead to larger health problems down the road.
Women have to spend quite a lot of money over the course of their lifetime just to buy a product that they don’t really even enjoy using. On top of that, they’re charged a tax too! Nothing says ‘thanks for continuing human existence with your life-giving abilities’ like taxing women for having periods. Gender injustices aside, there are smarter ways to work around having to pay more just for being a woman. Environmentally-friendly feminine hygiene products are great alternatives if you want to relieve your budget of monthly tampon expenses. While the initial purchase may be more expensive than a single box of tampons, in the long run, you are going to save money by making the switch.
It might be easy to forget that after you dispose of your tampons and pads, they just don’t disappear. This ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality is largely why we have gone so long without adopting better alternatives. A woman will use an average of 11,000 tampons in her lifetime, and that’s a conservative estimate. When considering that tampons are used by over 100 million women worldwide, you can see why these disposable products add to the overflow of landfills. While it’s not the most glamorous realization to learn that your tampons will outlive you by centuries as they struggle to deteriorate in landfills, it’s the reality of the situation. When combining the after effects of using tampons with the chemical- and resource-intensive manufacturing process, the production and consumption of disposable menstrual products is doing a disservice to every living organism, not just the women who use them.
Now that you know all the reasons you should consider using an alternative and more environmentally-friendly feminine hygiene product, let’s take a look at some of the options that are out there!
There are many different companies that market underwear designed to be worn while menstruating without the use of other menstrual products. This ‘free bleed’ approach might seem like a disaster waiting to happen, but certain brands are surprisingly effective. Many women gloat about THINX underwear, which are both stylish and functional. They also don’t come with the diaper-like feeling of a pad, which causes some women to compare their surprisingly absorbent abilities to some sort of sorcery. See the magic for yourself and bring a pair along on your next RVing adventure!
Reusable Menstrual Cups
Choosing a menstrual cup can be overwhelming because there really are so many different options available to you. These cups collect blood rather than absorb it, so they can be emptied, cleaned, and easily reused. Some of the more popular options include the DivaCup, MoonCup, and LilyCup. Unlike tampons, you can safely use a menstrual cup for up to 12 hours before emptying, so there is no need to worry about having to wash it in public restrooms. Inserting a menstrual cup is simply a matter of following directions, and once inside, you’ll forget that it’s even there! Intimina has recently started marketing their LilyCup Compact, which is a menstrual cup that collapses down to fit into a small oreo-sized container. Not only does this compressed design allow you to carry it along inconspicuously, it also frees up valuable space in your RV’s bathroom, too. Say goodbye to those bulky tampon boxes and hello to more storage room!
Sea Sponge Tampons
If your convictions to Mother Nature are strong enough, you might consider using a sea sponge tampon, as these are really the only all-natural product in the menstruation game right now. Because sea sponges naturally replenish themselves, this product is very sustainable. When used during your period, these deep-sea tampons operate just as you might imagine. They absorb high quantities of blood so during extraction, you might have to deal with some leakage or splatter. You’ll need to change out your sponge every 3-6 hours. Careful washing and occasional replacement is required. While these are apparently all the rage in Europe right now, American women seem to be a bit more hesitant to embrace the idea of stuffing something harvested from the sea inside of them. For those who are brave or open-minded enough to give these products a try, the reviews are mixed. Some claim they can’t feel them once inserted, while others will tell you that it feels exactly like having a sponge crammed up your cervix.
Once you learn all the downsides of using pesticide-infused plugs to deal with your monthly menses, the idea of using a sea sponge might not seem so bad! No matter what environmentally-friendly feminine hygiene product you use as an alternative, you can feel confident knowing that you aren’t just treating your body and your bank account better, you’re also treating the environment better too. By switching today, you will be doing your part to preserve the beauty of our exceptional planet so that future generations of RVers can enjoy and explore it too!
Do you have a favorite environmentally-friendly feminine hygiene product? Share your insights in the comments below and help encourage other women to start treating themselves and the environment better!