Listen up, Ladies!

(Men, too, because for sure you have partners, friends, or sisters that you can pass this information on to. Although you may find the rest of the post a bit out of your comfort zone. It’s definitely not anything I thought I would ever be blogging about!)

Before I delve into the issue of plastic packaging, I thought I would discuss feminine care products, specifically reusable menstrual products, because this was by far the easiest plastic-free change I made. It also saves a ton of money and is better for your health!

The Environment

Over 12 BILLION pads and tampons are USED ONCE and disposed of annually, adding to environmental pollution.

In a woman’s lifetime, she is likely to use 15,000 sanitary pads or tampons.

An average woman throws away 250 to 300 pounds of tampons, pads and applicators in her lifetime. The great majority of these end up in landfills, or as something the sewage treatment plants must deal with. Source

This is definitely not the trash we want to see on our streets in Dahab, but unfortunately we do. Used menstrual pads must be one of the most disgusting objects I have removed from the street in front of my house. 

Your Health

A new report by Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE) details how the feminine care industry sells products containing unregulated and potentially harmful chemicals, including preservatives, pesticides, fragrances and dyes.

The report lists the following potential health hazards associated with feminine care products:

Tampons: Hazardous ingredients may include dioxins and furans (from the chlorine bleaching process), pesticide residues and unknown fragrance chemicals. Exposure concerns include cancer, reproductive harm, endocrine disruption, and allergic rash.

Pads: Hazardous ingredients may include dioxins and furans, pesticide residues, unknown fragrance chemicals, and adhesive chemicals such as methyldibromo glutaronitrile. Exposure concerns include cancer, reproductive harm, and endocrine disruption. Studies link pad use to allergic rash.

Frightening! I don’t know about you, but I would rather not have hazardous material next to my body.

Two choices we have for reusable menstrual products are reusable cloth pads and menstrual cups

Reusable Cloth Pads

Handmade Cloth Pads

Handmade Cloth Pads

These are essentially a washable fabric version of a disposable menstrual pad. Mostly made by small businesses, these come in a huge variety of types. Using fabrics such as bamboo or cotton, they can be very absorbent and some even include a waterproof layer to give the same security as a disposable pad. Cloth Pads can be reused for many years. After they have been worn, they can be rinsed clean or left to soak and washed in a washing machine with the rest of the laundry.”

There are plenty of DIY instructions available on the Internet on how to make your own cloth pads. Here’s one page with links to many different patterns. If you prefer pads and have a sewing machine, this option may be the one for you! And if you do have access to a sewing machine, perhaps you’d consider making extras to sell to other women here in Dahab. (hint, hint)

TIP: If possible, make your own reusable cloth pads. If not, purchase some the next time you are abroad and bring them back with you. Or ask a traveling friend or visitor to bring them to Dahab for you.

Reusable Menstrual Cups

Meluna Menstrual Cups By Frank Krueger ( [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Meluna Menstrual Cups By Frank Krueger ( [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

There are now several brands of Menstrual Cup available around the world. A Menstrual Cup is a soft bell shaped item which is used inside the vagina to collect the flow. They are removed to be emptied, rinsed out and replaced. They can be boiled in a pot of water to be sterilised before and after each period. The one cup can last many years, can be used while swimming or sleeping and does not have the same TSS risks as tampons do. They also have a much greater capacity than tampons and can safely be kept in place for 12 hours.”

When I moved to Dahab and decided to stop using tampons, I switched to using a menstrual cup. The only drawback to this option is the fact that you cannot purchase menstrual cups here in Egypt. But most brands ship worldwide and some even offer free shipping. Prices start at about 20. Here is a list of brands available. Research the options and decide which one works for you! (I went with Femmecup.)

Menstrual cups do take some getting used to, but having a shatafa (water hose) on most toilets here in Egypt makes dealing with the cups so much easier!

TIP: Purchase a reusable menstrual cup and have it shipped to an address here in Dahab. Be aware that you may have to pay customs once it arrives. If you’d rather not trust the Egyptian post, buy your cup when you travel home (many of us do at least once a year!) or ask a visiting friend to deliver your cup to you.

TIP: If you want to continue using tampons, choose ones without plastic applicators. That’s a lot less waste!

TIP: If you want to continue using pads, choose ones that aren’t individually wrapped. Pads are not sterile so they don’t need the extra packaging.

Is switching to reusable menstrual care products a change you are willing to make? Why or why not?

Refuse ~ Reduce ~ Reuse ~ Recycle


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