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  • Writer's pictureGirl Gang Manchester

New Year, New You. Period. · By Holly Ann Golightly

Did you know that mass scale plastic waste caused by feminine care industry takes between 500 and 800 years to fully decompose and sanitary towels are 90% plastic?

Over Christmas, I saw a focus on eco-friendly gifts, from re-usable hand towels to bamboo and cotton blended socks. This New Year, I would suggest treating yourself or a good friend to a lifestyle change.

A couple of months ago, I was at a zero-waste market in Guangzhou in China with a friend of mine and we came across a stand selling moon cups. The woman explained how easy they are to use, the positive impact on the environment and how you can collect your period and use as fertiliser for your plants (I will return to this last point later).

I was aware of these products, and was already sold for environmental reasons, but honestly, I still felt a little freaked out by it. However, I decided to put my qualms aside and go for it.

When I told my close friends, one was already a convert, but all of the others said it wasn’t for them. Their main concern was how to clean it when you are in public. 

The focus of the marketing teams of feminine hygiene products has been on subtlety for decades. We are always told how ‘discreet’ their products are. Some even have packaging that doesn’t ‘rustle’. As a working woman, there are obvious advantages of this approach, but actually, I think moon cups are more subtle than tampons. I have decided to write this article to put forward the pros and explain my own experience.

I understand that these are not for everyone as you have to be comfortable with internal products. But if you are currently a tampon user and looking for a more eco-friendly alternative, this is an excellent option. 

What is a moon cup?

It is a small cup, which is flexible and made of body-friendly plastic. Rather than absorbing the blood, it is collected throughout the day. The benefits of this over a tampon are that it only collects the blood, everything else is left and this helps to create balance. With a tampon, everything is absorbed. Tampons are also treated with chemicals, including bleach, which can be absorbed internally. 

Is it easy to insert?

As with any internal menstrual product, it can take some getting used to. But honestly, it is worth it. They come with clear instructions, which you should read and follow, but the most important thing is to relax. You hold the base firmly, flatten the opening and fold in half vertically so that it resembles a tampon, then insert. 

How about taking it out?

You gently squeeze the base to release the seal, and then gently slide out with one hand on the base and one on the cord. Once the seal is released, it slides out easily. 

How do you clean it in public?

Often, you don’t actually need to change your moon cup in public as you can leave them in longer than other sanitary products. You can actually leave them in for up to 12 hours. If you do need to clean it in public, I recommend taking a small bottle of water with you. You can tip the contents of the moon cup down the toilet and use the water to rinse it. This can be cleaned more thoroughly when you are home. 

Do they leak?

Absolutely not. I have pretty heavy periods, I have worn mine for nearly 12 hours and it was not even close to being full. I have found these much more practical than tampons which can get heavy and leak. I have even read that they hold three times as much as a super absorbent tampon. 

So how much better for the environment are they?

Most moon cups are made from silicon, which is a greener material. They can last over a decade, which is estimated to save around 2400 pads or tampons per user. Tampons with applicators are sometimes made from recyclable plastic, but they are usually treated as medical waste and so are generally not recyclable. 

How do they make you feel?

They are very comfortable. They also make me feel closer and more in tune with my body. Periods have been portrayed as unnatural and shameful for decades, but it is actually natural and beautiful and we should be able to talk about this openly.

The woman who sold me the moon cup explained that you can dilute the contents of your moon cup and use it as fertiliser for plants. This idea intrigued me and I read up about it online. As always, the results of my research were inconclusive. There were theories that the nutrients would be good for plants, but hygiene concerns were also raised. I enjoy the idea that something natural that we create, can go back into the earth and help something new to grow. 

This New Year, let’s embrace our bodies and make a purchase that can save a truck full of un-recyclable waste in the process.

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