Eco Femme long term volunteer, Melanie, shares her story with us. Merci Melanie! 🙂
It’s been a while now that I promised my colleague Laura I’d sit down and tell my story on switching to sustainable menstrual products…Today is the day!
I’m now 24 years old and I started using a menstrual cup when I was 19. I started menstruating quite late (I was almost 18) so I hardly have any experience with disposable products. I actually don’t remember ever buying disposable sanitary napkins: I was using disposable tampons and might have tried (and disliked!) disposable pads once or twice for emergencies.
I’m French and at the time I started using the menstrual cup I had never ever heard about it before. All my friends were using disposable products, and I was quite oblivious to the desastrous effects of those over our bodies and the environment. I didn’t mind having my periods and it never interfered with the normal course of life: periods were painless, my flow was under control without me having to check… I was lucky! The only trouble for me, if there was any, was to remember having a box of tampons ready for “that time of the month”. An easy task that I don’t remember managing to complete in the year that I was having my periods and managing them with disposable products. Plus, I always seemed to run out of money whenever I had to buy products!
In the midst of all this, I was pretty unaware. I didn’t know about the issues some women face during menstruation, nor did I know of the side effects of disposable products like rashes or toxic chocks, or their impact over the environment. My knowledge about all this was limited to the cheesy commercials for sanitary products. It’s crazy to reflect on this because I know that even then I was interested and quite knowledgeable in sustainability and always keen on changing my lifestyle accordingly.
This willingness to adapt to the most sustainable alternative was actually the reason why I made the switch! One day, my mom came to visit me in the city where I was studying. She went to the organic shop to buy groceries and also came back with a cup. “It’s great, sustainable and a money saver”, she told me! I was a bit puzzled by its size but convinced right away: I’m not the type to question my mother on these sort of things, plus if it’s better for the environment I’m all for it!
Since then I have been a happy cup user! Sure the first time I tried it I was squatting in the strangest postures, but I quickly mastered the art of ‘cup-ing’.
Couple years after that, I went to India for my Master’s internship… This is another story but it lead to my being introduced to cloth pads and Eco Femme and, eventually, my joining the team in 2014! The world of cloth pads was entirly new to me, as well as all the things it came with… Namely the wrong doings of the disposable industry, the impact of menstrual products over the environment, the quantities of waste it can generate…
I now use a mix of cloth pads and the cup, because it’s what suits me the best! I like the cup for I’m an active sporty woman, plus I think it’s the most sustainable menstrual product out there. I like pads because they are beautiful, comfy and let my blood flow out of my body. I must say that though I’m not keen on the washing chore (I tend to wait and wash my pads after some time), I love drying my pads outside. In a country where women are often ashamed to do so, I see this as a statement!
In general I’m also very happy that there is a sustainable alternative for women who don’t like internal products (shout out to all my friends who are not switching because they are afraid at how big a cup is..).
Since I work at Eco Femme, I’m also much more open about period talking (maybe a tad too much!) and advocating menstrual products… I think it’s a wonderful and endless talking subject. Sustainable menstruation has opened my eyes on so much in my life and also on many things that I feel are going wrong in our society. Be it because I live in India or because of my profession, I’m now trying to be as mindful as possible about the waste I’m generating and I’m fully against the culture of “buy and throw”.