Reusing and recycling just don’t work when it comes to feminine hygiene products. Have you ever thought about how much waste pads and tampons create? The average American woman throws away 15,000 sanitary pads and tampons in her lifetime, adding up to 250-300 pounds of waste.1 Multiplied by the 85 million menstruating women in North America, that’s about 12 billion pads and 7 million tampons, plus their packaging, added to US landfills per year!2 And some don’t even make it that far. The Center for Marine Conservations conservation collected over 170,000 tampon applicators alone in just one year from U.S. coastal areas.3
Women who are concerned about this waste, not to mention the health risks of lodging wads of non-organic, dioxin-laden cotton close to their reproductive organs, have turned to one of the best kept secrets in women’s health care: the menstrual cup.
Under brand names such as The Keeper or The Moon Cup, the rubber or silicone cup looks something like a tiny plunger. Upside down, it is tucked inside the vagina just like a tampon, where it collects blood until the user removes it to empty it. A cup, which costs $35, lasts about ten years. In that time, a woman spends more than $400 on pads and tampons!
I’ve used the Keeper for four years, and would never, ever go back. It’s so simple that I often forget I’m using it after I put it in. It never leaks; it only needs changing twice a day; it’s simple and hygienic. It’s been a life-saver when I don’t want to deal with my period in a Porta-John at work, when traveling in countries where tampons weren’t available, when backpacking in places with nowhere to dispose of trash. And best of all, I’m not generating heaps of nasty garbage.
If you’re intrigued, check out http://www.keeper.com/. Reviews posted by other users are so enthusiastic you’d find them ridiculous – if you haven’t tried it for yourself. Personally, I agree with my friend Rachel who puts it simply: “Quite possibly the most useful device ever invented.”
1 “Interesting Facts.” The Keeper, Inc. 2006. www.keeper.com/facts.html. (Accessed 24 November 2006.)
3 “Inner Sanctum: The Hidden Price of Feminine Hygiene Products.” E Magazine, Vol. XII No 2. March-April 2001.
by Sara Kate Kneidel
keywords: keeper, environmentally friendly menstrual products, feminine hygiene alternatives