Have you tried eco-friendly feminine hygiene yet?
Two years ago I posted about my love of the reusable Diva Cup, a sort-of 'vessel' that catches your flow, which you empty and then reinsert during your period. At the time I was hooked on it. It was totally working for me, and I was thrilled that I was able to eliminate yet another category of disposable products from my life. (The comments from that post are awesomely filled with TMI talk, just to warn you, but folks had some, ahem, insertion issues to work out.) Well, about five or six months later I got a Mirena IUD, which has virtually eliminated my period, so I no longer use any type of feminine hygiene. But I've been wondering whether anyone has successfully been using reusables for the long term?
To refresh, there are a few reusable options. You've got your reusable menstrual cups, like the Diva Cup made from silicone, and The Keeper made from natural rubber (they also make a silicone version for women allergic to latex). Then there are the reusable cloth pads that you wash and wear, like Glad Rags, Lunapads and homemade varieties (or make your own). I would think that cloth diaper users would find this an easy switch. Grist did a comparison of various types of pads that might be helpful. There are also sea sponge tampons, made from, yes, sea sponges. While these personally have no appeal for me, they seem to work just fine for some.
There's also this whole category of disposable menstrual products made by companies like Seventh Generation and Natracare that are unbleached, made with less plastic, made with plant materials, etc. While they are still disposable, if you are not ready to try reusables then I think this is a good way to go (though I haven't actually tried any so I can't vouch for effectiveness). Eliminating these nasty ingredients from the manufacturing process (and keeping them away from your tender bits) can only be a positive. However, you should always take 'biodegradable' claims with a hefty dose of eye-rolling. If you plan to compost your feminine hygiene in your backyard (and I can offer NO insight here!) then the claims apply to you! But in a modern landfill, nothing is breaking down, okay? No air and water is getting in to all of these 'biodegradable' products -- they are just hanging out with all of the other garbage, taking up space. If your goal is to reduce waste and the harmful emissions related to the production and transport of disposable products, then this is NOT your category of products.
So what are you using, and how long have you been at it? Have you tried and given up on any? Let's share, ladies.
(And I know that the Mirena does not appeal to everyone because 1) it releases a small amount of hormones into your uterus, and 2) it can be prohibitively expensive if your insurance won't cover it. It's a personal choice, my insurance covered it 100% and I love it.)