This is an awkward conversation I recently had with a male engineer that I work with...

  • Him "So how do you know World Hip Hop Mama?"
  • Me "I was in a video she did recently for some friends of mine that own a... local... company."  (me trying not to talk about the type of products that company sells)
  • Him "...yeah  I saw your name at the end and had to go back and see that yes, you were there in the back."
  • Me (now knowing he knows what the video is for can relax that I don't have to explain that part) "Yep that was me dancing it up in the rear.  World Hip Hop Mama was great to work with and the video was a lot of fun..."

awkward pause....  yes, we managed to have a conversation about a video about eco-friendly menstrual products without actually acknowledging that fact.  I have to admit I was relieved.

The World Hip Hop Mama video (and yes I am there in the back).

I grew up in a time when my mother said the word "tampon" and "period" in hushed tones - like half the world didn't menstruate every month.  So while I have become more and more open about my monthly Aunt Flo, I still am not completely comfortable talking about it. Particularly with men.

Which is sort of funny as I widely pronounce my love of cloth diapers, I even had a blog about it (and I have been known to overshare on other topics).   But my re-usable menstrual products end up being allocated to conversations with girlfriends - in person - usually in a private place - and maybe after some wine.

So here I go outing myself online.  I use re-usable menstrual products. I started with the Diva Cup about 3 years ago, and added washable pads and panties from Lunapads shortly there after.

Why?

Well I spend 3 years cloth diapering my son. During that time I took a closer look at how many disposable menstrual products I was throwing in the garbage every month.

"Roughly 20 billion pads, tampons and applicators are sent to North American landfills annually.  Each menstruating person in North America will throw away an estimated 16,800 disposable pads or tampons in their lifetime; products that require hundreds of years to biodegrade."  Lunapads

I remember asking my grandmother once what she did before disposable pads and her answer being they sewed their own.  Which flabbergasted me at the time.  Of course, washable cloth pads have come a long way since then.

And while I know I only have a few more years to worry about this, before I start worrying about hot flashes and such, I would rather make a difference while I can.

Pros to switching

  • reduce your monthly garbage
  • one time cost
  • no running out last minute to the drug store when you have a surprise visit
  • Diva Cup - can be left in for 12 hours safely - can be slept in - have only ever had 1 leak in 3 years and that was in my first few months of using it.
  • Panties - cute styles that fit well - much nicer than the "period panties" I used to wear

Cons

  • there is more rinsing and washing up required - but I found I usually had things to rinse out anyways
  • Diva Cup took some practice to get used to
  • public washrooms take a bit more planning - but I managed day 1 of my period on a travel day to San Fran without any issues

The other reason I love Lunapads is their committment to young girls.  They recently launched their One4Her program.  Every eligible One4Her purchase provides a girl in need with a Uganda-made AFRIpad to support her education.  Millions of girls in the developing world lack access to menstrual products. This means that once a month they need to stay home.  You can imagine how hard it is to stay in school or keep a job if you have to stay home several days each month.   And any donations of menstrual products they receive from relief agencies only last so long. And once they are gone it is hard to get more.    The One4Her program aims to improve access to education for girls, while supporting local employment for women in Uganda.

To me that means everyone wins.