Menstrual cups: my all-time favourite zero waste switch

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I think everyone who switches to the zero waste way of life develops a favourite zero waste product that they can’t get enough of.

They love to think about it and talk about it with their friends. Honestly, they could probably become a salesperson for the product.

For some, it’s the delicious-smelling beeswax wraps that take the place of cling wrap. For others, it’s their new glass straw that they whip out at any opportunity.

It’s menstrual cups for me. Weird, and maybe gross, but hear me out.


What are they?

When I first heard about menstrual cups, I was kinda grossed out and never saw myself using one. But I did think it was a great idea for reducing waste, not to mention saving money!

Basically, it’s a reusable silicone cup which is inserted like a tampon but instead of absorbing blood, it collects it. Once it’s full you take it out, empty and rinse it, and use it again.

Once I started my journey to zero waste, it was something that I began to consider. I spent lots of time thinking about it and doing plenty of research. I don’t know what tipped me over the edge, but I decided to go for it. What was there to lose?

As it turns out, there are so many advantages to menstrual cups.


Why are they great?

Always prepared

Menstrual cups are 100% reusable and last for years and years. Once you buy a cup, you can keep it on you all the time and never get caught out. No more last minute running to the shops because you’ve had a surprise visit! Yay!

You also don’t have to worry about having a large enough supply if you’re going off the grid for a while.

Even travelling is easier because you don’t have to source these products in a foreign country, especially in areas where they might not be readily available.

The only thing I might suggest is having a backup cup, in case you drop your main one somewhere unsanitary. This hasn’t happened to me yet, but I am always prepared.


No more cost

Cups pay themselves off in a few months. The upfront cost is of course higher than disposable products, but when you compare what you’d spend on tampons over the expected life of the cup, versus what you pay for the cup, there’s a VERY noticeable difference.

Cups can last around ten years, or even more, if you take good care of them. And they can safely be left in for up to 12 hours! So, not only do you save a tonne of money, but you save time only having to deal with it twice a day.

If you’re having trouble affording one, check out my post on ways to reduce the cost of zero waste products.


No more awkwardness

Ever been a guest somewhere and they haven’t had a bin in the bathroom? And then you’re stuck wondering how the heck you get your used sanitary items to the kitchen bin? All while thinking “Who on earth only has one bin??”

And you can’t just lump it on the top of everything else in the bin, either, because other people will see it… With nothing to dispose of, you’ll never have this problem again. A simple rinse and re-insertion removes all the evidence.

Maybe they’re a bit further into their zero waste journey, and have eliminated the need for more than one bin in the house. I have to say, eliminating general waste bins is a zero waste goal of mine. Imagine that, not having to take the rubbish out, because you don’t produce any waste that needs to go to landfill. What a win.

Anyway, back to cups.


Much less fear of leaking

The awesome thing about menstrual cups is that the top lip creates a seal that keeps the liquid in and stops that dreaded leakage. You can even use them overnight because they’re safe to use for up to 12 hours. So no more night leakage either!


Very low chance of TSS

Menstrual cups have only been associated with 2 cases of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) in users since their inception in the 1930s. Tampon users, on the other hand, experience TSS at a rate of 3 to 6 women per 100,000 women each year, just in the USA.

This doesn’t mean that you can be lax with cup hygiene. It’s still important to keep things clean (how do you think those 2 cases occurred?), but you don’t really have to stress about TSS.


Less discomfort

Most menstrual cups are made of silicone, rendering them non-absorbent. They collect your period without drying you out and causing the drying discomfort many people experience with tampons.

Using a cup significantly reduced my period pain, too. I’m not sure how it works, but I’m definitely not the only one who’s had this experience.

I should also tell you that it IS NOT one size fits all. Cups come in a few different sizes, shapes, and even flexibilities. They have different stem lengths, too, and if you need these can generally be shortened. So if you try one and it doesn’t sit comfortably, shorten the stem or try a different sized cup. If you find it leaks, try one with less or more flexibility.

Don’t give up on the first one you try. It might take a bit, but once you find the perfect one, you’ll be wondering where it was your whole life.


My favourite menstrual cup

Full disclosure – I haven’t tried many brands. In fact, I’ve only tried one. I did some research and settled on one to try, and it ended up meeting all of my criteria. What are the chances?

The brand that I went with was Lily Cup by Intimina, and I opted for their compact version. It sort of concertinas down into a flat disc that has its own storage capsule. It’s so convenient! They also have regular cups, and one that you can use during sex. I like their range because they’re high quality and most of them come with their own compact case.

There are plenty of other brands out there too which might suit you better, a selection of which can be found here. It’s worth doing your research because they come in all shapes and sizes, so you need to get one that suits you.

If you find the one that you pick is uncomfortable or leaks, you likely have the wrong size or shape. Keep trying until you find one that works because when you do, you’ll love it!

Let me know in the comments what YOUR favourite zero waste product is, and why! Or if you have any questions about this topic, feel free to ask in the comments or send me an email 🙂

Image credit: Javardh on Unsplash

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