Opinion: Make the switch to menstrual cups

Using menstrual cups allows students to help take billions of waste out of landfills

Many menstruators have had a day where they were too busy to stop and change their tampon or pad. For students, like myself, sometimes it may be several hours before they can stop in the bathroom and make the switch. 

Luckily, alternatives for menstrual flow control have been breaking boundaries within the past few years — one of them being the menstrual cup. And now more than ever in the wake of a climate crisis, menstruators should make the decision to use menstrual cups to reduce waste. 

Last Tuesday, the U.S. Senate voted against the Green New Deal, shutting down all hopes of a resolution to the climate change issue. With no hope to see any change on the state of the climate crisis in the near future, it is important for students to take it upon themselves to reduce waste. For menstruators, one simple action they can and should take is using menstrual cups. 

According to Lunapads, about 20 billion menstrual products end up in landfills every year, and it takes 500 years for tampons to break down. When people don’t dispose of their products properly, these items often end up in sewer systems and make their way to the ocean. 

By using a menstrual cup, menstruators can help reduce waste across the globe as well as put some extra green in their own pockets. 

According to an article by the Huffington Post, women can spend, on average, $1,773.33 on tampons in their life. Switching to a menstrual cup, which usually lasts about 10 years, can save an average of $80 to $116 a year, estimates The Penny Hoarder. 

Virginia Shay, communications coordinator for Diva International Inc. or DivaCup, said menstrual cups might not be the right choice for everyone since all bodies are different. However, for those that do choose this method and decide to use products like DivaCup, it can improve a menstruator's period experience. 

“What we find for people, once they are able to get the hang of insertion and removal, it is a more comfortable and pleasant way to manage your period," Shay said. "In the long run, once you’re able to get the hang of using it, it is overall a much more pleasant experience. When you have the cup inserted correctly, and assuming you’re using the appropriate size for you, you shouldn't be able to feel it.”

Using a menstrual cup has many more advantages in addition to reducing waste: menstruators don't have to make frequent stops to the bathroom, and there is less risk of the effects that can happen from leaving a tampon in too long, like toxic shock syndrome.

While decisions about one's cycle should be left up to the menstruator, those who are willing to make the switch can help reduce the impact made on the environment from sanitary waste — all while saving some money at the same time. 

Reach the columnist at psaso@asu.edu and follow @paytonsaso on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the authors’ and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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