Folks, this is about my "consumption" of plastic over the next year. I'm looking at what I have, what I buy, and why I seem to need this hundred and fifty year old man-made concoction more than my mother's fried chicken.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Week 48: Bloody Plastic
This post is about plastics and the menstrual cycle. The period. The moon cycle. The rag. Red Tide. A visit from Aunt Flo. Rio de roja. Whatever you call it, you are likely to dam it (and damn it) with plastic. I have been using tampons and maxi pads for 20 years. Hmm...I sense some fun math calculations coming on...
Because I know you are dying to know how many maxi pads and tampon applicators I have used and disposed of so far, here are the current totals:
total # of pads = 1,200 (20 years x 12 cycles x 5 pads per cycle)
total # pad packages = 1,200 (20 years x 12 cycles x 5 pad packages per cycle)
total # of sticky tabs = 3,600 (20 years x 12 cycles x 15 sticky tabs per cycle)
total # of tampon applicators = 720 (5 years x 12 cycles x 12 tampon applicators per cycle)
total # of OB tampon packages = 2,016 (15 years x 12 cycles x 12 OB tampons per cycle)
total # of Instead soft cups = 120 (2 years x 12 cycles x 5 Insteads per cycle)
total # of Instead packages = 120 (2 years x 12 cycles x 5 Instead packages per cycle)
total # of plastic items = 8,976 (sum of all items listed above)
total cost of my period = $811.12 (adding avg. cost of pads, tampons, OB, Instead & multiplying by total items used in those categories + the cost of The Keeper kit)
I have sent roughly 9,000 little plastic bits of garbage to the landfills or incinerators in the name of my moon cycle.
Because I was hellbent on NOT keeping any of my dog's poop, household garbage, OR my own "red tide catchment systems", I had to find alternatives...no negotiations on that one. I've already written about Poopbags and now I bring you The Keeper. I bought The Keeper kit for $45.99. I received the tiniest brown box in the mail and I opened it like some buried treasure chest. And there she was, natural gum rubber (latex) in her own little fairy dust pouch. She was nestled in with her sidekicks; two tacky, floral, cotton, machine-washable pantyliners. If cared for properly, these products should last a decade.
I waited patiently for my first opportunity to take my Keeper for a test drive. When the time came, I found that I was...operationally challenged. After 5 failed attempts, I thought, "Hmmm, I cannot imagine this thing being comfortable once I do get it in. I mean, it's a thick rubber chalice for godssake!" I try, try, try again and finally, voila! The Keeper is kept. Then comes the challenge of...pouring the wine out of the chalice. The first few attempts were messy and it required some finesse to master a clean pour.
That was many moons ago. 11 to be exact. Now I am a Keeper expert, skilled in the ways of the "pinch, fold, & pop" and the "pour & rinse" methods. If I can do it, so can you, or your wife, girlfriend, sister or any random woman you want to share this with on the street.
And you will tell them, because I said so.
This is a good visual if you need support for your argument. And if that isn't enough, check out this New York Times article about the city's sewage treatment plant. And if that still isn't enough, take it from the plumbers on Flush TV. I recommend watching Episode One as well.
Plastic and cardboard applicators are designed to help us avoid contact with our own lady part. After the tampon spends some time with...in us, if we do not send it to the landfill or incinerator by throwing it the garbage, we banish it to the toilet underworld where it joins billions of other tampons to wreak havoc on our sewers and waste water treatment plants. And disposable pads? They stink and who really wants to sit in their own blood if they don't have to?
In all seriousness, this is the best thing that has come out of this blog. Culture and conventional menstrual products are designed to distance a woman from this natural, unique, and beautiful process. That's right. I equated blood with beauty. Not all blood shed is violent. Most tampons are made of pesticide grown cotton that is then bleached. And this is something that the FDA says is fine to put into one of the most sacred and important places in the human body 12 weeks out of the year for 40-50 years? What is our obsession with whiteness anyway? Especially if it is just going to be soaked in blood, pee, or poop...
This is a wake up call for me and I hope it is for you too. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that there might not be any good reason for the tampon & maxi pad industry to exist at all. Yes, it requires adjustment, change, and a likely overdue reunion with your bits. I used to dread my cycle and see it as an unfair price to pay for being a woman. What I didn't realize is that it wasn't the period I dreaded; it was all the garbage that came with it. And would you believe? Once I made the change and reduced that heavy flow waste stream, my cycles followed suit.
Too much information? Good. I didn't think so.