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  • Writer's pictureJessica McQuistin

Sustaina-Minis, Period Edition: Menstrual Cups & Other Zero-Waste Period Products

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

I've never been one to talk openly about my period, but here I am posting all about it for everyone to see! (Yikes!) I also tend not to use profanity, especially online, but if you look closely, you may spot some among the pretty yellow and coral flowers. (Teehee!) This post is definitely a stretch beyond my comfort zone and it's about time I spoke up about this since it's been such a game-changer for me.

I've been absolutely loving my DivaCup for over a year now and consider it my #1 favourite zero waste swap item. I'm somewhat of a minimalist when it comes to sustainability, preferring DIY strategies and use-what-you-got approaches over buying a bunch of eco-friendly products, but this is one area I'm glad I've invested in. Apparently, we can produce around 300 lbs of waste in disposable period products over a lifetime, so it's worth considering alternatives.

In case you're unfamiliar, the DivaCup is one of many menstrual cups on the market, and this one was founded by a mother-daughter team from Kitchener, Ontario. It gets inserted vaginally, where it collects menstrual fluid. It then gets carefully dumped out, cleaned, and reinserted. Simple as that. It's made of medical-grade silicone and can be left in for up to 12 hours. I know I sound like an infomercial but this product has really blown me away!

I purchased my DivaCup from Full Circle Foods, but have since seen it in all kinds of stores, including pharmacies like Shoppers and Rexall. When I first got my cup, it took me a day or two to get used to inserting and removing it. I also remember the very first time I used it; I followed the instructions to "boil prior to first use" but I did not use common sense and wait for it to cool down before trying it out. (Yow!) (There might be a punny joke about being an eager beaver, but I'm not going there...My mom reads this!) After the initial learning curve, it was smooth sailing and I've enjoyed using the cup ever since. My periods have seemed like less of a nuisance (fewer trips to the bathroom and to the store for tampons) and they've also seemed shorter which might just be a coincidence, but it's still something I've appreciated!

Several months ago, I expanded my zero waste period product collection and got a few reusable sanitary pads by Rhymes with Orange which are handmade in Kitchener. I found mine at Zero Waste Bulk in Waterloo, but they are in many other shops as well and available online. I love their fun prints and mainly use the smallest ones along with my DivaCup, just for that extra sense of security, and occasionally use the larger ones on their own. I can vouch for these pads and say that they are very absorbent, don't leak, and wash well in the washing machine. Easy peasy!

You may have noticed that there are also some plain old disposable panty liners in my photo. That's because I still use those on days when I just want the thinnest possible layer of protection, with my cup or without (i.e., on days leading up to my period when I don't want to be caught off-guard). I try to buy them in a large box, and without individual wrappers, to minimize the waste they produce. So my periods aren't 100% zero waste, but they're much less wasteful than when I relied on tampons and disposable pads all the time.

I want to acknowledge that access to period products is a struggle for many people, and being able to purchase eco-friendly period products is a sign of privilege. I admire the fact that DivaCup is actively working to reduce period poverty by donating their menstrual cups as well as disposable period products to organizations in need. I also plan on donating my unused stash of disposable tampons and pads since I won't be needing them anymore.

Have you experimented with sustainable period products? They are an investment upfront but for me, they've been worth the gamble and I'm now a huge fan!


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