This article is a discussion of female hygiene products. Move along to happy fluffy bunny blogs if this offends.
Now here's a surprise. You're not being given the whole story by the "happy period" people at Alw@ys and the shiny sanitary plastic Tamp@x people. There is a real third option; one that doesn't involve the tedious washing of re-usable cloth pads. I've been using this for over ten years, will never use anything else, and can't imagine why more women don't give it a try.
It's called The Keeper. Essentially, it's a small-ish rubber or silicon cup that snuggles up against your vaginal walls, near but not touching your cervix, and simply holds the fluids back. Simple in execution, comfortable to wear, and it makes 17,000 kinds of sense.
Does 17,000 seem like an odd number? Well.... it's the number of pads and tampons the average woman uses in her lifetime. Can you even imagine that amount in a landfill? (go here to see it. )Next, try to picture the bleaches and harmful chemicals that went into their production. And now, the amount of packaging waste. Cardboard, "discreet" plastic pouches and wrappers. That's a massive pile of waste, girl.
Now let's do the math on the money aspect of the scenario. Having not bought the things for years, I really have no idea, but Mother Google knows all... lesseee... roughly $10 for 36 tampons, the same price for 48 pads. That makes the totals (are you ready for this?) $4700 spent over your lifetime for tampons, or $3500 for pads. Wouldn't you rather go to Mexico for a week... twice, rather than buying pads and tampons?
Now. Back to The Keeper. You pay roughly $50 CAD (at today's exchange rate) for a solid ten years of use. (Mine's over ten years and shows no sign of deterioration.) You simply fold it in half, in half again, insert, wiggle a little until it's a nice circle again, and forget about it. Well, not too long... the little holes at the top of the cup to help release the suction will eventually leak if your flow is heavy or if you leave it in for too long. So... you whip it out (by pulling on the stem) when you need to visit the lady's room, empty it neatly into the bowl, clean it with water if available, or t.p. if not, and fold it up and stick it back in. Look! You've saved a tampon already.
When you don't need it anymore that month, a nice wash with hot water (not boiling... this breaks down the rubber) and soap, and then you tuck it back inside the sweet little cloth bag that it came in until you need it next month. "Hand-made by retired seamstresses" the website says. Awww.
Seriously. Why aren't we all using this? Okay... granted, it takes a woman who is not squeamish about her body, its functions and its discharges. However, if you can bring yourself to use tampons, you can get used to, and eventually love, the idea of the Keeper. And even if you are a little on the squeamish side... maybe the environmental and monetary savings will make you think about getting a little more cozy with your bod. And honey, that ain't such a bad thing.
edited to add: Tammy says that they won't ship the Keeper to Canada anymore... but has found a site for the The Diva Cup. It looks like the same thing. Thanks, Tammy.