Reusable period products are finally catching on

period clock
© La corneja artesana/Shutterstock

I was in a hostel in Jerusalem when I first learned what a menstrual cup was. There was an advertisement for these alternatives to tampons hanging on the hostel bathroom wall. It pointed out how much people spend on tampons and pads, and how bad these products are for the environment.

At the time, I thought the ad was a strange quirk of Israeli hostel life. I knew people made less money in Israel, so I figured reusable period products were simply popular in less wealthy countries. I certainly never imagined them coming to the U.S.

But alas, my vague assumption was flawed. A few months ago, Subway stations in New York were filled with advertisements for THINX panties (I hate the word panties, but I'll allow it in this case), a brand of washable underwear that replaces tampons and pads. The search term "menstrual cup" is four times more popular on Google now than it was in 2013.

Perhaps that's because women around the world want to save money and help the planet.
One charity found the average woman in the U.K. spends $6,251.42 over her life on period products and pads. It also pointed out how much waste these disposable products create — Slate estimates that the average woman throws out around 300 pounds of tampons and pads over her lifetime.

So menstrual cups mean much less waste. That's good news, but I have to mention — it's not going to make a dent in the landfills anytime soon. Period waste only accounts for about 0.5 percent of waste a woman makes in her lifetime.

Still, I think this trend is an even bigger psychological win. If people are willing to go green for something so personal, then they are taking sustainability seriously. They're willing to make sacrifices and change habits beyond simply watching documentaries or picking up a piece of litter every once in a while. Perhaps society will develop this attitude towards food waste, packaging and all the other stuff that travels the world only to end up in the trash.

So, what do you think of this trend? Have you ever tried a menstrual cup? Would you?

Reusable period products are finally catching on
Women are switching to menstrual cups and period panties.

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