Thursday, March 30, 2017

The most zero-waste woman in the world

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I'm not currently menstruating, but when I do, I waste less than the average woman. Yep, I'm talking about feminine hygiene products today, so the more squeamish have been warned.

My pad and menstrual cup stash

In my way of thinking, there are three levels of reducing waste for ladies, beginner, intermediate, and advanced. 

Beginners are just learning their options and are still using disposables. They need info like this-

Here is a great post on the pros and con's of reusable menstrual products.
Here is a post about the environmental impact and the impact on your wallet for disposables.

Intermediate is trying out their options and figuring out what reusables work for them. They use the sample size of sea sponges as linked above, buy a few cloth pads on Etsy, buy a menstrual cup, etc.

Advanced ladies have been using reusable products for a while and know what works for them.

I would consider myself to be more in the advanced level as I haven't used disposables in five years and have used some reusables for most of the last decade. I know what works for me quite well. Pictured above is my The Keeper Menstrual Cup, Size A. I chose natural rubber so it can be composted after the 10 years of use, but if you are allergic to rubber/latex, then a silicone menstrual cup may be a better option. An advanced zero-waste woman might even carry Natural Sea Silk Sponges - Pack of 12 and instructions for when they are asked if a friend can "borrow" a pad/tampon.

This post isn't really for the advanced or even intermediate level though. This post is tailored for the beginner. This is for the lady that just bought a six month supply of disposables at Costco, and then found this post. Take a deep breath, and we'll try to reduce your trash from this moment on.

To donate or Use Up, That is the Question
First, we need to figure out how to deal with the trash you already have. You can either pass the disposables on to a women's shelterFreecycle, or your local Buy Nothing Project or you can phase out of them as you figure out your options and use them up.

Must...Slow..Down..."Lady Waste"
If you are phasing out of disposables, you may still want to reduce your waste. This is a way to do it. Menstrual blood isn't dirty, nor is it bad for the environment. In fact, it can be a nutritional powerhouse for your garden. So, if you are still using disposable sanitary napkins or tampons, you are throwing away a valuable resource for your garden! 

Let's compost as much of that resource as we can and make it available for your garden. Since pads are made of wood pulp, cotton, and plastic top/bottom, we're looking to compost the inner contents.

Just Rot It, rot it!

To compost the tampon, just toss into your bokashi bin and cover with the newspaper bokashi or bokashi bran

Suit Up and Tear It Up

Put on some rubber gloves to keep your hands tidy. Wet the pad to prevent dust flying everywhere. Grab ahold of the pad and either rip or cut the pad from top to bottom over the bokashi bin. (Use garden shears.) It will look something like this:

Spread It! Spread It Good!

Use a trowel, etc. to flatten out the pad contents and cover with newspaper bokashi. Tamp it down as much as needed.

Rinse and Repeat
Wash off the plastic leftovers of the pad. Wash it thoroughly with hydrogen peroxide the second time. After pad plastic is washed, put it in with your mixed plastics recycling. Landfill free at last!

Congrats, you now waste less than the average woman. Enjoy your reusable menstrual products!

This post was inspired by a disposable diaper composting article and this recycling article.

Little Urban Greenie

Oak Hill Homestead
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