It’s a wonderful zero waste life UrbanMeisters! The road to an urban green life is not tedious, difficult or full of obstacles. It is in-fact smooth and can be a hassle free voyage if done in small easy steps. And one of the most misunderstood or shall we say feared part of green living is zero waste management. Sure it’s no mean feat to fit all your waste in one tiny jar but UrbanMeisters you don’t have to get there in one leap! As as explained in our green living series feature on beginners guide to zero waste living, that little jar stage will take time but a start needs to be made. We’ve frequently shared effective ideas and tips on how to reduce waste in urban life, be it the zero waste journey of Parisian couple Giles and Bianca who showed us that this is not unachievable given all the needs and pressures of modern metropolitan life. Or the inspiring challenge taken on by student Kristin who’s idea of cutting her waste by half every month is a perfect way to start the zero waste challenge.
Today on the zero waste urban life special we have a very special guest writer touching upon a very relevant aspect of urban waste especially for women. We have the latest zero waste Instagram sensation Jessica Burgess whose zero waste story is piquing the interest of greenies everywhere. And she talks about the sensitive topic menstrual waste- a crucial aspect few address in the zero waste narrative. Let’s hear form the passionate greenie herself on menstrual cups & the highs of leading a less waste life.
ZERO WASTE EXPERT JESSICA ON MENSTRUAL CUP
Hello! I am Jessica Burgess a 30 year old stay at home mum with two children aged 4 & 2. I would say that I used to be an ignorant person who wasn’t really aware of how to recycle, what to recycle, what would happen to my rubbish once it went to landfill. I would use single use items like plastic bags, straws, take away cups etc. without a thought as to the impact I was having on our environment. But then I came across some very inspiring examples of zero waste life on Instagram like @zerowastehome, @bezerowastegirl & @treadingmyownpath. These accounts really opened up my eyes. They inspired me to want to help our environment, by not contributing to our landfills. That the best course is to try to produce zero waste as a first option & landfill as a last option if there really is no way around it.
So this year my family and I embarked on our zero waste journey starting with small steps like swapping single use plastic straws for metal reusable ones. Taking our own shopping & produce bags with us when we did grocery shopping. Going to bulk food stores to get our dry food/nuts/soap/oils. Refusing plastic wrapped fruit & vegetables. Setting up a compost bin for our food scraps. Luckily I have my husband’s support & my children are too young to really notice any changes! As a woman though there is another zero waste change that I decided to look into which was menstrual cups. A lot of us get grossed out when talking of menstrual cycles which is surprising because this is one of the most natural aspects of being a woman. What should gross you out instead is the massive waste generated by the countless disposable menstrual products like sanitary pads and tampons getting disposed each month around the world clogging our already saturated land fills. According to USA Today, the average woman has an estimated 500 menstrual cycles in her lifetime. Some figures put that as almost 62,415 pounds of garbage during her fertile years which is about 0.5% of yearly landfill waste! Not many women think of the environment impact of their period but it’s high time we give it some thought. Well the green winner in this zero waste challenge is the menstrual cup.
THE MENSTRUAL CUP TRAIL
What is a menstrual cup? Well it is flexible medical grade silicon shaped into a cup that is inserted into the vagina to catch the menstrual fluid, during a woman’s period.
Once upon a time, when I was a younger version of myself the thought of ever wearing, let alone considering a menstrual cup grossed me out. Now that I am an older 30 year old version of myself the thought of using one doesn’t seem so gross. Why is that? Well I am serious about wanting to be as much of a zero waste family as possible, so I knew it was something I really needed to consider. One menstrual cup can last 10 – 20 years which effectively means you divert at least 3000 tampons or sanitary pads from going into the landfill. Then, think of all the resources you’re saving from the creation of these disposable menstrual products?
MENSTRUAL CUP MAKES LIFE EASY
My tryst with menstrual cups started one day when I was at one of my local grocery shops and I chanced upon the Menstrual Cups by Australian brand Juju while I was in the sanitary items aisle. I wasn’t due for my period, so I didn’t buy it at the time. When I got home I went to their website to read up about them properly. To see how easy they are to use, what size should I buy, as there are 2 model sizes to choose from, model 1 for women who have never had children & model 2 for women who have had children. One of the big attractions to this particular brand was that the company was Australian and I’m a big one for buying homegrown local brands.
HOW TO USE THE MENSTRUAL CUP?
So when the time came for my period I went and bought my Juju menstrual cup in model 2. The next morning I got the cup ready as per the instructions, read how it was to be folded & inserted. Though I was freaking out, but I did it. It went in fine. I was like wow!! This isn’t so bad after all. Then during the day I was freaking out about whether it would overfill & leak. Would I even be able to remove it! 12 hours was up. It was time to take the cup out. No leakage, YAY! I struggled though. There is a tip on the end of the cup that remains sticking out of the vagina that I thought I could just pull on to remove it. Which is a big NO NO! The cup basically is suctioned inside the vagina after it is inserted, so that suction needs to be released before the cup can easily be removed. That is what I was struggling to do, release that suction. I tried to follow the steps from the leaflet, but I still struggled. I did manage to get it out & was amazed that the cup wasn’t as full as I thought it was going to be. I continued using the cup for the remainder of my cycle. If I’m being honest it was always easy to insert, but taking it out was hard. I persevered though, as I really loved that I only had to take it out 2 times a day. I couldn’t feel the cup once it was inserted and it didn’t leak. It is odour free which was something I was apprehensive about. I didn’t have to worry about disposing of a tampon or sanitary napkin. These were all things that helped me decide to use it again for my next cycle. So next time around I used my “Juju cup” again and this second cycle was a breeze- the easiest period I have dealt with.
I have used my menstrual cup for about 4 periods now and I would never look back. I am so proud of myself for giving it a go. If you asked me 1 year ago if I would ever use a menstrual cup I would have said “No way!” Now if you ask me to use a tampon or sanitary pad I’d say “No way!”
BENEFITS OF USING MENSTRUAL CUP
There are so many benefits from using a menstrual cup, like how much money I am now saving. I have found that my period is now lighter and I am not really having any cramps like I use to. I can wear the cup for 12 hours at a time. I am no longer creating waste that goes into landfills, so I am one step closer to my zero waste dreams. It’s so easy to clean & disinfect. It comes with a little storage bag for in-between uses. It contains no harmful substances. It’s hypoallergenic, doesn’t contain any absorption agents, so it doesn’t cause vaginal dryness. I don’t feel the cup at all once it is inserted. If you have ever thought about trying one or reading this has got you interested I highly recommend doing so. I have been very happy with the first one I tried. If the one you try doesn’t work for you, don’t be discouraged. I have heard of people who have tried a few brands until they found the cup that works for them. Also don’t be discouraged if you struggle during your first cycle. You might be like me and get it right the second time around!
Urbanmeisters, menstrual cups are becoming very popular day by day especially for working women who find it hard to change their disposable sanitary products at every interval. But we invite you to give the menstrual cup a try to minimise the environmental impact of your periods. This contribution to reduce waste at such a simple individual level is certainly worth a shot. We give Jessica two thumbs ups for her very interesting zero waste initiative and her courage to lead by example. Follow Jessica’s zero waste journey on Instagram @ourzerowastefamily for more such inspiring initiatives, tips and areas where zero waste changes can be easily made.
Meet more women driving sustainability
1. London Ethical Knitwear brand STUDY 34
2. Revolution through Underwear with Mighty Good Undies