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Friday, September 3, 2010

Tampons Are Trash (2006)

From Slingshot issue 92

By Kristen Anderberg

If you are still using disposable menstrual pads or tampons, you might as well be drinking out of non-biodegradable styrofoam cups! Tampons and disposable menstrual products are unnecessary trash. If you are environmentally conscious, you should quit using them today! There are many reasons to stop using disposable menstrual products--environmental health, anti-consumerism, anti-corporate control of our body, health, feminism, women's body esteem, and more.

In the zine "Let's Forget Everything We Learned About Being A Girl…Bloodsisters of the World…Unite and Take Over!" (which was made as part of the Belladonna DIY Fest '04), they write, "over 12 billion pads and 7 million tampons are used once and disposed of annually, and that 170,000 tampon applicators were collected along the US coastal areas between 1998 and 1999." They also said that in California, it is illegal to feed the leaves, stems or short fibers of cotton to livestock due to pesticide residue, but this cotton is instead allowed to be made into tampons, mattresses, cotton balls. If it's not good enough for cows to eat, why would you want it in your cunt?

In recent years, biodegradable cotton menstrual products, made by companies like Seventh Generation, have emerged on the market. This is definitely a move in the right direction, except they are still one-use products, and their high price is cost-prohibitive for many women. Most women still do not use their own cloth pads, like their grannies did. Yet women continue to bleed monthly, and the landfills are piled high with non-biodegradable tampons and pads full of blood. There are more conscious ways to deal with our menstrual blood and the environment.

Before the "sanitary protection" industry was created, women used absorbent materials such as moss, sponges, and cloth for their menstrual flows, for thousands of years. Most likely, your granny used cloth pads, not corporate disposable "protection." The "sanitary protection" industry speaks about menstruation as if it is something women should dread, abhor, fear and hide. They act like Big Brother is here to sell you "protection" from your own body fluids. By acting like menstrual fluids are toxic, women are degraded and belittled. In addition to the industry, several religions have heavy dogmas around menstruating women, such as sexual taboos, food preparation taboos, etc. In American culture, we teach girls and women that their genitals should not be aggrandized or symbolized in any manner outside of the control of the porn or sanitary protection industries!

Buying disposable menses products is a form of consumerism, and most menses products come from big corporations. Why support more big corporations via your menses? Why consume unnecessarily? Sanitary protection corporations and industries have profited by exploiting women's body esteem insecurities. You can choose not to support them.

Health is another reason to give up commercial menstrual products. Disposable tampons and pads very often are full of weird chemicals, bleach, and synthetic fibers that can cut up your vagina and vulva like little strands of glass. Some people argue menstrual fluids are supposed to flow out of us, not be blocked up inside with a tampon...and thus prefer pads. I am of this school, that feels "corking" your menstrual flow is not optimum. I feel it best to just bond with women everywhere all over the planet forever, and to honor my flow. You should do what works for you.

You can easily make your own cloth pads. I often just rip up strips of flannel, fold them into a rectangle a few folds thick, sew the edges if you want to, and they're ready to use. In an emergency, you can fold a tube sock in half! But you can also buy really nice pre-made cloth, reusable, menstrual pads from companies such as Many Moons, Pandora Pads, Lotus Pads and others.

Cotton menstrual pads are a good gift to give young girls you know who are just beginning to menstruate. A gift like that can help start girls off in a direction of honoring the menses flow, rather than pretending nothing is happening. Be proud of your blood. It is not toxic. It is not shameful. You do not need protection or sanitation. You just need washable cotton pads!

Read Kirsten at www.kirstenanderberg.com

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