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There are multiple reasons to change to a more sustainable option for your period. The most important one is that pads and tampons contribute to landfills. I was using about 15 tampons per menstrual cycle which is almost 200 tampons per year. During the course of your entire life, this is a massive amount of tampons.
Next to the contribution to landfills, there are also lots of toxins present in tampons. According to this article, tampons and other sanitary products contain dioxins. Even though they mention that the amount of toxins present in tampons is small and much lower compared to the amount present in our diet, I would not want those chemicals near my lady parts.
Next to dioxin, tampons can also contain bleach (to make them white), synthetic fibers (for extra absorbance) and fragrance (for a nice smell). Unfortunately, tampons and other sanitary products are not food products so the manufacturers are not obligated to put all the chemicals they have used onto the package.
So, if tampons contain all these unnatural products, what is a good alternative? I have found that a menstrual cup is a great alternative to tampons. Instead of absorbing your flow, it is collected in the cup. There are many different styles, brands, and prices so be sure to do your research to find the best fit for you.
I personally use a Lunette menstrual cup. I have been using this one over a year now and I love it. Most of these menstrual cups are made of medical grade BPA free silicon. Please double check this, especially if you decide to go for a more budget-friendly option. As there are no chemicals involved, the chance of toxic shock syndrome is almost zero which is a big advantage.
Another advantage is that a cup has a much greater capacity compared to tampons. I only have to empty the cup twice a day on heavy days and once a day on light days (on light days I use nothing during the night). I choose a type 2 of the lunette cup which was recommended for women who either had a baby (vaginally) or who work out (lift weights) on a regular basis. Back then both applied to me so I choose a type 2. I bought mine at a natural living fair where I could see and feel different brands and styles. If you have the opportunity to see and feel different brands, I highly recommend doing this.
In the beginning, I was a bit hesitant about it as I thought I might feel it or it might be painful or there might be leaks but for me, it works great. The first few times inserting the cup is a little weird and if it is not inserted correctly, you might feel the stem which can be annoying. For me, the removing of the cup is still uncomfortable but this differs per person. I am still using the cup so it is not that bad.
If using a menstrual cup still seems to be a little scary for you, there are also organic alternatives for tampons. These do not contain bleach, fragrance or synthetic fiber but only natural ingredients. Using reusables is still a better (and more economical) alternative but this could be a good first step.