There is a lot of things we can do as a man or a woman, transgender, a Jedi or whoever we are to make our life easier and more sustainable at the same time. It can be small changes with big impacts such as changing your plastic toothbrush for a biodegradable one, or changes that requires some kind of commitment, like having a worm farm to reduce your organic waste. Today I want to talk about these small things we can do, the ones easy to implement, that improve our daily life and help us reduce our footprint as a woman. In fact it was not my first intention to focus on what women can do, but I realized two out of three of my tips did not really apply to a non-woman being. Not that I am sexist, but I am not sure men are using tampons and make-up removal cotton pads as often as we do. That being said, I believe we’re all brushing our teeth on a daily basis, unless you’re a toothless Yoda or this person with questionable hygiene who was sitting beside me in the bus this morning. So the last tip is valid for all!
1. Reusable Microfibre Cloth VS Disposable Cotton Pads
Unfortunately, women are larger consumer of disposable cotton pads these days due the pressure of society to make us appear the most unnatural as possible by using tons of make up – which is a pain and a waste of time and material to apply and remove. Even if you’re like me and gave up make up a long time ago, deciding your health, time and not trashing mother nature were more important than society’s expectations, you could still use cotton pads. I personally was still using cotton pads twice a day with my face cleansing lotion until last year. And all of a sudden I decided it was time to put an end to this wastage non sense and find alternatives!
It is not uncommon to use 2, 3 or 4 cotton pads to remove all the nasty thing you put on your face and eyelids. Of course, the easiest thing would be to stop wearing make up and use a gentle natural cleanser instead of lotions. But since the world is apparently not ready yet to accept women as they are, and women not yet ready to not give a f***k (and special skin needs sometimes also come into play I reckon), I found that when one does not have a choice than using some kind of fabric, microfibre was a good alternative to cotton, as it is reusable hundreds of times without loosing its absorbing properties.
How to use it
Any microfibre cloth you’ll find in your supermarket kitchen utensils aisle or in sport stores will do just fine, you just need to cut them into little or big squares to accommodate your needs. Then, simple use them as you would do with a cotton one, but instead of throwing it away, put it into your dirty laundry basket. Microfibre is ultra absorbing, and does a much better job than cotton. And you can even use it just with water to remove impurities and pollution off your face!
Where to find it
In any store selling household or sports products. I find that the ”fluffy” type is working better than the the ”smooth” type.
2. Menstrual Cup VS Tampons and Pads
So…Are you using tampons and serviettes for your periods? Did you know you could use a menstrual cup instead, that cost you less than 60$, that you can reuse for years, keep all day long without having to empty it, completely leak and odour proof, with no risk of toxic shock syndrome ? Using tampons sounds safe to use, but when you look into what are they made of (rayon, cotton, plastic, that comes with a bunch of toxic chemicals), you never want to use one again.
Finally, let’s be honest, blood soaked pads are gross and also lead to infections, they’re just disgusting smelly things in your bin, and since they’re made of plastic they are not biodegradable. With a menstrual cup, no leak – so no pads needed, you just have to empty your cup from time to time, maybe a couple of times per day when you’re at your peak. Furthermore, you’ll break even in only a few month, and you will never need to buy one again!! Or maybe after a few years if your cup is cracked or if you feel like something is wrong with it. You simply need to sterilise the silicon cup after each period by boiling it in water a few minutes, and it’s ready to be used again.
So do yourself and the environment a favour and skip those nasty tampons filled with chlorine, carbon disulphide, sulfuric acid, and caustic soda that your body absorb straight away. Now I know a lot of women are also using pads – to make up for their tampon leaks, or because they’re afraid of touching their own body/blood. (Yes, you will need to touch yourself and maybe have a bit of blood on your hand in order to insert the menstrual cup, and to remove it, but hey, that’s fine this body and blood that comes with it are yours ok!). If you really can’t handle the cup, know that safe and leak free reusable pads exists too, they are just as inconvenient as the disposable one in my opinion, but at least they won’t harm you or mother nature as much.
How does it work
You’ll first need to choose between two sizes, depending if you’ve had children or not and your age (don’t ask me why your vagina is suppose to grow with age I have no idea). Then comes the tricky part of inserting/removing the cup, but I promise it becomes really easy once you get the hang of it after a couple of times. Basically the silicone cup is very supple and can be folded to be placed easily. Once it is where it should be – meaning where it is comfortable and you can’t feel it anymore (a bit like a tampon), it unfolds itself and creates the kinda vacuum sealed space it needs to do its job without leaking. You’re all done, now you’ll need to remove it. By the way, you can absolutely try to put it on and remove it before having your period. It is less stressful than doing it 5 min before going to work on a period day. So, the removal part: the cup has a little thingy that you can gently pull to bring the cup closer to the exit, then you squeeze the bottom of the cup and turn it slightly to break the seal, and pull it out (keeping it straight if you don’t want to make a mess). Then you just empty the cup in the toilet, rinse it with water, wash your hands eventually and put it back. You can wash it with extra gentle soap in between uses but you don’t need to. At the end of your period, boil it for a few minutes in water (making sure there is enough water so you don’t let the cup burn) and put it back in its little pouch ready for next time.
Where to find it
3. Biodegradable Toothbrush VS Plastic Toothbrush
This is valid for guys too of course. You know my love for bamboo toothbrushes, they are compostable and biodegrade in soil or landfill in less than 6 month. Think about how many toothbrushes you’re using in your lifetime: if you brush your teeth for 90 years and change it every 2 months, that would be an average of 720 toothbrushes! In the US alone, 450 million toothbrushes end up in landfills every year… These plastic toothbrushes never degrade, and will remain a pollution long, long after your teeth are gone. There is absolutely no reason to not make the switch, simply google ”Bamboo Toothbrush” and you’ll find plenty of online store and health store that sell them in your area, or deliver it to your door.
How does it work
When you’re done with it, rinse it but don’t let it soak in water as it can cause the bamboo to crack. When its time has come, you can either throw it away in a general bin for landfill disposal, or bury it in your garden to be biodegraded (it takes between 3 and 6 month depending on your soil).
Where to find it
In some specialised health & nutrition stores, or online for delivery in Australia at Bamboo Village.