Fertile Ground: Bloody Ecofeminism
There are a lot of simple ways to try and prevent toxins from being absorbed into your body. Everything from new clothes to drugstore make-up to regular deodorant carries toxins, and your skin, which happens to be the largest eliminating organ your body has, absorbs all that it comes in contact with. But fear not; much can be done to avoid these contacts (wearing organic materials or thrift clothes that have been washed numerous times, wearing natural or no make-up, using a deodorant crystal or another homemade product are a few examples). One of the simplest things you can do (if you don't already) is to stop using conventional menstruation products.
"Feminine hygiene"-aisle standards like Tampax, Kotex, and Always have their tampons and maxi pads prominently displayed in drugstores, convenience stores, and grocery stores, and sometimes, depending on where you are, with no alternative. These disposable products are mainly a mad scientist-mixture of rayon, cotton, and the chemicals they carry from processing. Rayon is a synthetic material that is largely blamed for toxic shock syndrome (TSS) risk. Cotton, when not organic, is brimming with pesticides; twenty-five percent of all global pesticide use is used for growing cotton. (Seriously, don't even buy those cotton balls anymore!). Tampons and pads are then bleached to hell with chlorine, which create cancer-causing-and-highly-toxic-in-general dioxins. The average menstruating person in Western society disposes 10,000 to 15,000 pads or tampons. These dioxins, much like disposable diapers, then leach into landfills, eventually getting into soil, plants and water.
The billion-dollar marketers for mainstream menstrual products have convinced millions that these toxin-laden products are the only options to "have a happy period," to quote a former Always ad campaign. The truth is, it is much simpler and healthier to not use them. People have been using re-useable or biodegradable products to catch menses fluid for centuries. Absorbent materials used in olden days include mosses, seaweed, cotton scraps, wool scraps, and plant fibers. Early tampon materials varied; in parts of Southern Africa, rolls of grass could be used, and softened papyrus has been used in Egypt.
Today, we have modern earth-friendly versions of these blood catchers, including washable pads, menstrual cups like the Keeper and the Diva cup, and sea sponges. It is also easy to make your own washable pads out of scrap fabric, old washcloths, or old, torn clothing, and you don't need a sewing machine if you don't have one. I myself have purchased pads from Luna Pads, own a few sea sponges from Jade and Pearl, and have made pads from old flannel pajama pants, a polka-dot cloth napkin, and one of my son's cloth diapers that I took for myself (don't give me that look, they're absorbent!).
Menstruation is a huge ecofeminist umbrella of a topic, with many mini-topics that drip around it, including health and wellness. In traditional Chinese medicine, your period can tell many things about the health of your body. Acupuncture considers menstruation a gift, another way health and sickness specifics are told and revealed. This is one way we can think of our periods, too; a sign of health, an indicator of a gift, something to be thankful for. Your re-useable menstrual products can serve as those reminders. And I highly recommend at least one pad made from a polka-dot fabric.
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