Attention: this is a post intended for female audiences, men may care to look away.
So ladies, here is an environmental issue that you've probably never heard about on the news or read about online: your period. That might sound silly, but think about it. All feminine hygiene products seem to be one time use, completely disposable, and individually packaged. We open up a tampon or a pad and within hours the entire everything is in the trash, and then we start again. To really put this issue in perspective, here is some scary math courtesy of http://divacup.com/community/eco-divas/ : the average woman uses 20 tampons per cycle, 240 tampons per year, and since the average woman menstruates for 40 years, that is 9,600 tampons in a lifetime. Now multiply that by the world's population of women and the result is a whole lot of trash. In addition to all of the trash, producing, packaging, and shipping that many products takes a lot of raw materials and energy as well. And in addition to even that, some of these products may contain traces of nasty things like dioxins (a known carcinogen) from the bleaching process they use on the fibers. Between trash, energy, pollution, and toxins, tampons aren't seeming like such a good idea anymore.
But what else are you supposed to do? Hygiene is essential.
The answer is the Diva Cup. It is a durable silicone cup that you use kind of like a tampon, but not really (I'll let you research the dirty details). It is so durable, in fact, that you can reuse just one cup for up to 10 years! That's right, one feminine product for 10 years! That is significantly less waste than 2,400 tampons would be. (Retailers suggest replacing the product about once a year in order to retain business and to avoid chances of health issues. However it is really up to you, your body, and how you treat your product to decide how often you would like to replace it. No matter what, it's lifetime will be longer than that of a tampon).
It can seem really bizarre at first, and one can be thrown off by it's price ($30-$40), but since you only have to buy it once every few years it saves so much trash and money in the long run. It really is worth a try. Do some research, do some thinking, and then either head over to your local Whole Foods Market (the only store that carries the Diva Cup) or order online (plenty of places!), and feel good about what you're doing for the environment and your wallet each and every month. Tell your girlfriends too! I would never have known about this eco-friendly product if it weren't for my friend telling me about it. I know that it can be taboo to talk about such private things, but when the environment is at stake maybe we should start talking.