National Geographic had a brilliant article the other week about the shocking plastic waste that’s collecting across our oceans and coastlines. It’s horrifying and distressing and I’m so glad that we’re finally waking up to the reality. The article included the handy list of how to reduce/reuse/recycle without overly inhibiting your lifestyle: carry a re-usable bag, decline plastic straws etc. However, they missed off a way in which you can actually improve your lifestyle and help the planet, use a Mooncup.
Ok so, it’s hard to write this one without isolating potentially half my readership. But I assure you, I wouldn’t write about it if it wasn’t important, so bear with!
I was shocked to learn in Bolivia that school girls are reduced to hiding used tampons inside their belongings to dispose of them once they are home. Why? Because it’s believed that periods can contaminate rubbish and lead to cancer… If you want to find out more about scary alternative period truths around the world, Huffington Post did an interesting article, here.
As I started to dig around, more and more shocking revelations began to surface and I had to face up to the fact that poor female hygiene was being practiced in these countries that I have travelled and come to adore so much.
It’s only been a year since I discovered the Mooncup – a small silicone cup designed to collect, be washed and re-used and I already wouldn’t want to live without it. A friend introduced it to me, driven by environmental concerns but actually, as a (female) backpacker, it’s your hygiene and independence passport too.
It sounds daft perhaps but, women’s bodies aren’t always the hormone-controlled metronome you want them to be. My body has it’s own agenda, but so do I. And with only 15kg to last me eight months, carting around boxes of tampons (just in case) whilst trekking around Peru was not high on the priority list.
It’s been somewhat revelationary, being able to carry around this small, malleable companion. I don’t have to conspicuously pick up my bag when going to the toilet, I don’t resent spending money on tampons I don’t need to buy, I don’t need to worry about blocking toilets, open-top bins, finding a bin(!) or being unprepared. This cup is there for me. It’s discrete, it’s convenient, it lasts several years and it’s more environmentally friendly than the average 11,000 (non-biodegradable) tampons a woman uses in a lifetime.
So it got me thinking, why aren’t these more socially accepted or at least, more openly discussed. Could these not help with female hygiene around the world! Let’s fight the period stigma and encourage familiarity and celebration of the female form!! Of course, my big ideas got ahead of me. I hadn’t considered that with good feminine hygiene needs to come access to clean water, an issue that Mooncup and others are aware of and trying to combat. And of course, it demands rather a drastic change in attitude across various cultures, education and religions for it to be widely accepted.
So for now, I need to start small, think local, spread the word and feel comfortable discussing those things that have really made my life better, both at home, and whilst backpacking.
I’ll be starting right here in London.. what about you?