The Environment and a Girl's Period

What the Bloody Hell? Screw sustainability; keep your green garbage away from my vagina.

By Kate Holloway

illustration of the bloody bog of coagulation period blood

I ordered some coffee at the local vegan cafe the other day and picked up a floral business card on display at the counter. I glanced at it while taking a sip of my steaming free-trade organic espresso and read: “Aunt Flo’s Pads: reusable feminine hygiene products.” My brown backwash sprayed all over the barista’s face.

I Googled “Aunt Flo’s Pads” to find out more about washable blood rags, desperately hoping they weren’t as bad as my visions of white cloth adult diapers. They were worse. Priced between $10 and $15, depending on the color and pattern, these eight-inch hemp fleece “pads” sport removable inserts for light and medium days (double up on your heavy days!) and snap right around your underwear. Now your clitoris can know the soft comfort of your North Face, until you actually start menstruating and your pelvic area turns into a sticky red bog of coagulation.

“Holistically Heather,” the blogger who markets these products also suggests “Sea Pearls: Natural Sea Sponge Tampons,” but questions their level of sustainability because they aren’t vegan. No shit, Heather. The Web site describes them as “plant-like creatures growing in colonies on the ocean floor” that you stick in your vagina. Great, I really want ocean critters absorbing my reproductive waste.

“Holistically Heather,” psychotic as she is, isn’t alone. The “Tampaction” movement, an offshoot of the Student Environmental Action Coalition advocacy group, attempts to teach “femstrators” about the dangers of using potentially toxic disposable hygiene products. According to The Keeper, Inc., women discard an estimated 12 billion pads and tampons annually, filling landfills with harmful toxins. It’s an admirable cause, but if my only alternative is throwing bloody rags in the laundry, I’m filling up my garbage can.

Illustration by Keisha Cedeno