{an eco guide to feminine care products} 4 truly liberating girl products

Friday, March 10, 2017


okay eco boys + girls, today we're celebrating the female body + the "intricate ecosystem" within that brings us new life. here's a little secret i've shared with very few people: i love being a woman. i really do.

marilyn monroe once reflected, "one of the best things that ever happened to me is that i'm a woman." the fact that women can create a human being is truly magnificent, and the only way that can happen is by way of our monthly menstrual cycle. those close to me know that i hold no subject up so that it becomes unmentionable or taboo. so today we tour the feminine hygiene space + the many options available to care for her body via organic and reusable personal care products that are created sans pesticides, insecticides and dioxins: to keep her healthy, confident + empowered. 

healthy bodies + sound minds are entwined with daily decisions that we make + products that we buy. some female products, including tampons + pads, support us in our efforts to remain strong + healthy, while many of the conventional female products lining the shelves of pharmacies + stores contain endocrine disruptors linked to reproductive damage {including reduced sperm count}, cancer + developmental disorders. 

i'm bringing you four natural, nontoxic personal care products; each product is instrumental to remaining proactive in maintaining our reproductive  + neurological health. honestly, these products have simplified my life + given me so much peace of mind. let's explore the options: 


{a brief history, well, semi-brief}

"the female body is an intricate ecosystem.

your vaginal tissue is delicate and absorbent—that’s why we regard a woman’s tampon choice as an essential health decision. but the feminine care industry lacks regulation.
women don’t get the full picture on the products they use. both the materials and chemicals commonly found in most tampons—and their effects on women’s bodies—are largely hidden from consumers. that’s why women deserve better." molly hayward + morgan newman, cora co-founders

did you know that tampons are classified as "medical devices" by the fda, and as such there are no labeling requirements for ingredients? allergens + chemicals linked to cancer and other toxity can be avoided if we know what to avoid.* as women, we arm ourselves with information + we make healthy choices. here's the info + here are our choices.
dioxin
dioxin is a harmful by-product of the chlorine-bleaching process used in the wood pulp industry which includes the manufacture of feminine hygiene products such as pads, panty liners and tampons made from rayon or rayon/cotton blends. evidence is growing that even low levels of dioxin exposure may be linked to cancer {including breast cancer}, endometriosis, low sperm counts + immune system suppression. rayon + dioxin exposure over a lifetime of use increases chances of disease.

tampons
for centuries, women around the world have fashioned their own versions of tampons. ancient egyptian women created tampons from papyrus; while in rome, wool was used; in japan, paper; and in parts of africa, rolls of grass. the tampon that is similar to today's product was developed by a male doctor in denver, colorado, in the 1930's. it was composed of 100% cotton. today conventional cotton is grown using pesticides, insecticides + herbicides; exposure to tampon ingredients such as dioxins + furans {from the chlorine bleaching process} as well as pesticide/insecticide residue have a cumulative effect when absorbed by a highly permeable part of a woman's body.

pads + liners
up until the 1920's, external pads were made from cloth + laundered for reuse. nurses using surgical dressings made from a wood pulp derivative called alpha cellulose began using it, and eventually it came to be used to make feminine hygiene pads. disposable pads began to be manufactured to replace the homemade varieties. again, the developments and modifications in pads + liners may not have been in the best interest of the consumer. modern brands use a "dry weave cover" which is actually apertured plastic. women are generally unaware of this fact and are therefore compromising their health via continual exposure over a lifetime {plus, there's the environmental factor of disposing of used pads}.


"we believe every woman on the planet has the right to period products that perform without harming her body" molly + morgan, cora

rayon + dioxin
rayon is a wood pulp derivative that is commonly chlorine bleached and is more absorbent than cotton. dioxin, a byproduct of the bleaching process found in rayon + a toxic chemical compound, collects in the fatty tissues of animals including humans {dioxin is an unintentional byproduct of industrial processes such as waste incineration + fuel combustion; it can also be found in cigarette smoke + car exhaust}. bioaccumulation is a risk factor: considering a woman may use as many 11,000 tampons in her lifetime, she subjects herself to dioxin exposure.*

toxic shock syndrome
rayon itself may pose another risk. results of a study recently published in infectious diseases in obstetrics + gynecology* suggest that the use of all-cotton tampons may reduce the risk of toxic shock syndrome when compared with rayon + rayon-blend tampons. the study included 20 varieties of tampons, a polyurethane contraceptive sponge, a latex diaphragm + a polymer menstrual collection cup. all-cotton tampons did not produce the dangerous tss toxin, staphylococcus aureus, while all other varieties of tampons containing rayon amplified production of the toxin tss=t1.

additives
surfactants are used in tampons to increase absorbency. surfactants are also used in consumer + industrial detergents and are considered pollutants. these surfactants, as well as synthetic fragrances, may pose additional health risks, although these additives are commonly used in feminine hygiene products. presently, manufacturers are not required by the fda to list ingredients; consequently, women may not be aware that they are using products containing rayon + other ingredients.


four healthy, easy + simple choices

hesta
honestly, this is where it all changed for me. these are my favorite! remember, forests are being toppled daily to make pads + liners; in a society that embraces disposable products, this is where we can bend our thinking. these super absorbent, organic cotton pads are reusablewashable. that means you launder them, then hang them to dry, and then you do it all over again next month. i've not invested in disposable pads since the discovery of these soft, light + breathable options. starter sets + cute travel pouches available on hesta's site too.

natracare
natracare uses chlorine-free, organic cotton for their pads, shields + tampons and sources their raw materials from managed, scandanavian forests {conventional products are still being produced using wood harvested from endangered forests}. leaders in the world of feminine care, this ethical company saw a void in the natural feminine care market in 1989 + decided to create a solution: they offer products that are eco-friendly, biodegradable + provide protection sans irritation. available across the globe.



thinx
thinx are period-proof underwear made with technology built into the underwear that absorbs flow and wicks away moisture from your body, so you feel clean + so comfortable you might actually forget you have your cycle. now that's a great product. these undies are reusable: that means you wash them + keep them for next month {and save lots of money while you're doing so; invest in more than one to make life easier}. my bestie sent me a pair of these underoos for my birthday, and it is one of my fave eco gifts. make your gal pal smile, too: get her her very own pair. learn more about the work thinx does to educate + bring feminine care products to girls around the world here.

cora
cora's aim is to offer women the safest, purest tampons without sacrificing performance. they want every woman + girl on the planet to have a safe + effective way to manage her period. i first learned of the global period crisis at cora's website, where i came to understand that 100 million girls across the world drop out of school when they reach puberty simply because they lack access to adequate menstrual products {with a large number represented in india + africa}. for every month's supply of cora you receive, cora gives a month's supply of sustainable pads to a girl in a developing country. what better way to empower another woman, than by aiding in the completion of her education? i've said it before, and i'll say it again: knowledge is power + education is liberation.

{don't forget the tip} some of you may be wondering: where's the cup?! i've actually never used a menstrual cup, but one of my best gal pal swears by them, so i'll be sure to try + add to the list if all goes well!

until next time, stay green, dear hearts!
{images via respective companies // history text via natracare // artwork by f+d}

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