Every 28 days, going green

Every 28 days, going green

by Hailey Colwell

Some University of Minnesota students are switching from disposable sanitary products to more sustainable ones during their menstrual cycles.

Junior Maitreyi Ray was frustrated with the high cost and waste created by disposable sanitary products.

“It felt like this big, unnecessary hassle,” Ray said.

That stopped her sophomore year when her roommate got her a DivaCup — a reusable silicone cup that can typically be worn longer than pads and tampons.

 The DivaCup was invented in 2003 to give women an ecologically responsible alternative to disposable period products.

“The more options we have, the better,” said Lisa Mattson, a gynecologist at Boynton Health Service’s Women’s Clinic.

Mattson said many of the athletes she works with use reusable feminine products because they don’t want to deal with disposable products at athletic events.

She said creating less waste is an added bonus to the longer amount of time reusable products can be worn.

“As far as our carbon footprint goes,” she said, “we’re going to leave less behind.”

Switching to a silicone cup can also prevent infections caused by traces of cotton that tampons leave in the vagina, Mattson said.

“It’s certainly not for everybody,” she said, “but it’s a nice option for women who are more concerned about their environment and their overall health.”

Genetics freshman Thera Slayton said she started using the DivaCup about three months ago because she was looking for a way to lower her risk of toxic shock syndrome — a rare, yet serious infection that can result from tampon use.

Although the cup’s environmental impact wasn’t her primary reason for trying it, she said using the DivaCup makes her think about how much she throws away.

“I’m not a crazy hippie,” she said. “But I might be turning into one from this.”

Ray said learning to use the greener cup has made her more comfortable with her body.

“Sanitary products don’t work for everybody, and they’re not supposed to,” she said. “People should try out different options and see what works for them.”

Not having to worry about having a tampon on hand has changed the way she thinks about her period, she said.

“It’s not like this big event in my life,” she said. “I have this cool thing that’ll help me get through it.”