I just read an article published on the Ms. Magazine website entitled Some Bloody Good Feminism for Earth Day. The authors espouse the benefits of reusable menstrual products and the potential harms of disposables to the earth and to women. While I am an avid environmentalist and feminist, I really love my disposable pads and tampons. I’ve tried alternatives and I find that they just don’t meet my needs.
I agree that the materials used in menstrual products should be of the highest quality and should be 100% biodegradable. I also agree that they should be free from tax and free in any facility that has public bathrooms. I think giving women as many options as possible for their comfort and health is absolutely essential. I do not, however, believe that the burden of saving the planet through the use of reusables should fall upon women who would otherwise prefer disposables.
If pads and tampons harm the earth, steps need to be taken to curb that. If they’re potentially harmful to women’s bodies, that needs to stop as well. However, women have long been made to shoulder the burden of others’ irresponsibility and I don’t see how this situation is any different. Periods are as normal and natural as any other bodily function and should be no more expensive or cause any more harm to the environment than any other sanitary product (i.e. toilet paper). If a menstruating woman decides she wants to go the reusable route, awesome, but save the “do your part” speeches for state legislatures and companies that produce disposable products–the burden should be upon them, not women, to make high quality products that do not harm the earth or women.