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I've saved $400 using a menstrual cup and cloth pads - this is what I did with the money

I've saved $400 using a menstrual cup and cloth pads
Photo from Death to Stock Photo
When I decided to reduce my plastic waste, one of the first swaps I made, was to invest in a menstrual cup and cloth pads. I continue to use these happily three years on.

Aside from the endless plastic waste that I have avoided since July 2013, the biggest drawcard has been the amount of money saved.

I have saved over $400 by simply reusing.

Once I tallied up the amount I could have saved on tampons and pads since I got my first period. The amount was in the thousands. In all my talks, I stress that I wish my younger self had known about reusable menstrual items.

Years ago I volunteered for a week at a female refugee, set up over Christmas. Women who live on the street (voluntary and involuntary) were given the opportunity to stay at the refuge, enjoy a meal, have a shower and sleep in peace. When a new woman arrived, we would take them to a room that was full of second hand clothes and donated toiletries. One of the first items each new woman grabbed was the tampons and pads. It had never occurred to me before what women living on the streets or fleeing a domestic situation did for their period.

Last year, a woman was fined $500 for stealing a pack of tampons from a service station. The lady had allegedly stolen the tampons for a friend who was too embarrassed to buy them herself. I could only imagine that stealing tampons and pads is far more common than anyone would know. They are an expensive necessity.

While it was nice that I had saved all this extra money, I made the decision to pass it on. I have a roof over my head and food in my cupboards. If things were to ever go belly up, my family and friends would help me out. But not everyone has the same support networks. 

Share the Dignity is an Australian organisation that collects a range of menstrual items to pass onto women in need.

With the $400 I had saved, I was able to buy 10 JuJu cups for 10 women who would like to use menstrual cups during their period. The women are offered what type of menstrual item they would like. I chose to donate menstrual cups because they are what I use. I love them and sing their praise to anyone who asks.

The menstrual items are supplied to organisations that work with homeless and women at risk of homelessness, including domestic and family violence refuges.

You can click here to learn more about other products that can be donated or find drop off points in your area.

Most women don't really have a choice when it comes to our periods. It arrives each month regardless of where we are or what we are going through. No woman should have to question her accessibility to a sanitary item, whatever she may chose.

I often talk about how reducing waste and how we spend our money can help drive equality. So too can sharing, in all it's different ways. And what I did was just that, sharing what I had with others.

14 comments

  1. I have the pads from Eco Femme and i am really happy with them!

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    1. I have yet to meet a lady that has not fallen in love with reusable pads :)

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  2. This is so fantastic! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. No worries Elizabeth. Thanks for your kinds words.

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  3. That is such a nice gesture! Big hug for that!

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    1. Thanks :) It's something I would like to do more of in the future.

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  4. Erin you are a special person :) thanks so much for sharing this. I saw share the dignity campaign and thought I would like to give menstrual cups but I wasn't sure if that would be appropriate. You have set a great example and I would have saved a similar amount over the last 10 years, so I'll be giving several cups too.

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    1. That's so sweet of you to say. It's great they offer it as an option to women, and not just the regular pads and tampons. All women deserve a choice, no matter where they are in life :) Good on you for donating too. It's so nice of you xx

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  5. What a nice thing to do! I haven't quite made the plunge myself, but I likely will soon...I've still got product to use up. I think it is a great idea. I will have to do something similar as food pantries and homeless shelters would probably love these.

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    1. The plunge will be worth it :) Donating your old products that you are using up would go to a good cause too.

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  6. Hi Erin. I have to say thank you for all the tips, all the articles and all the great ideas. Whilst I've tried to reduce my plastic consumption for a number of years now, its only been the past week I've decided to give waste free a go. I must say, its so hard to avoid packaging! You need to find a substitute for everything!! I have been finding your page so very useful. And who new there were reusuable menstrual products??? I would definitely give the juju cup ago. Thank you abd keep it up. Regards Linda

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    1. Hi Linda, it can be so overwhelming to avoid all the packaging. But it's not about perfection, it's about making changes where we can that work with our lives. I will admit that I had never heard of reusable menstrual products when i started either and they had been around for a long time. All the best :)

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  7. My 2017 New Year resolution is to reduce waste and I have a feeling this might as well be the only resolution that I can commit to. :) I've already started using menstrual cup two months ago and have just purchased a few cloth pads as backups. If this system works I can really stop using disposal products once and for all and donate all my sanitary items to women in need. Really looking forward to that. :)

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    1. That's so awesome to hear :) Starting with a cup and cloth pads is usually one of the trickier items people find to swap, so you have tackled the hardest first. I am confident that you will stick to your resolution to reduce waste this year. All the best.

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