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

23 August 2016
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.

Make your own plastic free zero waste shoe polish

3 August 2016
Make your own plastic free zero waste shoe polish

As I have navigated my way through this plastic free and zero waste lifestyle, one rule that has been a constant is looking after my things. Whatever it is, I care for it as if I'm going to own this item for life or be in good enough condition that if I passed it onto someone else, it would continue to look and function well. Luckily my mother taught me from a young age the importance on the regular polishing of my leather shoes to make them last.

I have memories of sitting next to the fire, polishing my Clark school shoes. Those sessions of rubbing the polish on, followed by a brush, kept my shoes looking new and lasting a long time. 

To this day I have been an avid shoe polisher. My trusty Clark's have since been replaced by leather boots and when I pull them out each winter, I make sure to give them a polish. 

This past winter I ran out of my old store bought polish. No big deal because, shoe polish is easy to make at home. 

For my shoe polish, I use two ingredients; beeswax and olive oil. The beeswax adds protection, useful with frequent rain. Olive oil will condition the leather while adding some shine. 

I use beeswax from Melbourne City Rooftop Honey. They have bee hives located on the rooftops of Melbourne's buildings, in an effort to bring more honey bees back to the city. Companies and individuals can adopt or sponsor a hive, then collect the honey for use or is sold on. I purchased my block of beeswax from Melbournalia. It's wrapped in paper and comes in a calico bag.

1 tablespoon grated beeswax
5 tablespoons olive oil
Glass jar

To make
Combine the grated beeswax and olive oil in a double boiler over a low heat. As the beeswax begins to melt, stir the mixture thoroughly. Pour into a glass jar

How to use
With a clean cloth, rub the shoe polish across the shoe, in circular motions. Let the shoe polish sit on the show for fifteen minutes. Then wipe off any excess. If you have a shoe polish brush, move it across the shoe. This can be kept for up to two years.

Below, you can see the boot on the right has been polished.

Make your own plastic free zero waste shoe polish

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