One of ASLMU’s upcoming initiatives includes placing free pads and tampons in certain bathrooms around campus. While lessening period costs and stressors for students is both helpful and important, adding more disposable products to a campus that cares about environmentalism is counterproductive to environmental efforts. ASLMU’s initiative should address both period problems and environmental issues by turning its main focus toward reusable period products — specifically, menstrual cups.
Pads and tampons are great for emergencies and I fully support ASLMU adding them to school bathrooms. However, increasing the availability of single-use period products will encourage students to use disposables rather than investing in sustainable period solutions like cups. To combat this, ASLMU should also offer cups and encourage students to use the pads and tampons only for emergencies.
Because pads and tampons end up as plastic waste, their impact when it comes to pollution is massive. Someone who menstruates will use between 5,000 and 15,000 pads and tampons in their lifetime, according to National Geographic.
By offering students menstrual cups, ASLMU would make a significant difference in allowing periods to be both affordable and sustainable. The impact would last well after students’ time at the University if they continued to use their cups.
Lara Gonçalves, a senior theatre arts and studio arts double major, hopes the stigma around menstrual cups will begin to lessen. While understanding some students are “scared” or “confused” by the product, she believes cups are only a small step away from tampons. “If you’re comfortable with a tampon, the cup is not far from it and it lasts so much longer,” she said. “Plus, you’re not constantly buying synthetic products which are not only bad for you but also the environment.”
Initially, providing menstrual cups to students will cost ASLMU more money than pads or tampons. However, it is a cheaper solution long-term.
A high-end menstrual cup like Lunette and 200 Tampax tampons each cost around $40. According to the Huffington Post, an average period cycle requires 20 tampons, so 200 tampons would last an average person who menstruates only 10 period cycles.
At this rate, a menstrual cup would pay itself off after 10 period cycles and would ultimately be a more cost-effective choice for ASLMU. If LMU were to fully fund students’ period costs, it would only take two semesters for menstrual cups to become the more affordable option.
In addition to being more cost-effective and environmentally friendly than tampons or pads, menstrual cups are—in many ways—more convenient. Cups eliminate the need to pack several pads or tampons to get through the day. Furthermore, large menstrual cup models can hold up to 30 mL of liquid, according to Vice. In comparison, the average tampon can absorb only 5 mL of liquid, according to the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research. Menstrual cups also need to be emptied much less frequently than tampons— every 12 hours versus every four to eight hours for tampons.
Regardless, period products need to be available to students, and if not menstrual cups, pads and tampons are better than nothing.
“I commend ASLMU for taking this first step,” said Alice Tiffany, a senior environmental studies major and president of ECO Students. “Ultimately, I think that pads and tampons are a crucial first step, and providing reusable menstrual cups would be a cool and environmentally conscious next step.”
ASLMU has the ability to do more, and it is in everyone’s best interest to move toward a reusable and sustainable world. While they are doing great things by adding period products to campus, by offering sustainable period products, ASLMU could address larger issues as well.
This is the opinion of Jordan Boaz, a sophomore women's and gender studies major from Denver, Colorado. Tweet comments @LALoyolan or email firstname.lastname@example.org.