Menstrual cups, bags for life, and metal straws- just some of the ways I’m ridding single-use products from my life

Our planet is dying. The current concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the highest it has been in human history. Global sea levels are rising 0.13 inches a year. Wildlife populations have fallen by more than two-thirds. I was always, somewhat, aware of the effect that we were having on our earth, but after listening to global activists, such as Greta Thunberg and David Attenborough, I was motivated to begin making small changes in my life to lessen my use of single-use products.

Metal straws

I remember when the war on plastic straws begun. It was my second year at university and Wetherspoons had announced that they were going to replace all of their plastic straws with paper alternatives. Now, two years later, and it is illegal for businesses to provide customers with plastic straws and stirrers. Despite attempts to prevent the use of plastic straws, 8.3 BILLION straws still pollute the world’s beaches. 

I would never normally drink with a straw at home. That being said, when me and my housemates would host house parties, or I didn’t want to freeze my teeth off by knocking them against ice, I would use a straw. Once we realised how disastrous using plastic straws were, me and my housemates invested in some metal alternatives. A pack of 10, for £5.99. That was 2 years ago, and we have never touched a plastic straw again. 

Metal straws, if taken care of appropriately, are incredibly durable.

Bag for life

Since the 5p charge for single-use plastic bags came into effect in 2015 there has been an 83% reduction in plastic bag usage. Using two bags for life rather than 20 plastic bags became the new norm. Despite a study from Greenpeace revealing that the carbon footprint of a bag for life is higher than its single-use counterpart, I am still dedicated to using mine. A bag for life will last you multiple trips to the shops, a single-use bag will last you one, sometimes not even. 

1 bag for life can last up to 4 years.

Reusable cotton pads

I never really thought about my cotton pad usage as being non-environmentally friendly. I used to happily use them twice a day as part of my daily skincare routine. That was until I found out that non-organic cotton farming uses almost a quarter of all the world’s insecticides and 10% of pesticides, which causes major environmental pollution. Not to mention that cotton takes between one to five months to decompose. This may not sound like a lot, but I was using roughly 1,680 cotton pads a year. Now, I have 5 reusable cotton pads, and a laundry bag to wash them in, that will last me a lot longer than just one use.

Most reusable cotton pads can be washed in the washing machine with your usual laundry.

Menstrual cup 

Menstrual products, along with their packaging, generate more than 200,000 tonnes of waste per year. It can take up to 500 years for these products to degrade.

For the past year or so I was constantly seeing people on my Instagram talking about menstrual cups. Be it influencers, regular folk, or adverts, it seemed like everyone had one. As I began researching them, I realised that I wanted one too. I realised that they wouldn’t just save the environment, but that they would save me money too. On average, over 2 years women use 528 pads or tampons. A menstrual cup will last AT LEAST 2 years. Given how expensive sanitary products are, that is a lot of saving. 

I was gifted my menstrual cup by a friend for my birthday and, honestly, it was one of the best gifts I received. The first time I used it, I was terrified. I thought it would hurt to insert, leave me shifting uncomfortably all day, and end in a blood bath when I tried to pull it out. The reality was that I didn’t feel a thing. It took me a few times to fold it and correctly insert it, and, granted, it was a slight blood bath the first few times I took it out, but I got the hang of it. Menstrual cups are easy to use, comfortable, and will save the environment as well as your bank account. I, honestly, would never go back to using single-use menstrual products again.

I use an OrganiCup but there are plenty of other menstrual cup brands to choose from.

Rechargeable sex toy 

I am a very strong believer in self-pleasure, especially for women. As soon as I turned 18 and moved to university, I bought my first sex toy- a battery-operated bullet vibrator. Since then, my collection has grown, as has my never-ending pile of batteries. 

At least once a year I treat myself to a new sex toy, and this year I wanted a cost-effective, high-powered one. There is nothing worse than being on the brink of the end, and all the pleasure stopping because the batteries have run out of juice. This was happening too often for my liking, so I decided to get a rechargeable toy. One I would never have to stick a battery in. It was after I bought, and obviously used, my new toy that I began thinking about how my previous battery usage had affected the environment. 

98% of the batteries that are bought in the UK are not recycled. When these batteries end up in landfills, they release mercury, lead, and cadmium into the environment. These gases cause soil contamination and water pollution that endangers both wildlife and humans. You can save the environment, and a spoiled orgasm, by buying a rechargeable sex toy.

Most sex toys are made from plastic, but you can get environmentally friendly made sex toys

I constantly want to adapt to help sustain our environment. We only have one planet, and we shouldn’t be trying to kill it.