Menstruation is a natural and healthy part of life, and a number of cultures choose to celebrate the moment when a girl experiences her first period. In these cultures, the monthly cycle is honoured as a time of reflection and a source of women’s strength.
Despite a growing awareness of this in the developed world, monthly periods still tend to be a taboo subject, traditionally shrouded in secrecy and awkwardness.There is also the question of the products we use – or, rather, are sold – which have a massive impact on the environment, and can affect our health.
In the UK alone, we buy more than 3 billion items of menstrual products every year, spending £349 million in 2010 on sanitary and ‘feminine hygiene’ products.
What’s more, disposable panty liners used between periods are increasing the size of the market, with sales of £56 million in 2010.
Meanwhile, feminine hygiene wipes have seen the biggest growth,with sales of £4.8m in 2010.
An average woman throws away an astonishing 125 to 150kg of tampons, pads and applicators in her lifetime.
Negativity surrounding periods has been capitalised upon to such an extent that suppressing menstruation is being marketed as if the normal menstrual cycle itself were the problem. By way of hormonal contraceptive medication, it is possible to reduce the number of periods to just four a year.
Little, if anything, is known about the effects of this manipulation on women’s bodies. The pills have been targeted at younger women, focusing on the negative aspects of menstruation and highlighting none of the positive.
Historic experience of manipulation of women’s menstrual cycles and hormones resulting in adverse health effects should stand as a warning. Menstruation affects the entire endocrine system, as well as cardiovascular health and bone strength. The long-term health implications of manipulating natural hormone levels in this way remain to be seen.
Despite being white, menstrual products are NOT sterile. They do not have to be, as they are not classified as medical devices in Europe. Sanitary towels and tampons come under the EU directive on general product safety although it does not specifically mention them. In the UK, an industry-led initiative called the Code of Practice for Tampons means that the sanitary protection industry polices itself.
The new EU chemicals legislation which entered into force in June 2007 will impact on the chemicals used in the manufacture of sanitary products. Certain chemicals will be more stringently regulated or banned for use in certain consumer products.
Furthermore, manufacturers are not required to list all the ingredients and materials used in sanitary towels and tampons on the side of packs to enable women as consumers to make an informed choice about their menstrual wear.
Disposable sanitary towels and panty liners are also made mostly from wood pulp, bleached from its natural brown colour. Tampons are made from either cotton, or a mixture of cotton and rayon. Use of cotton raises issues of land and water usage, fair trade, pesticide use, and genetic modification.
The chlorine bleaching of pulp produces dioxins, a known human carcinogen, and highly toxic environmental pollutants with serious health implications. WEN’s first campaign persuaded manufacturers to change the bleaching method; they now use either chlorine dioxide or hydrogen peroxide, which produces less dioxin.
However, there are currently no controls or testing on the levels of dioxins in tampons and sanitary towels.While chlorine-free bleaching processes are available, most wood-pulp manufacturers only use elemental- chlorine-free bleaching processes, which still use chlorine dioxide as a bleaching agent, and therefore still produce dioxin.
TSS has been linked to the use of super-absorbent and newer, less absorbent tampons made of viscose rayon, both with and without cotton. A study of 20 tampon varieties concluded that 100% cotton tampons did not produce the dangerous TSS toxin from the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus, while tampons with rayon did.
TSS remains a concern in connection with tampon usage.
Moon Times pads are an alternative to ‘disposable’ sanitary products and are ideal gift for: young women new to their menses new mothers who need soft cloth against their delicate tissue after giving birth women who suffer from slight incontinence.
Moon Times are made with organic cotton flannelette and fair trade organic cotton. Inserts are available in organic cotton, hemp and towelling for extra absorbency. Flannelette is both soft and absorbent and used as the top layer- next to your skin. You put an ‘insert’ (a small liner) inside the pocket of the pad (or a few if you are bleeding heavily) choosing cotton, hemp or towelling inserts. Pads have wings so they are very secure! There are a few colour themes- plain organic (white or dyed colours), dark colours** and patterned* (*prints of flowers, butterflies, animal prints, rabbits, teddies etc; dependant on what is available) ** The top fabric on the dark, patterned flannelette and coloured pads are not organic.
When you first use Moon Times it may seem as if your flow is heavier or even lighter than usual- this is natural- I believe that some of the chemicals used in other sanitary products can affect the amount we bleed-also we may not be used to seeing our blood that closely! We also supply other ‘moon time’ products; moon sponges & cups, herbal teas, Women’s Wisdom Booklets and much more.
Our Mission Statement:
At Moon Times®: We empower people in body appreciation, environmental awareness and self-respect through the use of eco menstrual products.
We believe a healthy appreciation of our bodies and ourselves can be learnt through menstruation.
We believe when people are aware of the benefits of a sustainable, healthy, economically viable and comfortable alternative, they appreciate the contribution they can make by choosing alternative menstrual products.
We also believe people deeply appreciate learning about alternative and positive ways to think about their bodies.