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Menstrual cups can last between 5 to 10 years depending on the brand and care in use. There are many different brands and designs. E.g. Diva cups only last about the average of 5 years, while Mooncup advertises 10 years with proper care.

I was wondering if there was a lot of waste produced in the process of making them (compared to pads and tampons) that might outweigh the benefits of using them.

Seems like a no brainer. I was wondering if anyone had actually done the analysis on the difference in total waste, throughout the product life cycle of each product type. Eg cup vs pad vs tampon. Let's use an average life span of 5 years per cup.

Thanks in advance!

  • 3
    May I suggest that you change your question to use the term "menstrual cup" rather than a specific brand? That would make it more likely that someone will contribute some relevant information, especially since most brands offer a similar product with a similar life span. – stragu Apr 14 '18 at 12:18
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Yes, using a menstrual cup (such as DivaCup) is much better for the environment.

I located a thesis paper written by a student at Dalhousie University for her BSc in Environmental Science and Gender and Women Studies which compares the financial and environmental costs of various menstrual products. Here's the relevant part of the abstract:

The environmental externalities of product raw materials show that for a temporal scale of one unit and one cycle or longer, the products with the least environmental effect are the tampon without applicator and the reusable menstrual cup respectively.

And here are some of the quantitative results:

  • It takes as much fossil fuel to produce one DivaCup as about 8 tampons.
  • The break-even point in fossil fuel usage between generic tampons and the DivaCup is about one cycle.
  • The DivaCup uses about 93% less fossil fuel over the course of one year.
  • Similar results are observed for global warming potential, acidification, and eutrophication.

An article in CHOICE came to the same conclusion:

It's impossible to deny the profound environmental reasons for switching to the reusable cups and underpants. There's also a clear cost benefit over a number of years of use for the menstrual cup.

Using a menstrual cup (such as a DivaCup) for even just a couple months is an improvement over tampons and other products. If the DivaCup is consistently used over its entire lifecycle, the difference in environmental impact is huge.

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I would say it depends.

For most brands the answer will be a yes. But there are counterfeit products and rougue or not so great brands/manufacturers with malintents.

I would love to believe that all brands/manufacturers are "environmental"/"green" but as long as you can make money out of things there will always be crooked or corrupted companies not caring about anything but money which could mean tremendous stress on the environment due to their carelessness in different areas.

Thankfully most brands seem to be wanting to do good (been doing some research on the subject minmenskopp.se) but a tip for whoever reads this - check where the menstrual cup you're planning on buying is actually made.

  • Welcome to Sustainable Living! Thank you for your answer. Can you give an example of a menstrual cup that is worse compared to pads or tampons? Also please indicate your affiliation with the organization behind the link you supplied. Are you just a happy user, or do you own that site? – THelper Jan 14 at 9:00
  • I don't have a concrete example but I've read on one or more (don't remember exactly how many) of the menstrual cup makes that as a consumer you should watch out for counterfeit products. Basically their products and/or brands have been counterfeited by companies with not so great reputation or are only in the business just to make money. I don't know of any real case but I do believe the original brands when they are warning their customers about it because I've seen and heard about it in other industries and most people already know this anyways so. – PussInBoots Jan 20 at 18:46
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    And yes, I am affiliated with minmenskopp.se trying to help women make the right menstrual cup choice. – PussInBoots Jan 20 at 18:48

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