I was graced with my first period in 7th grade. It arrived unexpectedly during the end of the school day. I put some toilet paper in my underwear and rushed home. Once I got there, I found my mother’s stash of tampons, read the instructions and put one in. Simple as that.
Eight years worth of tampons later, I found out there was another option.
I had a friend in college that was very conscious of the environment and healthy living. She first told me about the menstrual cup in 2005. I have to admit the first thing that intrigued me was the amount of money I would save. How many tampons would I have to buy in 10 years? 1,440= $400. How many menstrual cups? 1= $30. Saving me $370! As a broke college student, it was looking pretty good.
After using the cup for a few cycles, (it took some getting use to) I fell in love. The process was so simple. Insert. Wait eight hours. Remove. Rinse. Repeat. I became a menstrual cup activist, telling my other friends and successfully converting most of them to this new world of the sustainable period! I believe the menstrual cup was the doorway to my consciousness becoming aware of how my personal actions were causing harm to the earth and my fellow humans.
When I moved to India, the cup was my savior. Sharing an outside bathroom with four other households, the community lake where everyone usually threw their trash and no public bathrooms was not a place I wanted to be using disposable menstrual products. I would find used disposable pads along the railway line and floating in the lake and sometimes in the mouth of a street dog. I was happy that I never had to try and conceal my cup or find an appropriate way to dispose of it.
The idea for Shomota came after many conversations with women in my community and I quickly found out that a large percentage of Indian women are very uncomfortable with the idea of inserting a cup. I had never tried a reusable cloth pad, but that seemed like the only eco-friendly option they were willing to try.
So, I decided to sew some cloth pads to try for myself and a few to give away to friends. At first, it felt like a chore to change my pad and wash it. When washing meant a bucket of water, some laundry power and my hands, but I got used to it. I noticed after a few cycles of using cloth pads my cramps began to lessen and I could tell how much I was actually bleeding throughout the day. I became more in tuned and felt a deeper connection with my body.
Today I’m still a fan of the menstrual cup, especially when traveling, but my go to is cloth pads.