The female hygiene product industry accounts for $35.4 billion in business worldwide each year, according to Global Industry Analysts. Increasingly, new companies founded and led by women are offering cost-effective and environmentally friendly alternatives to the traditional brands that have long controlled the female hygiene product market. Among the upstarts are companies such as Thinx and Lunette, Lunapads, DivaCups, GladRags, and Dear Kate and Flex, which sell menstrual cups, reusable period underwear, cloth pads and a variety of other products that can include menstrual-cup cleansers, carrying cases for fresh and used pads, and pad soaking containers.
“The average woman spends $150-$300 a year on feminine hygiene disposables, and one DivaCup retails for around $40, and women only need to replace that annually, so you do the math,” explained Carinne Chambers, vice president and co-founder of DivaCup. “It’s definitely cost-saving compared to the disposable products. The average woman menstruates for over 30 years of her life, so when you add that up, that’s a lot of cost savings, not to mention the amount of waste in landfills.”
Adding to the cost in the U.S. is the so-called “tampon tax” on female hygiene products. Only 10 states didn’t tax women’s hygiene products in 2015 — of those states, five didn’t have any sales tax at all. In 2016, New York, Connecticut, and Illinois all ended their taxes on tampons and similar products.
Homemade menstrual pads are increasingly a viable option as well, added Emily Varnam, a 27-year-old doula who said that she used to spend $10 on a box of tampons each month. For now, she uses reusable products that cost her about $50 in total. But in the future, she hopes to make her own menstrual pads and lead workshops to teach other women how to do so as well.
“I can’t imagine using tampons or something disposable now, because it’s so expensive and so bad for the earth,” said Varnum. “Once I had this relationship with my blood where this isn’t gross, it makes me feel better and I’m allowed to be a woman.”
Read the full story at USA Today.