For environment, economics and empowerment

Throughout her lifetime, a woman will use a minimum of 6,300 pads or tampons. That's approximately three pads or tampons per day, for approximately five days a month, 12 months per year...

Throughout her lifetime, a woman will use a minimum of 6,300 pads or tampons.

That’s approximately three pads or tampons per day, for approximately five days a month, 12 months per year, for the approximately 35 years a woman menstruates.

And that’s the minimum.

All women are different, but it’s likely most women will use more than 6,300 pads or tampons in a lifetime.

Now multiply that number by the Earth’s female population.

“For the environment, it’s huge,” said Ketsia Houde, the executive director for Les EssentiELLES. “We don’t need to use all these products that you have to throw in the garbage.”

Pads, especially, are plastic-based, just like diapers. They are not biodegradable.

“Plus, tampons, are full of chemicals that are really, really toxic for women, and they are only traces, but if you use them every month for 35 years, the traces may become more than traces,” Houde added.

Now, on top of that, add the financial costs.

Prices for pads and tampons across the territory vary.

This week, the cheapest tampons you could buy at the General Store in Dawson City were in a $5.29 box of 18. The cheapest pads were a pack of 18 for $4.59.

At the Tatchun General Store in Carmacks, the cheapest pads were a package of 36 for $9.96. The cheapest tampons were a box of 20 for $5.79.

In Old Crow, at the only store, the cheapest tampons were a box of 18 for $7.89 and a package of 18 pads were the cheapest at $7.59.

And finally, in Whitehorse, at Shoppers Drug Mart, the variety of pads in packages ranging from 50, to 32, to 28, to 14 cost between $8.99 and $3.49. The tampons, in packages of 40, to 26, to 18, ranged from $5.99 to $19.99.

So now, do the math.

If a Whitehorse woman uses a minimum of 6,300 pads or tampons in her life, she will spend an absolute minimum of

$1,132.74 on pads or $1,415.93 on tampons. At the other extreme, an Old Crow woman would spend $2,761.50 on tampons or $2,656.50 on pads.

That’s a lot of dough, for a lot of garbage.

But there are other options.

This Saturday, Les EssentiElles is staging its biennial workshop, teaching women how to make their own, reusable, feminine pads.

The movement for a more eco-friendly, affordable and healthy option for women has been spreading internationally for years.

It gained widespread and commercial success with the release of the “Diva Cup” or “Keeper,” both reusable, rubber cups – an idea that has existed for over 75 years.

Les EssentiELLES has been offering the three-hour course on homemade pads for five years.

It’s $5, all the materials are recycled and each woman walks away with as many pads as they can sew (usually around two or three).

The concept is easy: replace the toxic and perfumed plastic with cotton or flannel.

Then wash the cloth. Some women use water and some vinegar, others just wash them in the shower with the same soap they use on their bodies, said Houde.

Reusable pads are also not a new concept.

Houde started using the self-made pads in university 10 years ago and she still remembers her mother’s reaction when she told her about them.

Between rolling eyes and breathy sighs, Houde’s mother recounted how happy she and her girlfriends were when the disposable pads became available.

“Why do you do that?” her mother asked, lamenting about the days she and her own mother had to spend washing pads and baby diapers.

“You really need an environmental conscience to do this,” said Houde.

And while she is still greeted with contorted faces and gasps of “gross” when she tells other women about it, especially younger girls, for Houde, the reusable, cotton pads provided more solutions than problems.

Like many women, Houde was allergic to the plastics, perfumes and dyes contained in most brand-name pads and tampons.

“The doctors didn’t know what to do,” she said. “When I stopped using them and started using the cotton pads, all my problems disappeared.”

There are biodegradable and non-perfume brands of pads and tampons available, but they are usually twice the cost of regular pads and tampons, added Houde.

You don’t need to be an expert seamstress to make your own pads, said Houde, laughing at the sight of the first few she made – making them was the first time she had ever used a sewing machine.

And the workshop allows women to come together and talk about their experiences, she said.

For example, during the workshop, Houde always brings up how to approach the topic with boyfriends and roommates who share bathroom space.

“It’s sharing a way of doing things – a way of living,” she said. “It’s giving women another option to deal with their health.”

And there is a sense of empowerment that comes with it, said Houde.

“In the marketing industry it’s always about hiding,” she said, pointing out the constant competition to make the smallest, least noticeable pads and tampons so “no one has to know.”

“It’s ugly, it’s shameful, it’s all of that.

“Using a Diva Cup, for me, helped me really take control of my menstruation, my periods. Seeing that it’s fine, it’s clean, it’s just blood. There’s nothing bad there.

“It’s not dirty – that’s the big thing. And having to wash your pads you realize that.

“It’s not dirty, it’s just blood.”

The workshop will be held in French, from 1 to 4 p.m. this Saturday at the Centre de la Francophonie. But if you don’t understand French, keep your eyes open for upcoming, English workshops being offered at the Victoria Faulkner Women’s Shelter.

Les EssentiELLES will also be selling keepers and moon cups (like the Diva Cup) and pstyles (which allow women to pee standing up) as a fundraiser on Saturday as well.

Contact Roxanne Stasyszyn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Children’s performer Claire Ness poses for a photo for the upcoming annual Pivot Festival. “Claire Ness Morning” will be a kid-friendly performance streamed on the morning of Jan. 30. (Photo courtesy Erik Pinkerton Photography)
Pivot Festival provides ‘delight and light’ to a pandemic January

The festival runs Jan. 20 to 30 with virtual and physically distant events

The Boulevard of Hope was launched by the Yukon T1D Support Network and will be lit up throughout January. It is aimed at raising awareness about Yukoners living with Type 1 diabetes. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Boulevard of Hope sheds light on Type 1 diabetes

Organizers hope to make it an annual event

City of Whitehorse city council meeting in Whitehorse on Oct. 5, 2020. An updated council procedures bylaw was proposed at Whitehorse city council’s Jan. 18 meeting that would see a few changes to council meetings and how council handles certain matters like civil emergencies. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Whitehorse procedures bylaw comes forward

New measures proposed for how council could deal with emergencies

A Yukon survey querying transportation between communities has already seen hundreds of participants and is the latest review highlighting the territory’s gap in accessibility. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Multiple reports, survey decry lack of transportation between Yukon communities

A Community Travel survey is the latest in a slew of initiatives pointing to poor accessibility

Mobile vaccine team Team Balto practises vaccine clinic set-up and teardown at Vanier Catholic Secondary School. Mobile vaccine teams are heading out this week to the communities in order to begin Moderna vaccinations. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Mobile vaccine teams begin community vaccinations

“It’s an all-of-government approach”

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Mayor Dan Curtis listens to a councillor on the phone during a city council meeting in Whitehorse on April 14, 2020. Curtis announced Jan. 14 that he intends to seek nomination to be the Yukon Liberal candidate for Whitehorse Centre in the 2021 territorial election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Whitehorse mayor seeking nomination for territorial election

Whitehorse mayor Dan Curtis is preparing for a run in the upcoming… Continue reading

Gerard Redinger was charged under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> with failing to self-isolate and failing to transit through the Yukon in under 24 hours. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Man ticketed $1,150 at Wolf Creek campground for failing to self-isolate

Gerard Redinger signed a 24-hour transit declaration, ticketed 13 days later

Yukon Energy, Solvest Inc. and Chu Níikwän Development Corporation are calling on the city for a meeting to look at possibilities for separate tax rates or incentives for renewable energy projects. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Tax changes sought for Whitehorse energy projects

Delegates call for separate property tax category for renewable energy projects

Yukon University has added seven members to its board of governors in recent months. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New members named to Yukon U’s board of governors

Required number of board members now up to 17

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

Most Read