How To Recycle Your Menstrual Cup
The majority of menstruators who make the jump to using a menstrual cup do it for one main reason: the sustainability of the product (no more countless disposable pads and tampons) as a step toward a waste-reduced lifestyle. And it's, in fact, a huge step: with proper care, a menstrual cup can last up to ten years!
But what happens to your menstrual cup when you don't use it anymore? And how to dispose of it in a sustainable way?
Most menstrual cups are made from medical-grade silicone. There are two important characteristics to know about medical-grade silicone:
It's an inert low-impact material: Which means that it doesn't unleash toxins. So, if a silicone product ends up in nature, it is will break down into small particles that are harmless to the environment but it would need many decades...
It's not biodegradable: which means that it can't be broken down by living organisms to the point where it can be reincorporated into nature again
That means that throwing your menstrual cup in a compost pile is not an option! But it doesn't mean that it can't be recycled.
While there is nothing about silicone chemically that would prevent it from being recycled, curbside recycling programs do not always accept it, and it can be difficult sometimes to find a silicone recycler to accept post-consumer products.
Special companies that specialize in silicone recycling often only recycle in scales and quantities suitable for companies, but not for the average menstrual cup user, who wants to get rid of one or two cups.
Here are our recommendations to dispose of your menstrual cup sustainably:
1) Ask your city's recycling facility
Chances are, your local recycling facility will know what to do with medical-grade silicone. Cities in Europe usually burn their waste to create energy from the heat it produces.
One point to note, burning silicone is actually not as bad as you may think. While it produces a small amount of CO2, it turns silicone into Silicon dioxide which is not harmful as it is basically sand/glass (which you can compost). Some menstrual cup brands even recommend burning your menstrual cup yourself. It's a viable option although not the safest one. (Please use precautions if you choose to do so!)
2) Ask your local pharmacy or hospital
Many medical devices are made from medical-grade silicone and will eventually need recycling or disposing of. Check with your local pharmacy or hospital how they recycle their devices and ask if you can piggyback on their solution.
3) What about home recycling?
There are many DIY tutorials on the internet to give your menstrual cup a second life. Some creative ideas we've seen involve keychains, Christmas ornament, stress ball, little pot, self-watering for gardening, or even a "lid for shower beer"...
Have some more crazy ideas? Let us know how you would recycle your menstrual cup and we'll add it to the list!
4) Building our own recycling program
Inspired by some sex toys brands who offer special recycling programs (most sex toys are made from medical-grade silicone), we're currently evaluating how we can build our own program in both a user-friendly way (where you'll just have to ship us back your menstrual cup) and a sustainable way (there are some important logistics that may net the program a negative carbon footprint...). We'll keep you updated on that!
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