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I Switched to a Menstrual Cup and Here is What Happened

Natural Living, HealthAmanda Walter | Maple Alps30 Comments

Word of caution: if you are squeamish, you may want to skip this post. I went back and forth with writing this post but finally decided to. With Earth Day this last weekend, it turned out to be pretty much perfect timing, even though I didn't intend it that way. I'm not one to talk to the world about traditionally private issues, but my life has changed so drastically, that I can't keep silent! This is just one post that I plan on writing about this topic, so stay tuned! By the way, there are affiliate links used in this post, but know I only suggest products I've tried and love!

As you know, I'm constantly looking for ways to save money, to create less waste, and to eliminate as many toxins from my lifestyle as I can. Feminine hygiene was never something I thought to even consider, but it turns out I was wrong, and I'm okay with admitting that to the world. 

First off, I had no idea that there were so many potentially harmful chemicals used in the manufacturing of pads and tampons. Chemicals are used to bleach the product white, and even aid with absorption. Of course, there natural, chlorine-free and 100% cotton products available, as well as cloth options, but my next concerns were cost and also waste production.

According to a quick Google search, most women use a lifetime estimate of 11,000 pads or tampons! That is a lot of trash! If you think that you are just one person, think about the billions of females on earth who each menstruate for about 40 years of their lives...that sure adds up to hundreds of pounds of disposable products in landfills all over the world. These products also contain plastics that do not break down very easily if at all.

I Switched to a Menstrual Cup and Here is What Happened | www.maplealps.com

I toyed with the idea of a feminie hygiene cup for over a year before taking the plunge. I could not get my head around a cup going in places the sun doesn't shine (sorry). I went back and forth, watched countless Youtube videos (the ones where they put the cup in a glass tube, haha!) and read a plethora of articles about all things menstrual cups.  I actually think I informed myself a little toooooo much, because this went on for so long. I even tried other eco ways that didn't involve the silicone goodness (more on those experiences later!!) Finally, I just decided it was time to jump in with both feet. I walked into a drugstore with the sole purpose of buying one of those silicone babies (upon reflection, I'm not sure why I didn't just get one online...), found my size (there is a pre-baby and post baby option), put down my money, and walked right out.

I didn't expect to love it right away, but I did. While there definitely was a learning curve, I stuck it out, stayed persistent, and it paid off. After just one cycle of use, I was already convinced and [almost] looking forward to the following one. I never thought any sentiment even close to that would happen, but it did, and I was sold. 

 
Most women use a lifetime estimate of 11,000 pads or tampons! That is a lot of trash!
 

After a few months, my convictions stayed the same. I love how easy it is to use, how there are no risks for things such as Toxic Shock Syndrome, how there is no smell (!!!!!!!), and the fact that the trash can has not once been overflowing with waste.  

Diva Cup | www.maplealps.com
Diva Cup | www.maplealps.com

Some Things You Should Know:

 

There are many different brands of cups. I have personally only used Diva Cup, however, I really want to try some others. If you have no success with the first one, that's fine - pick another brand and try again! There are all sorts - including a collapsable one that fits right into your purse!

There is a learning curve. But don't give up! Give it at least 3 months before you completely throw it to the side.

Make sure you know how to dispose of your cup. Depending on the material your particular cup of choice, each manufacturer offers a suggested way of disposal. Diva Cup (made of healthcare grade non-absorbant silicone) suggests cutting up your cup before throwing it into the trash, while some cups are able to be recycled. The good news is that with proper use cups may last quite some time before you have to worry about that. 

Get ready to save money! While the cup was more money up front (and most cost between $20 and $40), it only took a few months before it paid for itself. Of course, it depends on what products you typically purchase, but eventually, it all evens out (and is it just me, or is the price for tampons and pads going up?!).

Some people say that cramps will go away with menstrual cup usage. I have not found this to be even remotely true :) 

Depending on your flow, you can keep the cup in for 12 hours - with no leakage risk! No more gross tampon string or diaper-feeling pad. I'm grossed out just thinking about it. This also is a tremendous help in my case as a teacher, since I can't leave every 4-8 hours to make changes in my life... Just saying. Confession: I've had mine in for 24 hours with not even a slight issue. Just depends!

You may still need a backup. Especially when you're still perfecting the art of the cup. You could still use a liner, or if you're like me and feel accomplishment in a low-to-no-waste week, something more eco-friendly like period underwear (more on that in another post). 

Menstrual cups are easy to find! I got mine at the drugstore, but you can get them pretty much anywhere - and they're cheapest online (Grab one from Amazon here). Bonus: they come with a cute carrying case for in-between cycles!

This is not a paid ad. I just love the cup that much! Of course, if you choose to use my link to purchase your own cup, I will get a few cents - but really, I just felt the need to share the wonderful thing that is the menstrual cup!

I Switched to a Menstrual Cup and Here is What Happened | www.maplealps.com

In Conclusion,

I have had an awesome experience with a menstrual cup: I feel better about having less waste production, I love knowing that there are no harmful chemicals leeching into my body, no risk of leaks and embarrassment and that I'm saving a whole lot of money! There are tons of reasons to switch to a menstrual cup!

 
 

What's your "green" way to deal with red times of the month? Let me know below! Any questions?


 
 
Why I switched to a menstrual cup | www.maplealps.com

Clean Up Your Budget This Spring

MoneyAmanda Walter | Maple Alps4 Comments

Of course, the title of this post is about cleaning up your budget, so it is assuming you have already have one, but if you don't have one and want to use your money intentionally, you definitely need a budget (post on that coming)! It's never too late to make one and never the wrong time of year to clean it up a little bit. 

Spring Clean Your Budget | www.maplealps.com
 

Evaluate your spending and make a list of your expenses.

Ideally you've been tracking all of your spending already, so take a look at your numbers. Make a list of your necessary expenses - the nonnegotiable ones that you can't change such as rent/mortgage and other bills. Assess your spending.

 

Clean Out Your Un-Needed Expenses and reorganize:

Maybe you can cut back on your gas and electricity consumption, or perhaps you decide that your monthly manicure isn't completely necessary. Maybe your life situation has changed since you last created your budget and you can cut back in different ways. Here are a few other ideas:

Make Your Own Lunch: Leftovers work great for this - make a little extra the night before and put it in a container for the next day right away. Not into leftovers? Make a fresh salad or a sandwich - or something completely complicated, but fresh!

Skip the Daily Coffee Shop Visit: While your daily visits for coffee won't make you broke, you can save hundreds of dollars a year by making your own! Buy a reusable coffee mug that keeps your beverage of choice hot (or cold) for a long period of time. I make myself some herbal tea every morning before heading off to work, and my mug is a permanent fixture on my desk. If it’s not there, I have very concerned students who ask if I had a rough morning…

Quit a Subscription: Whether it’s Netflix, a gym membership, or a magazine, you may want to reevaluate the value of some of your subscriptions.

Start to Meal Plan: Save on your grocery bill by meal planning and shopping what you already have in your fridge and pantry. Save money AND keep food from spoiling!

Related: Cut Down on your Grocery Bill Without Cutting Back on Food

 

Make Goals

Now that you have cleaned up your expenses and hopefully have some left over, go ahead and start thinking about what your goals are! Maybe you can set aside that extra cash to save up for something you really want or need, or pay off a large chunk of debt you have.

 

 

Did you add your budget to your Spring Cleaning list? It's never too late!


 

Poor Man's Lentil Soup

RecipesAmanda Walter | Maple Alps22 Comments

It was one of those months where we needed to get creative with what was in our pantry. It happens a few times a year where what we have needs to stretch out as long as possible - not necessarily always because we're short on cash, but especially when we have a new goal (like a trip or a larger purchase) that we want to aim toward. There are also times where we feel it a good idea to "clean out" our pantry by making sure we eat what we have to avoid spoil.

Usually, we purpose to not spend a penny during these times, relying on canned and frozen vegetables to accompany our other staples, but this time around, we splurged and were able to score some inexpensive, and fresh produce at the farmer's market!

Poor Man's Lentil Soup | www.maplealps.com

I love soup and have never associated it with not having money, so it's always a welcome dish to me. However, it is also one of those things my husband does not anticipate to fill him long enough, so I always purpose to make it hearty. I, however, enjoy more brothy soups, so this was a great in-between. The lentils fill us, but the broth is so yummy, and perfect for some bread to soak up. 

The fresh kale makes it even more enjoyable - I love the texture and colour that this soup has; the bright oranges and greens! 

Poor Man's Lentil Soup | www.maplealps.com

This soup is not only extremely inexpensive to make - it is also flexible (use beans or potaoes or whatever you have in the pantry/fridge instead of lentils) and amazingly easy to make. 

Poor Man's Lentil Soup

What you need:

  • 1 TBSP olive oil

  • 1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped

  • 1 stalk celery roughly chopped

  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

  • 3 TBSP homemade vegan chicken-style seasoning

  • 2 tsp salt

  • sea salt to taste

  • 1/2 cup dried lentils

  • 4 cups water

  • 4 cups vegetable stock

  • 1/2 bunch of kale, roughly chopped

  • Your favourite vegan sausage (optional)

What to do:

1. Cook carrot, celery and onion with 2 tsp salt in olive oil in a heavy stock pot or dutch oven

2. Add vegetable stock, water, garlic, seasoning and lentils

3. Simmer for about 25 minutes, until the lentils are cooked

4. Add kale and allow to turn a deep green and wilt a bit before stirring into the soup.

5. Adjust seasonings to your liking. Serve hot!

(good in the fridge for 4 days)

 

What are some of your go-to meals when cleaning out your pantry? 


 

12 Necessities We Are Intentional About Spending Money On

MoneyAmanda Walter | Maple Alps24 Comments

The biggest discussion in our house at the moment is definitely the topic of my student loans. It’s a struggle I don’t even want to think about, but here I am, pouring out my heart and soul on the internet. Go figure.

You see, when I went to school, no one ever told me that student loans were not a good idea for me to get involved with. The only thing we were ever warned about in school were credit cards and bounced cheques, so I always made sure to stay on top of those. However, no one ever showed me math or gave me any reason to be wary of student loans. There are definitely some cases in which these types of loans are beneficial, but in my case, they were not. If I could do it over, I would do things differently, but all I can do now is buckle down and conquer these loans and become debt-free as soon as possible. We have come up with a long-term plan for getting rid of them which requires a bit of sacrifice now but will benefit us in the future. 

I do use the word sacrifice loosely. We are not starving or wearing clothes ridden with holes. We are, however, very mindful of what we spend money on, and cut costs when we can. Here are 12 things we are intentional about when it comes to spending money

cessities We Are Intentional About Spending Money On | www.maplealps.com

Eating 

Save money by meal planning and reduce the amount you eat out. I went a long time without ever eating out, and even though it cost me socially, my bank account was thankful. I’m okay with eating out once in a while now but avoid it when possible. Pack a lunch for work. Make your own bread and other staples. Find a cheaper grocery store. Use Ibotta or other rebate and coupon apps. There are many ways to save on groceries.

Utilities

Be mindful about the utilities you use. Do you really need every light in the house on when you’re only in one room? Should you really keep the tap going as you’re brushing your teeth? Are 20 minutes in the shower completely necessary? When is washing just one shirt in the washing machine a good idea? Can clothes be hung to dry? Think about these things and be creative when saving on utilities. We make it a game every month to see if we can get utility bills lower!

Clothing

I have so much to say about this topic but I’ll leave you just with ideas to save like I promised! While basic clothing is a definite necessity, I found myself with much more than I needed (or could wear!). Now that I've purged and have what I need and love wearing, I don't feel the urge to buy more. Try selling newer clothes in good condition that you no longer wear or look at. When you have an event or a theme party to go to, before shelling out extra cash for items you’ll likely only wear once, try being creative with what you already have. You could also borrow something from a friend! I’ve been known to wear things until they have holes...you do you. If you get totally bored with the clothes you have, why not try having a clothing swap with some friends? Chances are they have some great pieces to exchange.

Toiletries

Since learning about the harmful substances in toothpaste and many other toiletry items, I have taken to making a lot of our products. This has not only reduced the chemicals in our home, it has also proven to be much more affordable! Check out some of my natural living posts here. 

Fuel

Carpool, combine trips and get a fuel-saving car. This has drastically saved our fuel costs and the extra money goes right into loan repayments.

Phone Bill

Reevaluate your phone bill and find a cheaper one that works. Research pays off - especially when you're brutally honest with yourself about your phone usage. You would be surprised what kinds of deals are out there! 

Credit Cards

Do not to spend what you don’t have. Many credit cards have interest rates of 18% or higher, which is a lot! Pay your credit card off in full every month, or don’t use it at all. Because we get cash back on our credit card, we primarily use it. However, after over one year of use, we have never paid interest because we pay it in full every month. Free money? Yes, please! Do what works for you, but avoid credit card interest like the plague.

10 Every-Day Things You Can Start Saving On Today! | www.maplealps.com

Bank Statements

Check and balance your bank statements monthly to make sure that every purchase was made by you or whoever has access to your account.  Unfortunately, fraudulent purchases occur. This has happened to me; foreign purchases were made with my credit or debit card and I was able to get money back that I never spent in the first place. I would have never noticed, had I not been checking my account regularly.

ATM Charges

Don’t ever pay for these. Just, please don’t. Not necessary.

Home Decor

A fresh paint of coat or removable decals go a long way in making your home feel new. Instead of buying expensive furniture or decorations to add to your dusting pile, DIY some projects or put out some fresh flowers and candles. There are inexpensive ways to decorate your house to your liking and personally, I think less is more!

Hobbies

I know it's weird I consider hobbies as a necessity...but, everyone has their thing. It’s hard when one has expensive hobbies. I sure do. If your hobby requires supplies, try using everything in your stockpile before getting something new. The best is when your hobby can make you money. Sell handcrafted goods or stock photography. You could even create a course or blog to teach others. Your hobby can serve you!

Cable/Subscription Costs

Re-evaluate what is important to you; this is a huge part of living intentionally. We choose not to have a TV in our house, so naturally, we do not have cable or satellite to pay for.  Since we are also very particular with what we choose to spend our time watching, renting a movie on iTunes every once in a while is much cheaper for us than paying for a Netflix or Hulu subscription.

 

What are some of the ways you save money on necessities? We would LOVE to read about them! Leave a comment with your tips - we read every single one!


 
 

Women of Intention Week Twelve: Finances

Women of Intention, MoneyAmanda Walter | Maple Alps2 Comments

Welcome to week twelve of the series, Women of Intention! So glad you've decided to stop by! For more information, and a list of topics, visit our introduction post HERE

Finances: Maple Alps! Women Of Intention #WomenOfIntention16

THIS WEEK'S INTENTIONAL WOMAN:

Today, we are going to meet Deb from Saving the Crumbs, an amazingly practical and informative blog written by her and her husband. They talk about finances, economy, frugality, efficiency...you name it!

Because of this, I think it quite appropriate that Deb will be sharing with us about intentionality when it comes to finances today! After reading this post, be sure to check out Saving the Crumbs and share this post :)

Find Deb on TwitterFacebook, and Google+


Briefly tell us a bit about yourself: What are your passions, work and interests?

Hi! I’m Deb, and for the last year I have had the privilege of being a stay-at-home mom with my little girl. So my greatest interest and responsibility right now is the enormous task of molding her little heart and character to love what is pure and to desire to do what’s right. I’m realizing this is the most challenging job I’ve ever embarked upon!

Besides being a mom, being economical and living simply are probably some of my greatest passions and tend to trickle into just about every aspect of my life. So my family’s interests usually revolve around our little garden, nature, ministry, and saving money. In fact, we love good deals and being thrifty so much that a few years ago, my husband and I started a personal finance blog called SavingTheCrumbs.com where we share things like eating for less than $60 a month and paying off our house in 2 years. We just share what we’ve done and hope that it can benefit other people who might be needing encouragement or ideas in this area.

 

Why would you say approaching finances intentionally is important, and how can one practically begin doing so?

It’s true that money isn’t everything in life, but money does affect just about everything in life. Ultimately, our material possessions, our families, our relationships, and even our spiritual walk can be positively or negatively affected by how we approach finances. The problem is that it’s so easy to like expensive toys, brand name clothes, and fancy vacations -  and it’s easy to want them now even if we don’t have the money for it. But it takes very intentional effort to see past our present wants to our future needs, find joy in the simple things surrounding us, and have confidence making these decisions even among our peers.

Probably the most important first step is to find out where all your money is going. It’s amazing how it seems to just disappear without us even realizing we gave it away! But it has certainly gone somewhere, and your first job is to trace down every penny - groceries, utilities, cellphone bill, stopping by Taco Bell on the way home, restocking toilet paper, Amazon purchases, even that soda from the vending machine. Once it’s all down on paper, you might be pretty shocked where those pennies have been rolling off to and turning into pretty big bills! The necessary game plan is usually fairly obvious at that point.

How does your intentionality with finances affect the other areas of your life?

Before we had our daughter, both my husband and I worked. We didn’t earn a lot, but we minimized our lifestyle enough to live on just one salary and put the other into savings. So when our daughter arrived, we were already accustomed to a one-income lifestyle. I was able to quit my job and become a fulltime mom. What a privilege and blessing it has been! I know not everyone is in the position to do that, but it definitely wouldn’t have been possible for us if we hadn’t been intentional with our financial decisions ahead of time.

In addition, because we choose to live fairly frugally, my husband is able to work for a ministry doing what he really enjoys and has a passion for. He doesn’t feel like he has to get a high paying job doing work he may not enjoy in order to sustain an inflated lifestyle. Having these options is part of the “financial freedom” that we strive for.

What is one piece of advice you would give to encourage someone who is struggling with intentionality in the area of finances?

Be willing to look past the present. Take a visit to your future self 5, 10, or 20 years from now. What does it look like? Owning your own home, traveling the world, being a missionary, being a stay-at-home mom? Once you have a clear picture in your mind, decide how you will get there. Then start being intentional now to take steps along the paths that lead toward your goals.


What about you? Were you inspired by this post? Are you intentional when it comes to your finances? Why don't you tell us about it in the comments, and connect with us on social media?

(Don't forget to use the hashtag #WomenOfIntention16 so no one misses it!)