Plastic-Free for the Sea

July 13, 2016

“Head Instructions: Please do not put anything down the toilet that has not been passed from one end of a human to the other…This means NO tampons, bad dogs, cardboard, kittens, plastic, dreams, maxi pads, cell phones, or souls.” – Sea Dragon

While aboard the 72 foot sailing vessel, Sea Dragon, with 15 women for the next 15 days, this colourful note that hung above the “head” (also known as toilet for land dwellers) meant serious business! Backing up the “head” on a 15 day-long passage, island hopping through the Caribbean, was a sure way to make instant enemies fast.

Luckily, myself and these 15 other women were not just ordinary women….we were part of the eXXpedition team of female scientists, sailors, artists, moms, students, and journalists from all over the globe that had come together, united in passion, to save what we love: the sea! We were just one of several all-female crews that was helping Sea Dragon sail across every ocean in the world conducting plastic research in order to uncover the unseen and educate local communities about ways they can live plastic free for our sea! In short, we were a motley crew of Diva Cup wearing mermaids, and our “head” thanked us!

In preparation for the trip, I realised that I would be out at sea for 2-3 months before heading back home to San Diego to my own sanctuary,  a 28 ft sailboat called Mi Corazon. That’s 3 menstrual cycles worth of tampons! These are the moments when being a female traveller is a bother. I weighed my menstrual hygiene options:

Option 1: Pack a satchel full of a 3 month supply of tampons. P2220454 v2This option was problematic because waste disposal on a boat is a bit of an issue and second because I was on an expedition to rid the sea of plastic.

Option 2: Pack nothing, save space in my bag, and hope that the islands are stocked with the essentials that I would need when I need them. This option was very risky since feminine hygiene products are not always easy to come by in the Caribbean, especially in Cuba without a ration book.

Option 3: The DivaCup! I had never heard of menstrual cups until my girlfriend explained The DivaCup to me two months prior to my trip over a glass of wine and a cheese platter. I tried not to let my face reveal my instant reaction of “hell no! gross!” as she explained to me what it was in detail. A cup you put in your hoohaa, holding blood?! yuk!! But I guess a cotton tampon stuck up there is just as gross if not even more gross when you really think about it.

About a month before my trip to the Caribbean, I went on a surf trip in Baja with another girlfriend. As we walked along the beach picking up trash, we found that tampon applicators, along  with  plastic bottle caps and straws,  were among the most common plastic trash in our sacks. As women, we feel a special connection to mother earth, pachamama, and we have a persistent calling in our hearts to preserve her beauty. But yet in being women, living in a tampon culture, we also have this seemingly unavoidable plastic footprint that we turn a blind eye to once a month. That’s when it dawned on me: there was hope! The DivaCup! One reusable silicone cup that would not only save me money every month, but more importantly, it would save our seas from plastic applicator waste created from tampon use! Being a woman does not mean we necessarily have to have a larger plastic foot print than our male counterparts. We can truly live a plastic free life for the sea and live in harmony with Mother Nature.

P1300741 v2I have travelled and lived in remote places around the world, and in between my travels I live on a small 28 foot sailboat. All of the places I have travelled to, including life on my boat, can make dealing with my period a struggle. Yet my 3 month trip through the Caribbean was the first time that getting my period was not a hassle or an embarrassment. I have so many stories of trying to ask for tampons over the counter using hand gestures to replace the foreign words I couldn’t remember, or at home walking the dock stealthily with a baggy of used tampons, hoping I don’t run into a fellow boating neighbour red handed. These stories are now stories of the past. With The DivaCup always by my side, I’m ready to continue living my active life style of surfing, climbing, biking, and sailing string free! And most importantly, I have confidence that I am doing my part to save the playground I love by living plastic free for the sea!

 

 

insta hang ten v2More about Natalie Small.

Surfing, sailing, diving, open ocean swimming, kayaking, and even living aboard her 28 ft sailboat Mi Corazon docked in San Diego…. NATALIE sees water as an integral part of her life. Her life and professional goal is to utilise her Marriage and Family Therapy skills plus her love for ocean conservation to engage women in the great outdoors. To help people disconnect from the chaos of life in order to re-connect with their truest self, re-connect to their community, and re-connect to nature.  We naturally want to save what we love. Fall in love with the sea with me and lets restore it’s beauty by living plastic-free!!!

 

 

Originally posted by The Diva Cup on behalf of eXXpedition author Natalie Small.

 

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