If I had such an opportunity, I would not hesitate to bleed free in a moonlit forest with other women during the flow of blood from our wombs in sacred ritual. This said, I currently take on a nurturing and maternal role for myself, the earth and humanity through the creation and use of my reusable menstruation cloths.
According to Nina Rastogi of slate.com and Elissa Stein and Susan Kim of Flow, the average American menstruating person could accrue about 62,415 pounds of waste in a lifetime.
In the midst of over consumption and our throwaway culture, I look at minimalism and mindful consumption as a way to connect in healthy ways with my body and the bodies of the earth.
As I begin to maintain and sustain the clothing that I keep instead of buying new clothing, I find myself sewing, mostly mending, more and more. So it was both easy and satisfying to take some thick, organic cotton fabric and stitch layers of it into the lining of my underwear that now are beautiful and comfortable period panties.
After use, I rinse out the underwear and set it aside for when I do laundry, and then reach for a clean pair. It is really that simple.
This is a sacred ritual for me because I feel more connected with my flow as I watch the blood rinse with water in the shower (where my personal rinsing happens) and because it helps me reduce my participation in the earth as marketplace.
Sometimes the only power I feel that I have to protest excessive consumerism and desperation and violence that occur due to hierarchies created by mindless capitalism is to refuse to signal to companies producing products that they are needed in increasing quantity. I have power in my life to consume less food, clothing, and fewer hygiene and beauty products, and to begin to tend to my insecurities, anxieties, depression, and boredom in healthy ways rather than emotional consumption. Obviously I am one person with one particular body and life environment, and switching from disposable pads to these comfortable and long-lasting (so far) cotton cozies is hardly a sacrifice. I feel more physically and emotionally nourished, and I do not need to spend any more money for a while, which is a benefit. Other menstruating persons might have other bodies or flow situations where this is not such an appealing option, and that is wonderful as well because we can all contribute to more mindful consumption in different ways.
LaChelle Schilling, Ph.D., graduated in 2014 from the Women and Religion program at Claremont Graduate University. She teaches an online composition class at Oklahoma State University from a contemplative pedagogical approach. Currently, she is working on a book project titled Minimalism, Mindfulness, and the Middle Way, incorporating guidance from sacred wisdom literatures. She is also working on certification as a yoga instructor.