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Thursday, September 25, 2008

DivaCup drops the environmental ball

I'm sorry to announce that Diva International has recently updated their policies regarding their DivaCup product.

You should know by now that I'm a huge DivaCup proponent and believe that every woman should at least try it to see if it works for them. Not everyone loves it, but the majority do and it saves an incredible amount of natural resources and cost for women over using disposable menstrual products.

What's different in their policies? First off, they no longer offer returns or refunds for trying their product out. I can understand this from a business perspective, it is expensive to adhere to this policy, but I don't believe that reusable menstrual cups have hit a "critical mass", so to speak, that women are ready to give it a try without having some sort of reassurance that they are not out the money for what many consider to be a very expensive product.

Of course, if it works out for you, the cost is negligible over time since you'll be saving a ton of money over having to purchase disposables, but sometimes it takes a little financial incentive to give it a try. I'm sorry to say that I think that this change in policy will reduce the number of women willing to give it a try. In other words, it's an expensive experiment for many.

The second policy change is that Diva International is now saying that the lifespan of the cup is only one year. "Due to government standards and the personal, hygienic nature of the product, a menstrual cup should be replaced once a year." Now, unless your dog has chewed it up, you microwaved it until it melted or you insist on using it as a beer bottle opener at parties, it's unlikely that your cup has been damaged in the course of one year to warrant replacement.

If you are worried about bacteria, then boil the damn thing. It's silicone for crying out loud. It's going to last longer on the earth than you will. I understand regulations and all, but I think this policy change is, quite frankly, ridiculous.

Most importantly, this second policy change completely undermines their claim of being a Green Diva. If I were to replace this giant silicone thimble every year (along with all the packaging), I suspect the environmental impact will be as much as, if not more than regular disposables. At the very least, it won't be much better than using organic cotton non-applicator tampons.

The main environmental point that I was drawn to about this product was its lifespan. How can I convince new users to try this for environmental reasons anymore? Their FAQ claims that "women, on average, experience a lifetime menstruation span of 41 years (11-52)." Aside from the fact that this may be an overestimate, let's just assume for the sake of argument that a woman would expect to blow through approximately 40 DivaCups in their lifetime. At least tampons and pads biodegrade to some extent. That's a whole heap of DivaCups that I would not be willing to recommend women send to the landfill.

Needless to say, I'm quite disappointed. Again, I can understand the business and regulatory reasons behind these policy changes but I believe that, in the end, DivaCup is not only doing their customers a disservice, but they are damaging their own business in the process.

For more information on the DivaCup policies check out the FAQ page on their website. Many thanks to Lunapads for alerting me of these updates.

45 comments:

jennconspiracy said...

wow - that is disappointing! Shame on Diva!

mudnessa said...

WOW. I have only been using my cup since May or so I think but I would never throw it out in a year's time. That is ridiculous. I am with you on the understanding of the regulations and all but things like this just irk me. Like we aren't smart enough to figure if we should or shouldn't be using something any more, oh it's been some seemingly arbitrary amount of time I must not use this anymore because "they" said so. Sadly apparently a lot of are not smart enough . . . but that's a whole other bag or worms.

Robj98168 said...

I understand your dissapointment. I think these changes in plicy will eventually hurt the company. It wouldn't be the first time a company chooses profit over their fundamental reason for being there in the first place, GM did this with the EV1, now they think that everyone will buy a CHevy VOlt. They seem to think we all have very short memories.

Natalie said...

Speaking in Diva's defense (for the record, I am just as disappointed) I think they were caught between a rock and a hard place when they went through the medical devices licensing process. It's likely they were told that to hold such a license (at least in Canada, I understand they were first licensed through the FDA and recently went through a similar process with Health Canada, the federal regulating body in Cda) they could only market it as a product with a limited lifespan (as with other similar "medical devices"). Going through this licensing process lends credibility to their product, and reassures consumers of its safety, which in the eyes of many, is important. Updating their policy also protects them from a legal standpoint. Sadly, we live in the age of litigation. Of course, there are environmental ramification to these changes. That said, the nature of the product hasn't changed, and as consumers, the onus is on us to do our research. As a loyal Diva user who's been using her cup for over a year and a half, I don't feel compelled to change mine just yet. I keep it meticulously clean, and check regularly for signs of wear and tear. As a retailer, I have no choice but to follow Diva's policies which in the end will likely affect business (and obviously has already hurt their reputation).

Stam House said...

That was interesting! I use cloth napkins and wash them (I made htem out out my old material) and since were been married I'm preggo or breastfeeding so not a lot of period so would that prolong the lifespan of the cup if I would use it or not!

MamaBird said...

Wow, so fascinating. You have to wonder what drove the decision (outside regulation, planned obsolescence profit motive). Seems clear that the year-expiration-date is silly. May be covering their arses from litigation? Who knows. Seems like you could use it indefinitely if you kept it clean - and even if you didn't, like you said, you could boil it. ??

LisaZ said...

I've been using my Glad Rags cloth pads for years. They're lasting so long I'm sick of them and wish they would wear out! But, no sign of that. I want some of the new prettier ones by other companies and some of the etsy shops! Still, you gotta admire Glad Rags dependability.

I say go with cloth pads for the durability and environment's sake. Of course, they're not always the most comfortable but in the long run everyone should probably have a stock of them if the world really is running out of oil and all that.

curiousalexa said...

I wonder who picked the one year timespan. Mine's been in use for over 5 without any problems. If they needed to put a lifespan on it for 'medical device' purposes, I would have expected 20 years!

Mossback Meadow said...

Sea Sponge - no silicone involved.

jlygrnmigt said...

I wrote to them about the change a few years ago, stating that mine has been in use for 2.5 years (and is still going strong!).

The letter I got in response makes it seem like they were forced to say this to comply with these regulations, and they are not very happy about the change themselves. Given that they actually respond to emails, I'd still buy another Diva over a Keeper if I ever need a new one, and I certainly wouldn't have one of the many available overseas shipped all the way here.

I can post the text of the email here, if you like.

jewishfarmer said...

Maybe it is time to recommend a new product for your readers! I have several friends who use "The Keeper" and love it, and they seem to be a nice company. Skimming the web I can't find a change in their lifespan regs. I chose the Diva cup because it is silicone as well, but the Keeper does have the advantage of being slightly smaller and more rounded, and might be more comfortable for some women as well.

Obviously, you also are a supporter in the best sense of cloth pads - I still think that any woman who plans to use reusable menstrual supplies should also include cloth pads as well - for those occasions when thy cup flowth over, for those occasions when cloth is easier to deal with than the diva (say on a heavy day in a public place where coming out with bloody fingers might not be fun), after childbirth or many gyn procedures when you can't use an inserted device, and for very young women. So maybe besides (rightly) castigating Diva, maybe we can shift some of that brand loyalty towards people like Glad Rags and the Keeper folk?

I have to imagine you'll be hearing from the people who make the Diva Cup to tell their side of the story - you've got to be their best spokesmodel ;-) ever! I can't imagine they'll be happy to lose you.

Sharon

Adrienne said...

I see your point... but... when I recently bought a Diva Cup I read all that stuff on their website. The way it's written, if you have any sense at all you can see that they *have* to say you can only use it for one year due to government regulations. But they do say that the cup itself will last indefinitely. Hint hint, wink wink. I think many, many women are smart enough to see through that. Lots of products give guidelines for use that would result in us using WAY more than necessary or discarding an item before it's really used up, and people know better than to follow those instructions. I generally do not have a whole lot of faith in humanity but in this case I have faith in women's common sense.

Ashley said...

Oh no! That's no good.

(Speaking of diva cups and cleaning - I've had mine over a year and it has a weird film now. Will boiling get rid of that? Or should I just ignore it? Anyone??)

PS: I love lunapads like crazy and they are the best company to do business with EVER!!

Anonymous said...

That definitely sounds like a policy designed to cover their ass should litigation ever arise. I have had mine for about 2 years and it is going strong. I LOVE my diva cup! It has made a huge difference in my ability to manage my period.

I also use cloth pads and they are the best! I really like the saucy tots ones. I wish I had found out about reusable menstrual products years ago.

Jennifer said...

Somehow, I thought they didn't accept returns anyway... it seems like the kind of thing you wouldn't be able to return.

BUT... I used my Diva cup for 4 years, and replaced it ONLY when my dog got a hold of it and chewed a hole in it. It was still perfectly functional and clean... I boil it once a month after I'm done with it.

If I had to replace it once a year, it wouldn't come CLOSE to balancing out monetarily. I would never have bought it.

I hope the policies are simply forced on them by the FDA... it's still a shame, though, and will lose them business.

Anonymous said...

I used my Keeper for 9yrs before switching to the Diva Cup. I've had this Diva Cup going on 7 years.

I boil it monthly and that's about it.

Unless they've dramatically changed their manufacturing process, the "lifespan" post certification shouldn't be any different than the "lifespan" pre-certification. Personally, I don't plan on replacing my Diva Cup any time soon.

Diana said...

Natalie: Well put. However, the DivaCup has been Health Canada certified (because it is ISO certified) since its inception. Nothing has changed in this regard except that either Health Canada decided to put a limited lifespan on the device or DivaCup pushed through such regulation (to increase repeat customers). I certainly hope Health Canada is responsible, but I also know that DivaCup is a savvy business, looking to make a profit of course, which can be difficult with a reusable product, unfortunately. I know that I am implying something here, but truly I just wonder what happened. Any more info regarding this policy change, Crunchy Chicken? Thanks for the update.

undacova mutha said...

I've been using my diva cup for about 5 years now and it is showing no sign of wear. I never boil it tho. Just soap and water, plus the occasional disinfecting in peroxide.
I also had a keeper for 7 years and it showed no visible aging either but I developed a latex allergy so I switched to the dc...
-I can't help but wonder if the silicone might be deteriorating while remaining visibly intact?

wasteweardaily said...

My guess is also to prevent being sued. Silicone breast implnts had their problems right? Can the diva cup start to break down and expose us to silicone like the breast implants? Maybe they don't even know but want to cover their asses. Maybe they have already been sued for something, who knows what though.
Cindy in FL

Rosa said...

My natural rubber Keeper did deteriorate after...seven years? It might have been eight. But I think it had to do with nonuse - I had some medical problems, and then a pregnancy, so I didn't use it for about the last 2 years. it got all dry and sort of squeaky, and the "tail" pulled off when I pulled on it, so I stopped using it.

I got a Diva and didn't like the fit, so I've switched to a mooncup, which is the silicone Keeper shape. I just checked the Keeper website and they still say up to 10 years.

Melinda said...

Bummer. That is a shame. I'm interested to hear what they say in their defense. Like Sharon, I'm sure they'll let you know, as you have done a lot for their business!

As soon as they write that, it puts doubts into my head about whether or not it does break down after a year. So that's no good - it would have deterred me from buying it, and now I wonder about it. Argh.

Hippy Habibi said...

I use a Keeper Cup (well, Moon Cup technically) and love it. Their website says the product lifespan is 10 years. I also have reusable thong-size panty liners that I love! Thanks for discussing this topic...

Kristijoy said...

Sounds more like the company is being forced to comply with the idea that mestruation is dirty and bad and the medicalization of natural human processes.

Lawsuit facotr too as others have mentioned.
As for returning cups, maybe they were taking a loss and had to discontinue the practice, it' sucks but, it sucks more if they can't keep making them.

Green Bean said...

What a disappointment! I love my Diva and I could use it FOREVER!

Chile said...

I've had my Keeper for over 10 years and its condition is fine. I got a Diva cup last year hoping to alleviate some leakage issues I'd been having. (Results mixed.) So, now I use the Diva and have the Keeper in the emergency bug-out bag.

I won't be replacing either one. At my age, I would get a horrible Return-on-Investment!

just ducky said...

I'm sorry, but I feel that some of this disappointment is misplaced--while it is completely shameful that Diva no longer offers a return option...I believe regulatory policies have forced them to issue the "one year" disclaimer. If it is a choice of your company is sued/shut down or you add the disclaimer...what choice do you have? Laws are laws. To me, the greater shame lies with the entities/regulations that forced the disclaimer to be put on in the first place. And for that matter...I don't know what laws govern returning items...you can't return pills to a pharmacy due to the law--perhaps a product like the Diva cup is covered as well. My suspicion is that this issue is far bigger than the Diva Cup folks...

Allie said...

I saw that recently, too. I had intended to try out the Diva Cup (after a very positive experience with cloth pads from saucytots.com), but was dissuaded because of the new return policy.

I did, however, get the impression when reading the "replace every year" deal that they only wrote it because they had to. It didn't read as something they believed, or even agreed with having to write.

Alana said...

I understand the return policy. If it is used, what can they do with it? No one else will want it.
As far as replacing every year, why? I'll use mine until menopause!

Rosa said...

Alana, they can absorb the cost and hope their return policy encourages people to try their product.

They must not be able to absorb the cost right now, but that doesn't mean the policy change won't discourage new users.

naughty pony said...

Oh bummer! But, I think they were likely told to add the the one year replacement by either the FDA or Health Canada.

I work in drug/medical device research regulations, and I know there is no end to the tight control the FDA has over marketing of new devices for the health and medical realm. This strikes me as something driven by a regulatory agency.

Fake Plastic Fish said...

Oh, it's just like expiration dates on drugs. Would I toss a perfectly good bottle of Vicodin just because it had expired? No way, man. I might need that stuff again some day!

Stacey said...

There are plenty of menstrual cup options out there. I personally bought the Lunette, after a lot of research into what would work best for me. I love it! I never even know it's there once it's in properly. Here's a list of all the available menstrual cups:

Menstrual Cup brands:
· Divacup
· Femmecup
· Instead
· Keeper
· Lady Cup
· Lunette
· Miacup
· Mooncup (UK)
· Moon Cup (Keeper)

Anonymous said...

The conspiracy theorist in me wonders if maybe the Tampon companies didn't put pressure on the government agencies to institute some kind of rule about shelf life. If a lot of people believed the 1-year rule, it would discourage most from buying the Diva Cup, and potentially put the company out of business.

Mrs. M said...

I've had my diva cup 6 years and other then some minor staining it's still perfect. I do boil it every so often, and to the person who complained of a film building up, get some rubbing alcohol and a thin wash-cloth and clean it, it really does the trick.
I also have some glad rags that I use for light days or sometimes at night instead of the diva cup. I've had the same 6 pads for 10 years and they won't wear out!
It is nice to totally bypass that isle in the store, I've saved so much $$ in the as several years, not to mention the peace of mind knowing I'll never run out at the wrong time!

LimeSarah said...

*sigh* Silly regulations. They do not get a cookie. I wonder why the Keeper people haven't been forced to change their lifespan estimates?

My Keeper's lasted for over six years now with no problems. I've been thinking of picking up a Mooncup just in case I develop a latex allergy at some point, though. (Not a DivaCup. Sorry, but I just can't get past the name if there are other options available. ;-) )

Sadraki said...

It's not going to change my perception of the company really since they still give out sample cups to health fairs (they punch a hole in it so promotion only). And the reality is that the combination of Diva, plus Keeper, plus other cups have gotten enough use to get the attention of the big tampon manufactures. There has been lobbying suggesting cups are unsafe (claims of causing endometriosis) and I know companies get stuck in a hard spot. It sounds pretty obvious this was a forced change on them. I would find out what regulations they are having to adhere to and talk to those people. I will still recommend it. Perhaps they should set up a program to reduce the cup cost for low income women that women that can afford it could contribute to. I.e. pay 150% for your cup so another could get it at 50% price.

The Cooking Lady said...

Mossback and Ashley beat me to it and mentioned Sea Sponges and Luna Pads. I use some of Luna Pads products but not all and I have not ventured to try sea aponges for I cannot even remember the last time I even used a tampon.

everydaykasstastrophe said...

does anyone know if the keeper is saying something similar, or are they sticking to their original guidelines?

Crunchy Chicken said...

I'm hoping to have a statement put together from both Diva International and Lunapads regarding this post - maybe sometime later this week.

terraphany said...

I was very disappointed to hear about this. When I bought a diva cup a couple of months ago (love it, btw. And I love not having to store pads and tampons in my bathroom or take them with me on trips), I must have completely glossed over that when I read the FAQs, etc. It makes no sense at all. I mean, you wouldn't expect anyone to replace their silicone bakeware every year, right? Aside from boiling, which Diva clearly instructs, I would think that a visual inspection would be enough to indicate if the cup needed to be replaced. Have you had any followup from the company since you posted this?

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad someone else noticed this!

I bought mine about 4 years ago and at the time, the website said you ought to change it every 3 years. I just went on their website to look up the lifespan and it said to change it every year! Outrageous, especially when they go on about the money you're supposed to save! It's cheaper to buy a year's worth of sanitary supplies than buy a Divacup and use it for a year!

I'm treating my Divacup like a well-loved pair of shoes. It took ages to break my Divacup in and it's now at that lovely 'soft leather' stage. I'm not giving up on this baby until there's a bloody great hole in it! Regular maintenance should be sufficient to keep it going!

Shame on Divacup! If they want to cut back financially, don't send out those weird pin badges!

Misfit said...

I have been using a DivaCup exclusively for about two years now and love it! It is quite disappointing to hear they adjusted the lifespan for this product, but, should I need a replacement, I'll switch to the Mooncup or some other product that still guarantees years of use.

question.reality said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
question.reality said...

When I bought my Diva Cup in 2003, the website told me the product would be good for ~15 years. I've been using ONLY it since then in my travels and EVERYTHING!

My last period (after I had boiled it for the first time) I felt it wasn't doing what I expected--leaking, etc. I don't know why, maybe extra heavy period. But this is the first time I've felt it wasn't doing it's job properly; 6 years later.

My guess, my issues are solely due to changes in my body, not due to the degradation of the Diva Cup.

I bet it's the companies who make the disposable menstrual products that complained. The Diva Cup works so wonderfully.

Sarah said...

Since I bought my cup with the notion that it would last for 15 years as they originally stated, I expect that this would be honored. Instead I find that they have set an expiry date of 1 year. Now I'm not a lawyer, but that smells like class action lawsuit to me. If they're interested in not being sued into maintaining their original claims, perhaps all existing customers should be sent a new Divacup every year for life.

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