Making the Menstrual Cup Mainstream: A Conversation with Ruby Gertz

January 28, 2015
Making the Menstrual Cup Mainstream: A Conversation with Ruby Gertz

Just a few weeks ago I received an email from our contact at REI. Dave was writing to connect me with a potential partner, Ruby from Sustainable Cycles. After reading his email, I quickly read up about the initiative and was inspired! A few days later I spoke with Ruby to learn more about what she’s up to — and to find out more about what made her decide to take three months off of work, and cycle cross country. Here’s a glimpse into our convo:

Tell us about yourself. What are you up to when you’re not getting ready for a cross country cycling trip?

I hail from the Boston area and have lived in Brooklyn, New York for going on 7 years. I have a BFA from Pratt Institute in fashion design, and I currently work in the field of art/fashion education! In addition to being a part-time admissions counselor at my alma mater, I teach sewing classes to children and adults. I’ve always been a “maker,” and have loved crafting and DIY since I was small. I also enjoy cooking and trying new foods, especially biking to the outer boroughs of NYC with my bike friends to try off-the-beaten-path cuisine. Living in NYC is wonderful because there are so many neighborhoods to explore (especially by bike).

How did you discover Sustainable Cycles? What inspired to join their cross country trip?

I found out about Sustainable Cycles from my ride partner, Sarah Wilson. She and I met at Pratt, and she had tried to convince me for a long time to try a menstrual cup. I was skeptical. When Sarah Konner (one of the founders of Sustainable Cycles) led a workshop in New York, Sarah Wilson dragged me along, hoping I would finally be converted. I was! I got to take a menstrual cup home with me from the workshop, with the promise that I would give it my best shot for three months. I’ve used the cup consistently and love it, and would never go back to disposables! Sarah Wilson and I talked a lot about how effective the workshop was, and how having that person-to-person support and encouragement really inspired me to give the cup a chance! We have always wanted to do something daring and ambitious that addressed all of our interests (women’s empowerment, body positivity, bicycles), and supporting this project by carrying it forward seemed like the perfect opportunity!

What’s the path you are taking cross country?

Sarah and I are flying out to San Francisco, CA on February 26th, and will bike west to east across the country, meeting up with other spokeswomen on May 14th in Richmond, VA. Then we will bike as a group up the East Coast to Boston to present at the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research‘s 2015 Conference. The major cities we are passing through along the way are Sacramento, Carson City, Salt Lake City, Boulder, Denver, Topeka, Kansas City, St. Louis, Bloomington, Cincinnati, and Roanoke. So far we are in the process of planning some awesome workshops at UC Davis, a navy base in Fallon, Nevada, several workshops and an all-women’s alleycat race in Salt Lake City, among others!

How are you preparing for the trip?

This is my first long-distance bicycle trip, so everything is new (and somewhat overwhelming!). I bought a new bicycle last fall that’s set up specifically for touring, and I’ve been slowly amassing all of the gear I will need. We have been looking at dozens of maps, trying to figure out the best routes between cities, and put our trip on a timeline, as well as reaching out to people and communities who might be interested in hosting events. We have also been fundraising to cover our basic costs of living (food, bike repair, etc) since we are not going to be paid for the ample time we are taking off from work to do this! Our Indiegogo campaign is up, and I am excited to say we are almost halfway to meeting our goal.

Making the Menstrual Cup Mainstream: A Conversation with Ruby Gertz

Is this the longest cycling trip you’ve done? What are the biggest concerns about the trip? Any fears?

This is absolutely the longest bicycle trip I’ve ever done! I’ve done long day trips, but I’ve never carried camping gear on my bicycle or ventured out of state before! I am so excited to be embarking on this adventure, but I am also nervous about the possibility of confronting my body’s limits. There are sure to be trying moments when my partner and I have disagreements or are riding at different levels, and I hope we don’t encounter any serious health issues along the way. I have also never ridden in desolate areas before, so that will be new and kind of scary. There are several stretches along our route in Nevada where there are no towns (or even gas stations) for 75+ miles. If something breaks or goes wrong along those distances, it could take a while for help to reach us.

What are you most excited about?

As much as those desolate areas scare me, I am also so excited to just go, go, go! I am so used to city riding, with constant stopping at red lights, fighting traffic, and being nervous that cars won’t see me. I can only imagine how liberating it will feel to just bike for miles and miles with no traffic and no stopping, just enjoying the beautiful scenery all around us. Like flying!

Making the Menstrual Cup Mainstream: A Conversation with Ruby Gertz

When did your love affair with eco-friendly menstrual products start? Any advice for a woman thinking about trying one?

Like I mentioned before, my ride partner finally converted me to menstrual cup use after I got to take one home with me from a Sustainable Cycles workshop. I think that any woman wanting to try one definitely should! I would suggest that she seriously give it her best effort for a minimum of three months, because there is a learning curve, and it’s easy to want to give up and toss it away when it doesn’t work perfectly the first few times. I had a hard time getting my cup to open fully the first few times I used it, which was super frustrating. Luckily, I had the support of some other cup users who made suggestions and led me to that ah-hah! moment when I finally figured out how it was supposed to feel. I think it’s helpful for women trying to use the cup for the first time to talk to other users, and have that network and community of support to get you over that hump!

Anything else you’d like to share with Pink Pangea readers?

If you travel a lot and have never tried a menstrual cup, try one! They are so liberating in that you don’t have to carry a big annoying stash of pads and tampons around with you, you only have to empty it once or twice a day (rather than changing disposables every few hours), you will never have to look for a garbage can, and it may even lessen your cramps!

Making the Menstrual Cup Mainsteam: A Conversation with Sustainable Cycles Spokeswoman Ruby Gertz
Ruby Gertz

Making the Menstrual Cup Mainstream: A Conversation with Ruby Gertz

About Jaclyn Mishal

Jaclyn MishalJaclyn Mishal is a co-founder of Pink Pangea. An entrepreneur, writing teacher and an inspirational public speaker, Jaclyn’s speciality is guiding people to express themselves fully. Her creative guided writing activities help even the most seasoned writers break out of their habits and expand their abilities. According to Jaclyn, writing enables us to access parts of ourselves that we may have trouble expressing otherwise. For more about Jaclyn visit www.pinkpangea.com/about

4 thoughts on “Making the Menstrual Cup Mainstream: A Conversation with Ruby Gertz

  1. Avatar
    Saffron Muller
    January 28, 2015
    Reply

    A big deterrent for most people is the cost. Giving them away for free is a big help, but please stay aware that a lot of people can’t pay that $30 price. This issue emcompasses a lot of communities, be sensitive and check your privileges when speaking about them.

    • Avatar
      Jacqui
      January 29, 2015

      The cost is a bit high compared to $7-10 for disposables, but menstrual cups last for 5 years! You will have your $30 worth in 3 months and save hundreds

    • Avatar
      Valerie
      January 29, 2015

      Disposables can cost as low as 25 cents from machines in restrooms. I get what you’re saying, Jacqui, but 30 dollars for a poor person is feeding your family for two weeks. Especially when the product isn’t something someone is sure of.
      Menstrual cups are currently for the privileged and it’d be great if we can work on a way to make them accessible for all communities.

  2. Avatar
    Renee Pope
    January 28, 2015
    Reply

    More then just women use menstrual products! Please include trans* folk in your discussion and meetings! Rock on

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