Periods are less than green. Bleached, chemical ridden, fibres of questionable origins. What IS that super absorbent blue stuff in that pad? And the plastic… OH the PLASTIC; backings and adhesives and wrappers and applicators. So much garbage and waste.
My first period started on picture day and I was grateful to have been wearing tights so there was no embarrassing evidence of my arrival into womanhood. My mom gave me flowers and a card to mark the life event which was very nice but all I remember thinking is that I was going to have to put up with this mess for YEARS! When I was younger, I remember seeing a box of pads in the the back of the bathroom cupboard that did not have adhesive. I was amazed to find out they were attached with a belt! Let’s just say I was happy for modern advancements in this department. The pads I first used were like sitting on couch cushions in your underwear they were so thick. Oh how things have changed!
These monthly supplies do not come cheap and in my quest to go zero waste I started researching alternatives. There are cups, sea sponges and cloth pads made up of an array of environmentally friendly materials. I even saw a pattern for a crocheted tampon. I am sure the various cups are probably the most environmentally friendly option when it comes to using them (not sure about the manufacturing) but lifestyle wise they really would not work for me and healthwise I had some serious concerns. I looked at premade, reusable sanitary napkins made of cute and kitschy fabrics but the prices were high and I was not sure what style would work. I looked at many patterns online and honestly some of them just seemed too involved for something I was just going to tuck in my undies (who is going to see these anyways?!). So after much humming and hawing I decided to sew a couple very simple pads. I picked up an old flannel sheet at the Thrift Store and cut it into about 2 1/2 inch strips. I made the strips about 7 inches long and sewed the perimeter of between five and nine layers of these strips together. Done, that is it. No snaps or buttons or wings or anything. These are just compression fit pads. In one of them I will try a wool layer in between the flannel. It is all trial and error.
I figured I would try these pads out at night. If I only used them when sleeping, I would save about 7 pads a period, and every two months I would be not throwing away the equivalent of one package of pads. Over the course of a year that is six packages of pads that would not end up in the landfill equalling about $25 in savings.
I am sure a lot of you are wondering about the washing part. I already have a bucket in the bathroom that is for cloth toilet paper (I have not made a full switch, I am just experimenting still since I do not wash laundry every week I have not committed to all cloth all the time). I figure I will just put some water and cleaner in the bucket to soak the pads until wash day.
I do not want this to be a complicated proposition. I also do not want this to be an all or nothing deal. I just want to make the world a better and healthier place and I know every little change counts. So if I can limit the amount of disposable items I use during my menstrual cycle, I am making a small difference. We will see how this experiment goes!
On a side note I just want to say not all women are able to afford sanitary products. Many women have to use less hygienic items like bark or unclean rags or whatever else they can find, if they use anything at all. Many women miss school and work because of their periods. These missed days add up to a lot of missed opportunities and can negatively affect the outcome of their lives causing them to drop out of school or suffer from lost wages. Normalizing reusable products will make accessibility easier for all women. We all deserve equality.