Once was a time when women welcomed and celebrated the new moon, where they came together to support one another, share wisdom and feast. Then came the times where no-one spoke about menstruation, where it was swept away on a tide of bleached plastic/cotton and ladies wearing white jeans, riding horses… Lucky for us the tides seem to be turning again, women are reclaiming their periods by live tweeting them with the hashtag #livetweetmyperiod, the media is talking about free bleeding, period pants and finally people are coming to understand (or at least take interest in) what exactly goes into the making of disposable sanitary pads and tampons.
Cloth sanitary pads are far from new, my gran used to tell me horror stories about her period belt and clip on pads that were washed by hand and hung on the line for all to see (oh the shame!) but they are having a resurgence that’s for sure.
A quick search online brings up hundreds of makers, facebook is awash with businesses making and selling bespoke pads in all kinds of funky fabrics. You can get exactly what you need in exactly the colour/pattern your want or you can buy “off the shelf”. There is a thriving reselling culture too – talk about eco friendly!
Cloth pads come in a range of sizes, fabrics and absorbancies, they can be washed in the machine with your regular clothes and usually tumble dried (if needs be) they are a great eco alternative to disposable products and although the initial outlay for them can seem quite steep (upwards of £6 per pad) they will last for years and years. Many people add a pad per month and slowly phase out of disposables.
Menstrual cups are also becoming hugely popular and are even more frugal as you only have to buy the one! You have to do a good bit of research before you buy, a familiar/recommended brand name doesn’t guarantee success, you need to really get to know your area and choose a cup the right length, width and capacity. However the fantastic Eco Fluffy Mama has a whole blog of awesomeness filled with reviews of cups and pads. You definitely want to check it out.
In the long run, going reusable will save you money but better than that, it will keep harsh chemicals away from your body, it will reduce your risk of TSS and it will reduce the amount of plastic waste going into landfill/washing up on our beaches. Some women even report that their periods become shorter and less painful when not exposed disposable products, who wouldn’t want that?!