When it comes to reducing waste and cost, many people start looking into reusable nappies and other options, where disposable items can be replaced with a more environmentally friendly option. When my son was born in 2013, I was the same. However, it took me until summer 2015, when my daughter was 9 months old until I finally made the switch to cloth nappies. It went well and I was so fascinated by all the space we suddenly had in our waste bin, that I started looking into other waste-free options. Through the large and very supportive cloth nappy community online, I soon heard about reusable sanitary products like menstrual cups and reusable cloth pads.
My first thought: "No way!!" like lots of others I initially drew the line of my zero waste efforts when it came to sanitary products. When I was a teen and had my first period I was introduced to disposable products, which would ensure, nobody would know I had my period, and I could very quickly head to the ladies room, change my tampon or pad, let the used one discretely slip into the bin provided and that's that. Easy, clean and almost never talked about! What I didn't learn as a teen, was that those products have risks and create mountains of unnecessary waste I wasn't aware that there are in fact other options available until I stumbled upon a comment on Facebook more than 13 years later! Now, I still go to the ladies room and change my pad (or empty my menstrual cup), but instead of slipping the used one in the waste bin, I slip it in my very cute little wet bag, which then goes into my handbag. Same effect - less waste!
If you are the same and have recently discovered the existence of reusable sanitary products or if this is the first time you have heard about it - chances are, you might be interested but at the same time, you can't really imagine how it is all going to work for you. First off, I can assure you: It is not as you imagine and once you have tried it and found what works for you, you probably don't want to go back to disposable products. And here is why!
1. You save money!How many sanitary products are you using every month and how much do they cost? Now multiply this by 12 and you know what you spend on your menstrual hygiene every year. When you consider the average woman has about 35 to 40 years worth of periods, this can add up to a lot of money that goes directly into landfill! In fact, it is estimated that you spend about £18,000 on disposable pads and tampons over the course of your life - when you decide to use cloth, you can save up to £8,400! That is an awful lot of money!
2. You will be a lot more comfortable!It's very easy to see, how a cloth pad is a lot more comfortable to wear than a disposable one. Just think about the clothes you wear every day. You would probably choose a jumper, which is made of breathable and organic cotton over a sticky synthetic top, that will just cause you loads of sweat and irritate your skin. It's basically the same with washable sanitary pads, they are cooler and softer against one of the most sensitive parts of skin on your body. You also have a variety of materials to choose from - between cotton, bamboo, fleece and more you can make sure to find something you and your skin are 100% happy with! By the way: Thanks to the breathability of the fabric, cloth pads are also less likely to smell! Say bye bye to this heavy, sweaty and sticky feeling during your period!
3. You will be healthier!This one might surprise you. After all, you thought you couldn't go wrong with something that is as freely available as disposable sanitary products. However, your average disposable sanitary pad contains the equivalent of four plastic bags, including all the health hazards that come with it. But plastic is not only potentially harming your body with BPA and BPS but also with its unbreathable nature, which makes you more prone to yeast infections and skin irritations. Besides, your tampons and pads are also bleached to achieve that very clean and very white look. I admit it looks pretty and gives you the feeling to be healthy and clean, but the chlorine bleach that is used to make them look like that can create toxic dioxin which can cause harm on a number of different levels. You spent about 16.5 years of your life menstruating - that is 16.5 years being directly exposed to chemicals and toxins - crazy thought, isn't it? Cloth pads are mainly made from breathable and organic materials, which are not only gentle to your skin but also healthier for the rest of your body! As a direct result using reusable sanitary pads or a menstrual cup can give you some serious relief from menstrual cramps.
4. You minimise the risk of Toxic Shock SyndromeYou might have heard of women that have been left very sick, hospitalised and in some rare cases even passed away during their period. The reason: Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS)! This is a very rare but very serious condition caused by Staphylococcus bacteria which enters your body and releases toxins. TSS has been linked to the high absorbency and prolonged use of tampons. If you want to entirely eliminate the risk of period-related TSS you can exclusively use reusable cloth pads. The risk to suffer from this infection when using a menstrual cup is minimal and as long as you use the cup as recommended - wash and sterilise before first use, empty regularly and make sure to wash your hands beforehand - your risk is even more reduced compared to using regular tampons.
5. You will help to save the planet!This reason, I think, is my favourite one. By making the switch and using cloth sanitary pads or a menstrual cup instead of disposable products you are actively helping to save our planet. Every year about 4.3 billion (!!) sanitary products are disposed of in the UK alone! Not only does it take those mountains upon mountains of pads and tampons a couple of hundred years to break down and decompose, but they also create pollution, when they are produced. You might argue, that cloth pads also need to be produced, which inevitably will create some pollution as well. However, one cloth pad can be used for 5 to 7 years - one disposable pad doesn't even last 5 to 7 hours!
Ditch your hesitations and make your period waste free!
Of course, there are many many more reasons, why so many people decide to make the switch from disposable to reusable sanitary products, everyone probably has a different motivation! Besides all the reasons above, I also like the fact, that by buying reusable products, like TCs Eco cloth pads I can support small family businesses as supposed to multinational enterprises. I also really like how pretty they look and that I have so many different options in materials, designs and shapes - I can try and test and find exactly what's right for me and my body! You don't even have to just stick to cloth pads, as you also have the option of using a menstrual cup and reusable tampons or even start by using natural sanitary products from Natracare. This variety of choice ensures that you will be comfortable, leak free and healthy throughout your period as well as environmentally friendly of course!
If you are worried about the practicalities of it: There's really nothing to worry about and you will get the hang of it pretty quickly - just like at the time, when you first started using disposable products. At first, it all seems daunting and scary, but after one or two cycles it's all just another part of your life! So just give it a go - you have nothing to lose!Not sure where to start and what to do next? Join the Baba Me Facebook Group and get useful tips and helpful advice from our staff and more than 30,000 happy customers.