Poll: Ladies, how far would you go to be eco-friendly?

If I ever want to get rid of my husband (and I often occasionally think about it when I’ve been up most of the night with the toddler and I can hear him snoring from the bedroom) in a way that doesn’t require a criminal act, I already have the perfect plan.

All I need to do is start using these.

What are they? You might ask. These, my blogging friends, are reusable cloth sanitary towels/cloth pads. And when I excitedly told my husband Ross * that I had won a sample in a Twitter party, his reaction was: “If you ever start using them I am leaving.”

In fact, almost everyone I mentioned them to has looked utterly appalled at the very idea. “It’s like going back to the Dark Ages,” one said.

When I suggested this to the Twitter party host, Tamsin at Eco Fluffy Mama, who describes herself, among other things, as a “menstrual activist and educator” she remarked that most people say “gross” at first but then come around once they know the facts.

So what are they? Well, according to Eco Femme, which is where my sample, via Earthwise Girls (thank you), comes from (although there are many different makers and types of reusable pads available):

“On average, a single woman generates 125kg of sanitary waste during her menstruating years when she uses disposable sanitary products.”

That’s more than 19 stone in old money and each one takes an estimated 500 – 800 years to decompose in landfill.

As the person above stated, cloth pads are nothing new. According to Wikipedia, the first disposable pads became available in the late 1800s but cloth pads started making a come back in developed countries in the 1970s for environmental, health and cost reasons. Of course, we are lucky because we have a choice. In many countries, women do not.

Eco Femme is a social enterprise based in southern India, where menstruation, especially in rural areas, remains taboo. According to a survey they conducted in 2011 of 300 women in rural Tamil Nadu, 95%:…

“…experience some lifestyle restriction associated with menstruation, such as sleeping outdoors, not touching farm animals, having to bathe several times a day, being forbidden from entering temples, not being able to attend family functions, not touching food that will be consumed by others, etc.”

In India, the majority of women still use scrap cloth from old saris or towels held in place with a string belt, although disposable pads are becoming more common in urban areas if people can afford them (there is more info about this on the website, if you are interested). Eco Femme adds:

“In addition to promoting eco-positive menstrual practices, our project supports education for girls and livelihood for women, with a particular focus on rural India where many women are marginalized and do not have access to education or products that enable them to manage their menstruation in a healthy and dignified way.”

My husband’s reaction was down to washing them; he didn’t like the thought of them being in with the laundry – although, I should add, if I felt strongly about using them, he would support me and wouldn’t really leave (probably). Each cloth pad lasts for about 75 washes and Eco Femme says:

Cloth pads can be washed easily by hand or in the washing machine. The secret is soaking them in cold or warm water for 30 minutes before washing. Most of the blood comes out in the soaking process. After that, it’s just like washing your clothes.

While I have failed at using cloth nappies, I wonder if this could be a way of helping to redeem myself environmentally (as well as hopefully a better, healthier option for me personally).

What do you think, ladies of the internet, would you use them?

 

* His name isn’t really Ross but I finally got around to watching the first episode of the new Poldark and, oh my goodness, how beautiful is, er, Cornwall?

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12 thoughts on “Poll: Ladies, how far would you go to be eco-friendly?

  1. I’m definitely thinking of having a go of these to complement my mooncup use! I’m not sure how ‘messy’ it may be though, and like waternymph88 has pointed out, mooncups are a little on the messy side, and I’m dubious as to how well these pads will wash. I’ll await your review and see how you get on first 😀

    I wouldn’t even mention this to Tom, he’s terrified of the topic of menustration. 😀 He’s already panicking that at some point in the future this will be a topic we’ll have with the daughter who isn’t even here yet! Well he wants to be a open, honest parent who discusses everything…so I will look forward to watching him squirm! Haa! 🙂

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    1. I have heard of a moon cup but I just don’t like the idea of it. I think I’ve got to at least give these pads a go. Like you, I am worried about how well they will wash (I struggle to get papaya stains out of Freya’s clothes!) Poor Tom, hehe. At least he wants to be open and honest, that’s the main thing.

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  2. I was cloth nappies all the way but I don’t think I’ll overcome the gag factor for these. Hats off to any converts but far too much like hard work for a lazy toad like me!

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    1. Well done! I wish I had used cloth nappies now (I had all the stuff) but it just seemed too much at the time. I’m going to give the cloth pads a go and see how much work is involved.

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      1. I never intended to use cloth in all honesty. Ended up due to umm my children’s explosive bottoms – easier to wash nappies than all those clothes. Easy to become a cloth addict though!

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  3. I actually use cloth pads and a menstrual cup. At first I thought I’d just give it a try and if I didn’t feel comfortable I’d go back to disposable products. I have never thought about going back. A well fitting menstrual cup will not be at all noticeable, to the point that you will forget you’re wearing it. The appropriate cloth pad will almost go unnoticed – to different extents depending on the top fabric. There are many different ways of washing cloth pads, you can leave them soaking or just use a wetbag. Even stick the soiled ones in a wetbag and put the wetbag – with the zip fully open – in the machine. You could just wash them with your own clothes. Unexpected bonus: cloth pads do not smell! No more disposable pads sitting stinking the bathroom out. There are entire youtube channels about cloth pads (!). I say if you already have them, why not use them? But also bear in mind that maybe you like the idea but not the model – so you could get another brand. Good luck!

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    1. What a brilliant comment, thank you. That’s really useful info. I had no idea there were YouTube channels about it all! (Do I dare look? :)) I am going to give them a go for sure (but first I’m going to Google “wet bag”). Thanks again.

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      1. You can make your own wet bag! 😉 Same kinda thing for soiled cloth nappies. I bought some PUL plasticky material the other week (£2 a metre), going to have a go at making one, loads of tutorials on Pinterest! 😉

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  4. I have only once seen a soiled pad on youtube, and it’s only because it was a video about stain removal. Doesn’t bother me but I understand it may bother other people. They did give a warning though (it was a Precious Stars Pads video, if I’m not mistaken). Other than that, you will normally only ever see clean pads and there’s lots of tips. All in all I’d say they’re pretty safe 😉

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  5. It’s a tricky one isn’t it – the facts about landfill are completely hideous but I can’t say I fancy the reuseable ones to be honest. I kind of feel like I have enough washing to do with two kids, plus the idea of having a soaking bucket is one of the things that put me off cloth nappies. I recently read about all the chemicals that are put into tampons and towels though, and that sounds equally awful!

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