Thursday, February 08, 2007

Washable Menstrual Pads

As I promised when I issued the "Ditch The Disposables" challenge, I ordered some washable menstrual pads from the PlushPants website. It used to be owned by a friend of mine, but now is run by a very nice lady from Oxfordshire.

PlushPants' main business is selling reusable nappies, of which it has an impressive array. Things have really moved on from terry squares and huge punk safety pins. If you use nappies you might want to have a look.

But they also sell washable menstrual pads, which I was delighted to find come in a range of funky colours and patterns including leopard-print, tartan (no Black Watch, sadly), and coy little moons (geddit?). Just like the disposable type they come in a choice of sizes and absorbency, but in case you're feeling a bit bewildered there is a handy guide to help you figure out what you need. I also got a nifty little bag to store them in inside your handbag.

When it all got added up they weren't cheap, but they still come to less than I typically spend on sanitary products in a year. These should last a lot longer than that so they'll be a financial saving eventually. But they'll be saving the earth's resources from the get go.


Moonwaves said...

I'll be doing something similar soon. I've trawled my way through the discussion on it's not easy being green and for some reason been surprised that this topic has come up on several blogs and in conversation a few times over the last month (not sure why I'm surprised, I find people often seem to separately start thinking about and discussing the same things at the same time).

I've decided I'm not quite sure about a mooncup but I will probably buy one in a couple of months. I think I'll need to have it before I can really decide to use it and I also think if I've forked out money for it I'll be more likely to give it a go. In the meantime I am going to get some washables as I'll need pantyliner type ones anyway. Of course, now you've offered me yet another shop choice to order from. I never thought I'd be getting so excited about sanitary towels but some of them are so cute looking. Plushpants looks a bit expensive but it seems they are organic too which may be worth it. So many choices...

Ally said...

There's been a discussion on downsizer about this, this week, too. And the nappies this is going to be very useful to us in a few months!

red_swirl said...

If you're interested in making your own later on, I noticed some info here:
Tutorial: DIY eco friendly menstrual pads

Steph in Roker said...

Thanks Red, that site's great. Now I have a box full of hankies made of scrap tissues, I may turn my hand to making some of my own. If Mel ever organises a moot, I can just see us in the ladies, comparing products.

Nerd in the Country said...

There used to be (and probably still is) a magazine called Garbage. My mother subscribed from the first issue -- where the editor proudly stated that it was printed on recycled paper (very difficult to do, from what I understand.)

Anyhow, they once analyzed the environmental impact of disposable diapers vs. cloth diapers.

It turns out that the impact is pretty much the same. Disposables use up land fill, and cloth uses up detergent and puts bleach and fertilizer into the sewage system.

If we had moved out to the country when our kids were still in diapers, I would have dug a huge hole, put the soiled diapers in for a few months, then covered it and planted a tree on top. That way, the fertilizer would be used and the rest would decompose long before the tree eventually dies.

mel and stefs cousin said...

o steph thats a bit disgusting! anyway why would you want to go back to post war days when these 21st century products are extremely handy to use yet more efficient!
to be honest i think you lot are going eco-green-mad!

plus you are spending more money for organic or reusable pads etc when ones sold in the shops are cheap enough.


Melanie Rimmer said...

Hi Moonwaves, do let us know how you get on with your mooncup. I decided not to try them (although I know some people who swear by them) because for some reason I'm just not sure it would work, whereas I don't see how washable pads can go wrong. Maybe I'm just sceptial for no reason.

Congratulations Ally! Practise your nappy-changing technique on a dolly (or a friend's baby). It's much easier than trying to figure out what to do with a squirming crying newborn. Ask me how I know.

Red Swirl - trust you! I had already bookmarked that site and was going to make it the subject of a future blog post. You guys are always doing this to me. I think it's a case of great minds thinking alike.

Nerd, I've seen similar research showing that disposable and washable nappies (diapers) have a similar-sized environmental impact, but the types of impact differ, as you say. Being aware of this, it is possible to reduce the impact of either choice. For example, you can choose to wash washables without bleach, or to dry them on the line instead of with electricity. Alternatively, you could choose to buy disposables made from organic and biodegradable unbleached materials, which are now available (at extra cost). It's all about knowledge and making an informed choice, rather than accepting the easiest option without thinking through the alternatives.

Steph, a bean-sprouts moot. I like it! Why didn't I think of that?

Amy, the reusable pads work out cheaper because you can use them again and again. As for why we would want to go back to post war days, it's because in those days humanity wasn't doing so much damage to the environment as we are now. We want to choose options which save the planet even if they are a little bit more effort. We think it's worth it.

Hedgewizard said...

Can I stick with the soup?

Steph in Roker said...

Hedgy, on 'men's' subjects, apart from not shaving, is there a 'greener'alternative. i know I'd never use the chemical likes of Immac to remove hair, but i do use disposable, plastic razors. Can you get cut-throat razors still? And if so, how on earth could one use them on arm pits? I know it's not very eco-friendly, but personally I'm not a fan of the 'planet of the apes' look myself.

amy said...

okay, now i finally understand why your green lol.
you have more patience than me so go for it, i couldn't be bothered with the amount of effort it will take to do all these economically friendly things!

Hedgewizard said...

Moom wax!

I've not seen cutthroats in a long while... they'd do the job but you'd have to trust someone to do it for you while you contorted to get the skin flat. Er.

Nerd in the Country said...

Hey, Hedgewizard,

One solution is to use an electric razor (sorry, but I have no idea if it'll work on your pits).

The amount of electricity used is really negligable. Still, if you're worried about that tiny fraction of a kilowatt-hour per year, you can look for a wind-up rotary razor.

Carolyn said...

The mooncup is excellent and less hassle than pads.

antipodesgirl said...

A nice surprise to see this on an allotment blog :-D I confess that I switched to a Mooncup and washable pads about 6 months ago. The Mooncup is great, but you do need about 3 cycles to get the hang of it. But afterwards it is SOOO convenient, no more carrying around tampons etc and it holds a lot. I do use backup pads because I have a very heavy cycle but I have had no embarrassing leaks.
I made my pads myself with an old towel and some soft cotton and a few press studs. They make no crinkly noise and surprisingly they do not produce any odour. They are super comfy! I don't care if they stain, so I just rinse them with cold water and a bit of soap then chuck em in the wash. Now my periods cost nothing! and I am not supporting the giant industry that tells us women are dirty and smelly and need to stick plastic things on our bodies or people will point and laugh in the street. It's such nonsense. And for Amy, yes it does take more time and effort to be "green" but the quick and easy way is not sustainable! I would rather use my energy to help the planet than to stand in a supermarket queue buying things that some marketing guy tells me I must have... BTW green is often MUCH cheaper in the long run. Bit of a rant I know but it's the truth.
Good luck to all you anti-disposables :-)

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