It was time. I had been thinking over this for quite some time. The sad truth is, women create more waste than men. I mean, this may not be patently true, but we create more waste at least once a month than men do. How so? Well…in the US alone, 20 billion feminine hygiene products are dumped into landfills. That is just in the US alone!! Imagine how many more billions of these products are thrown out all over the world? The thought of this much waste… There has to be some way to do my part to lesson the Pink Plastic Waste created just from being a woman.
The first step I took was looking into how to safely reduce the necessity for the products in the first place. Many years ago, I decided that I absolutely do not want to have children (which, as an added bonus, reduces my overall lifetime carbon footprint). After this decision, I started looking into types of birth control that would reduce or eliminate the monthly shedding of my U-lining. It took a while, but eventually, I found a birth control that got me down to only two periods a year.
Disclaimer: whether to have or not have children, whether to go on birth control, and finding the one that works for you are all very personal decisions that should not be made lightly. I am not advocating for anyone to make the same choices as me; I am just telling you what I have tried in order to reduce my Pink Plastic Waste.
Anyway, I managed to get down to two periods a year, but still felt that there was more I could do for the environment. I researched and discovered two options: reusable cloth pads and a menstrual cup. As I am personally uncomfortable with the thought of using a menstrual cup at this time, I opted to try out the reusable cloth pads first. Buuuuuut, after waiting months and months, I still had not had a visit from Aunt Flow…I decided it was time to call in some help.
And that brings me to Alyson! Now, my strange family history is so convoluted that I won’t even try to explain how she is ‘related’ to me, but I usually just call her my cousin to simplify things. I’ll just let Alyson introduce herself as I am going to do this post as a straight up interview.
Hi! I’m Allison and currently I’m 21, working on my undergrad in history and pre-law, and looking for something exactly like this to take with me when I volunteer for the peace corps next year! These are easy to pack and store, take up MUCH less space in a bag than regular pads.
Thanks for that introduction, Alyson. If you want to check out more about Alyson, head on over to her LinkedIn profile. Before we get into the interview, take a look at the reusable pads set that she is testing out:
Cute, right? The set comes with five pads and a waterproof bag for you to carry clean or used ones in. Anyway, now on to the interview!
ME: Hello! I hope this isn’t too personal….but are you on your period now?
Her: Actually I just ended! So, overall I loved the reusable pads and I plan on using them next month as well!
ME: That’s good to hear! Any pros/cons that you’d like to share?
Her: 1. Pro:They are comfy all day! Con: I had to adjust the positioning as the day went on once I got to the end of my period because the fabric was more likely to stick to my lady-parts when the flow wasn’t heavy enough to hold it down. 2. Pro: extremely absorbent! Astonishingly so. Con: after washing them, it took over 2 days for them to dry completely after wringing them out and 20 minutes in the dryer first!
ME: For the first con, do you think it would be solved if you had another size(like we have panty liners and heavy flow days?
Her: Most likely, the thinner ones might have been handy at the end of the cycle
Me: I see. Regarding the second con-about how long it takes for them to dry-do you think you need a bunch of pads to make this a viable replacement to disposables?
Her: not necessarily! I washed them all at once by running hot water and then cold water over them and using a wet washcloth with soap to disinfect before using for the first time because that’s what is recommended, but in the real situation when they aren’t brand new, I think I could wear one, wash it, wear the next 4 while the first is drying and cycle them through like that.
Me: Ah, okay, that’s good. Did you try them for overnights?
Her: Yes, but my flow isn’t naturally as heavy at night so this is something that will change depending on the woman herself. The pad is designed without any extra protection on the front and back, like a piece of paper curved upward on both ends. So when you lay down, I think for some women with extremely heavy flows it may slide down the waterproof bottom like a ramp right onto the bed! That said, I did not experience any difficulty or difference at night from any other pad! And this con is a con for all pads in general anyway.
Me: Okay. Do you think longer pads would help resolve this issue? The ones you have are the mediums.
Her: Yes, the mediums worked for me at night, but women with heavy flows will definitely want to get long ones for nighttime The pros are that they work GREAT and help the environment. These cons are just tiny inconveniences compared to the weight of the pros.
Me: okay. And as you said, one of the cons is an issue with any pad on the market
Me: I suppose I should have asked this at the beginning,but how would you rate your normal flow? Light, medium, heavy? Like, the directions say to use them for up to 6 hours. Was that about right for you?
Her: I usually have a super heavy first day, a medium flow for about 4 days and light spotting for a while after that. In my medium flow I was able to keep it on through the work day, about 8 hours, and change when I got home. A lot of women think something like this would be gross but it wasn’t at all! The bag that comes with is for used pads and will hold an unused one until you need to change. I was not grossed out at all, mostly because the fabric is black and you can’t see anything anyway. Washing was easy, the blood comes right out with the water flowing over. They would be cleaned most efficiently in a bathtub but since I don’t have one I used the kitchen sink and just disinfected afterward.
Me: Okay, awesome. I don’t see how women would consider this grosser than using a regular pad though haha I would think that a regular pad would be even worse as they are white.
Her:Right! My personal stigma was the fact that you can just throw a regular pad away but have to wash these by hand. Wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought
Me: Ah, yeah, that could weird some people out….Well, alright, Alyson, I think that finishes up all of my questions. Thank you so much for being my tester!
Anytime! Thanks for thinking of me when you wanted to write it, and thanks for the pads. I will definitely use them!
So, another special thanks to Allison for helping me out with my testing. If you have any additional questions for Allison regarding the use of the cloth pads comment on this post and I’ll have her answer to you right away! On a different note, do any of you use cloth pads or menstrual cups? Comment your experience below!
To find out more about what I use for sustainable living or blogging, check out my Resources page.