Approximately 11,000 disposable pads and/or tampons are used in a person's lifetime. Multiply that by the number of people on the planet that use menstrual products and you have a scary amount of waste building up!
There are various products available now such as menstrual cups, crochet tampons and cloth sanitary pads (CSP). CSP are my personal preference so that's what I'd like to discuss here. Interested in menstrual cups? Take this quiz to get a better idea of where to start.
So, CSP, I've been using them for around 6 years now. I started off with a starter kit from Earthwise Girls, it contained a couple of low absorbency / liners, I think about 4 regulars and a few heavies. I can't remember the cost of them now but it was a great starting point. And they were great. No crinkly wrappers or indeed crinkly plastic backing, no overpowering floral smells, and they weren't that clinical, boring white.
After a while I discovered a few small businesses, work at home mums, that make and sell cloth pads. Their pads were so bright, so colourful and had the most fantastic patterned fabric. Ngozi and Red Queen were my next purchases. I was drawn in by the pretty fabric toppers and when they arrived I actually couldn't wait for my period to start again!
To be able to open the drawer and choose which pretty pattern I fancied was just brilliant. It sounds ridiculous to actually write it down but I was so happy to be wearing something bright and colourful in my knickers! It's like realising halfway through the day that you're actually wearing a matching bra and knickers set and you suddenly feel so much sexier. Maybe it's just me being my weird self, but that's how CSP make me feel.
I then started to venture into making my own. Making your own CSP is a bit overwhelming at first. There's so much information out there about which fabrics to use for each part, do you use plastic snaps, ribbon or buttons. Do you make a hidden, floating or exposed core? It goes on. But there are some handy guides out there to help and I found a few Facebook groups really helped me on my way to making them. It was a great way to use up some of the fabric that I had accumulated over the years!
Some of the stigma around CSP comes from cleanliness concerns. There are lots of different ways people use to wash their CSP. This does come down to personal preference - who you live with, your current washing routine, the heaviness of your flow - there's various things that will mean you prefer to wash yours one way and someone else will do something different. For me, I'm very lucky that I have a partner who has no squeamishness around menstruation and is very understanding that it is just a part of life. My CSP just get thrown in with the rest of the washing and hung out to dry like everything else. Depending on flow I might rinse with room temp water when I finish using one or if it has a lighter colour topper I might use some sort of eco stain remover stick but otherwise they do just get thrown straight into the wash "basket". Personally I see it as being no different than washing mucky clothes.
I recently found Head in the Woods too. Sanne sews up some lovely eco friendly products including a really interesting take on CSP with a pad that you can use inserts in to boost it's absorbency.
Here are some links to tutorials, sellers & Facebook groups to help you get started:
- Ngozi Sews. Unfortunately I cannot find a link for her anymore.
- Head in the Woods. There's a few sets to choose from.
- Red Queen Cloth. There's also a Facebook group for Red Queen Cloth
- Versodile is a fantastic maker & pattern creator there's free patterns, tutorials & early bird access to new patterns in her Facebook group - Sewing Cloth Menstrual Pads by Versodile
Let me know your thoughts on CSP. Do you use them already? Have you been considering them but haven't made the leap? Is there something about them that you aren't sure on?