They help the environment
Have you ever wondered how much waste goes into landfill just from our periods alone? Pads, tampons, applicators, packaging, it all gets thrown away every single cycle. Some sources estimate that a woman might use more than 11,000 pads or tampons in a lifetime. That’s 11,000 items going into landfill when there’s simply no need.
Have you considered what chemicals go into disposable period products? Dioxins, bleaches and fragrances are common to find in shop bought pads and tampons, many of which have been linked with contributing to the development of cancers. The vagina is a mucus membrane and is very susceptible to absorbing particles from whatever is next to it, therefore, it only makes sense not to expose it to products filled with chemicals. Aside from this, many women (I was one of them) also experience allergies and irritations brought on by the chemicals in disposable products. Reusables tend not to have this effect as their composition is similar to wearing everyday underwear/clothing.
They save you money
When I first began using reusable menstrual products, I did a quick calculation to try to learn how much money I could be saving now that I would no longer be purchasing disposable products. I added up that I used to spend £40 per year on menstrual products alone. I now spend nothing. Although the initial outlay for cloth pads may seem high, the costs are made back fairly quickly, depending on how much you currently spend on disposables.
You can support small businesses
The industry of cloth pads is a completely different world to that of mainstream pad and tampon manufacturers. Our world is made up of students sewing amongst their studies (i.e. me when I first started out), mums working from home while caring for their children and older ladies looking for a creative outlet. In contrast, disposable products are often made in large factories centred around churning out thousands of products an hour, making profit and taking very little interest in the issues their products contribute to (they’re not exactly helping the environment are they?). By buying cloth pads, you not only have the choice of purchasing from hand makers but also, you have the luxury of speaking to the creator of your products. This means you can often ask questions, customise products if available or learn the story behind the pads you’re buying. This service is something you simply don’t get with supermarket pads.
You’ll gain a new found respect for your body
I used to hate periods. No really, I did. The woman who’s speaking to you now, an advocate of reusable period products used to hate periods. It’s laughable right? When I switched to cloth pads, not only did I fall in love with the beautiful colours and designs but I also fell in love with the respect I gained for my body. By washing the pads after every cycle, I realised there was really nothing to be ashamed of or 'grossed out' by. By contrast, I’d spent much of my teenage years doing ‘period checks’ to ensure my girlfriends hadn’t leaked through their clothes or feeling my cheeks turn crimson handing in notes to get myself off school swimming lessons. I began to realise that our society is such that it makes you feel embarrassed about such a natural thing. By using cloth, it was almost like I respected my body for being able to cycle as it does and the petty things to be embarrassed about seemed meaningless.
I hope this little piece has enlightened you to some of the reasons for switching to cloth menstrual pads or at least giving you something to think about. If you currently use cloth pads, are there any other reasons you can think of for switching? If you don’t use reusables at the moment, why not? Have you ever had a conversation with a friend about them? Let me know in the comments!