Thursday, January 20, 2011

Menstrual Pads - say it loud!

Since I have started working in the area of waste education I look at things differently. I went to a waste conference in September and was struck by all the speakers showing graphs going up exponentially showing increased population, increased tonnage to landfill, increased distances to travel to landfill sites...increased disaster! EK! It was a real eye opener so I started to take note of what we chuck out at home. We compost, worm farm or feed the chooks all our organics which normally makes up about 60% of the average green bin, and our recycling service in the Southern Metro Regional Council is very good too, so what little we do have is pretty much all recycled. But it turns out that once a month our contribution to landfill increases exponentially too. Around the time I menstruate. Hm. A coincidence? I think not. I did a little research and this is what I read:
  • An average woman will use around 9,000 pads/tampons in her life. This equates to about six shopping trolleys worth. 
  • We spend around $4,500 on pads/tampons in our lives 
  • Pads take about 800 years to break down (nappies which are made of essentially the same thing take 1000 years - I guess just because they are bigger)
  • Our genital tissue is highly sensitive and can absorb chemicals readily into the body
  • Pads contain dioxins which are known human carcinogens. 

Geez, I thought. I also wondered what it would be like if I had to deal with my six trolleys worth of pads on site, like, what if they weren't whisked off to landfill every month? What if all women had to do that? So, what would we do? We'd rag it up just like our grannies did. So I sewed up some pads on mum's kitchen table out of an old nappy (I did cloth nappies for my son, but not for my pads - crazy hu?), some old wiggles PJ's (I don't know who the yellow wiggle is but he cops it every month) and an old poncho for waterproofing. I have done a couple of designs and found that a simple 'winged' version with press studs to secure them to your knickers is best. They work perfectly. Heaps more comfy than disposable pads and just as absorbent. I feel like I have been completely ripped off and sucked in by bloody (excuse the pun) disposable pad making companies for the last 15 years! 

I had shared my new washable pad experience with a few friends who wanted to make some too, so we had a little workshop on the weekend. It was great because everyone made a slightly different version to suit them and Shani had some fancy waterproof material used for pads and nappies which worked really well (it was fabric was called fabrite -plain poly 2 MIL PUL from Nappies Covered.

  Here we are cutting out...

...and chatting about our first period...

sewing them up 
(if you look closely you will see a wrist strap pin cushion thing. We were all jealous.)

and the finished product!

It was a most satisfying day and now we all can't wait to get our periods!

It's easy to make you're own, just take the shape from a disposable pad you like. I use a winged version. Cut out one piece of fleecy PJ fabric in the pad shape for the layer closest to your bits, then a strip of toweling (two layers thick if you like) and then one piece of water proofy fabric in the pad shape (or you can use another piece of fleecy fabric if you don't want a plasticy layer) then sew them all together. I didn't do a proper hem, just zig zag around the edge. Sew the press studs on the edge of the wings and Bob's your uncle. But if you can't be bothered sewing some you can either stuff a flannel in your knickers (which reportedly works pretty well) or you can buy them pre-made. Scarlet Eve is a local business who makes nice ones and there are heaps of other sellers online.

After you use them just soak them in cold water and wash with your next normal load. You can pour the bloody water on your garden too.Why wouldn't you!? (Well I could go on here about taboos and hangovers from a misogynistic society but I'll save that rant...) 

1 comment:

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