Yes, really. So I follow the Queen of Green – a blog from the David Suzuki Foundation. Thursday (February 16) on Facebook, she posted a link to a video on how to make your own feminine pads. Strangely enough, the video was no longer available at the end of the day, but if you put “sew your own maxi pads” into the youtube browser, you’ll find a myriad of videos that show you how to make these.
The link garnered quite a bit of conversation on FB – everything from “gross – I draw the line at poopy diapers” to “there’s nothing gross about having your period.” I fall somewhere in the middle there. To be frank, I’m at the point in my life where feminine pads are basically no longer a necessity. That doesn’t mean I’ve never thought about using cloth pads; I have but could never quite get myself there. But I also didn’t know as much about the environmental impact of disposable pads and tampons as I do now, so even though it isn’t a product I have much use for, I’m blogging about it because I think it’s a very applicable thrift and peace topic – and hey, they don’t call me Thrift Shopper for Peace, for nothin’.
Let’s say the average cost of a package of maxi pads is $5 for a package of 24 pads. Going purely by my own experience, one package would last me for, say, 2 cycles. So in a year, at that price, I’d spend $30 a year on maxi pads. I first started my cycle when I was 12, this year I’ll be 48; subtracting the years I was pregnant and nursing… that takes me to about 33 years of menstruation. That means in those 33 years, I spent about $1060 on pads. (Gee, that was an interesting exercise!) Now, I’m the only female in my house; if I’d have had daughters, that cost would have risen. Thirty dollars a year doesn’t seem like a lot of money in the grand scheme of things but just think what I could have bought at a thrift shop for $30!!
The greater argument for me, were I to be considering this now, would be the peace perspective: peace with the environment. I had no problem using cloth diapers and on a gross scale, those were right up there with cloth maxi-pads. I used cloth in order to keep the plastic and chemicals out of the land fill. According to this blog, a baby uses an average of 2255 diapers in one year. Based on my calculation above, I used 144 maxi pads a year – but while a child might be potty trained by, say, age 3 and therefore has used 6765 diapers in that time, I used 4752 over 33 years. That’s still a lot of gross plastic, chemical and bio-waste in a landfill!
On top of that, both diapers and pads/tampons are often made from cotton grown with pesticides and treated with bleaching chemicals and toxic fragrances that you don’t want near that delicate part of your body.
If I could use cloth diapers, why not maxi-pads? I don’t know! It just seems… unpleasant. But I think if I was given the opportunity to try one now, I’d definitely try it. Those who use them say they’re easy to clean and comfortable to wear; who knows?
Another Thrift/Peace Option:
I have a friend who uses a Diva Cup – a silicone cup that is inserted into your vagina to capture menstral fluid which is then emptied into the toilet. She swears by it. I could never get my head around that – for the same reason that I could never get my head around using tampons. (If you’re really dying to know why I never used tampons, email me and I’ll tell you.) But honestly, this seems to be the most environmentally friendly option out there for women because it is small, would take less water to clean than even a cloth maxi-pad and less soap.
So there you go. I can’t wait to hear what you are all going to have to say about this. (Men, feel free to weigh in here. I dare you.) by the way, The Queen of Green will have a Diva Cup giveaway on her blog on Monday (February 20 – note this correction!) You win it, test it, and i’ll interview you!