For Women Only: thrift, peace and your monthly cycle

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.

they look kinda like slippers, don't they?

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’.

Thrift:

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!!

like this awesome J.Crew camel pea coat, wool/cashmere - $8!

Peace:

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.

has anyone ever picked cotton? this is a photo of organic cotton. i wonder what non-organic cotton looks like? 😛

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 don't know... i just can't go here...

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!

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12 Responses to For Women Only: thrift, peace and your monthly cycle

  1. Cindyloo says:

    I’ve been using the DivaCup for years and can’t imagine going back to tampons. It’s so convenient, it’s not harmful to the body or the environment and it’s cost efficient.
    As for the gross factor, let’s face it, menstruation is not for the squeamish. I don’t find a menstrual cup any more disgusting than tampons or pads and it allows me to be more aware of my cycle and any changes that might occur. And it’s more comfortable, especially for women who have painful periods. I say don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

    • AnnaM says:

      I totally agree! I love my Diva cup. And because I get major cramps, I find I can’t do the tampon thing. For an active woman, a Diva cup is a great thing.
      I get how some women stop at the gross factor but it is so tragic to me that we’ve fallen into this belief that the beautiful natural things our body does are “gross”. I like to see my period as a reminder (after the cramps) that I am a healthy woman. I have also found that there is this little community of Diva cup users, celebrating our womanhood and the natural courses it takes (Red Tent style)!

      • angelika says:

        this feedback is great – and don’t get me wrong; i don’t think that having my period is gross. I also celebrate the fact that this is part of what makes me a woman (so it’s interesting that now that i’m at the end of that part of my womanhood, how i have to adjust to new things to celebrate! hotflashes? woohoo!) it’s the end product that has the gross factor for me. if we’re going to use the poopy diaper comparison, poop is also part of what makes us healthy human beings but at the end of the day, it’s still gross!

  2. Lady Demelza says:

    Bravo for blogging about this! I first discovered cloth pads aged 17 – I’m now going on 34 and I’m so proud to say that in all those years I’ve only ever used disposable products a handful of times. Even all those years I was travelling, I would manage to soak, rinse, wash and dry my cloth pads and always returned the blood/water to the earth, thereby returning my physical nutrients and life force to the earth that gives us life. I feel very strongly about this, to the point I consider it a spiritual practise.
    On occasions, I have made gifts of handmade cloth pads, sometimes personalising them with the woman’s name in embroidery. Of course I would choose the recipient of such a gift carefully, but they have always been received with much excitement and appreciation.

    • angelika says:

      i guess it really would have to be a gift to give someone you know well. – how cool that you’ve been using these for so long! kudos to you!

  3. Cindyloo says:

    You are not at the end of your womanhood, Angelika, only in a new phase of it.

  4. And the video is back up! So glad my blog idea inspired you to blog. Well done. That’s so many more women and mom’s who can now make more pro-environmental decisions. Not to mention the benefits to your health. Ever noticed that many pads and tampons are scented? And really, you have to wash your hands anyways…
    Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green

    • angelika says:

      thanks for reposting the link – i just saw on your Facebook page that she’d accidentally deleted her link. it’s been a great discussion, eh?

  5. Megan says:

    Thanks for this post-I have been considering changes to my routine lately. I’m glad to hear from your readers about “the cup”. I think the first step is the hardest, but I’m almost there.

    • i agree that the first step is the hardest – and for me, anyway, this feels like a fairly big commitment in terms of first steps. it’s such an intimate, personal thing, so you have to be comfortable with the method and it has to work for you. but it’s so great that there’s good, environmentally friendly options out there for people to choose from.

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