Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Reusable Sanitary Napkins?


I've heard about them many years ago, and the thought of them seemed rather foreign to me. Why would I want to reuse napkins? Most of us are accustomed to the disposable kind. The [un]winged, dry-weft variety found in packs of 16+(generally). Scented or non-scented. The kind we were introduced to as preteens(or older) to handle that monthly, uninvited visitor. :P

Using and throwing them away was and is still considered "normal".

But as I've gotten older and more cognizant of how much we waste on a daily basis, I realized how much of a carbon footprint we're leaving and have looked into ways to minimize waste and actually save myself some money in the process.

One of these discoveries involves reusable sanitary napkins. Now, I haven't tried them YET, although I have used the tampon alternative, "The Diva Cup", which takes some getting used to. :P But the benefits definitely outweigh any doubt, so I see me giving them a try in the near future.

Store-bought napkins are made with chemically processed and bleached cotton and other additives that generally serve to increase their absorption. But because the genital area is sensitive, it can also absorb those chemicals and potentially cause issues and/or discomfort. They also tend to harbor bacteria, which again, can cause issues that need not be named here. We know what's up. lol

So, what are the benefits of using cloth/bamboo sanitary napkins? According to Greenyour.com

  • Reusable menstrual pads made of cloth will help lessen your contribution to the landfill each month.
  • They avoid the production of plastics and other chemicals found in conventional pads and tampons. While many of these are incinerated at landfills, a large percentage can still pass through sewage treatment plants, ending up in oceans, littering beaches, and harming wildlife.
  • Because cloth/bamboo napkins are made of natural materials, and not of polyethylene(which is one component of napkins and tampons), it results in less production of the plastic, which reportedly contributes to global warming and ozone depletion, and emits sulfur and nitrogen oxides, which can contribute to acidification.
  • It minimizes instances of infections often made worse(or caused) by the use of disposable napkins, like fungal infections, because it provides the genital area breathability, which decreases likelihood of bacteria growth. Bamboo, which is used in the making of some cloth napkins, is a natural antimicrobial, which prevents bacteria growth.
  • And one of the most OBVIOUS benefits....less money spent on purchasing disposables down the line, as the "life span" of good cloth napkins is up to 5 years with proper care.
Now, some of you may be scrunching your faces up at the thought of having to clean these things, or at the process of cleaning them. You may even be asking, "How would I go about cleaning them anyway?"

One good example I can give involves babies and cloth diapers. For many mommies, they prefer using cloth diapers because it's less expensive. The same process used for cleaning diapers is NO different than cleaning napkins.

Here's the process(provided by Fresh Moon):
  • Rinse pads in cold water and store in a small pail. One option to prevent stains from setting in is to apply oxygen bleach or Bac Out to stained areas.
  • At the end of your cycle or when you are in need of fresh pads, do a cold rinse followed by a hot wash. Use about 1/4 of the detergent as these fabrics are very absorbent and will be difficult to rinse thoroughly if you use too much detergent.
  • Add oxygen bleach, Tea Tree Oil or Bac Out to your wash cycle to help prevent stains.
  • We recommend an extra rinse cycle to assure that all of the detergent is removed. Residue may cause skin irritations and/or absorbency issues.
  • TIP! If you are washing cloth diapers, throw your pads in with Baby's loads and save time, money, energy and water!
Oh, and did I mention that you can order them in all types of cool designs? So, if you're worried about stains, you can purchase darker prints and colors.

Still not convinced? It's not a problem. I wouldn't expect anyone to be gun-ho with the whole process if it's something new. But it's definitely something to consider, no?

Here you can find some sellers of handmade napkins on Etsy:

Naturally Hip

Yurt Craft

Moms Crafts 4 U

Homestead Emporium

And here are a few online retailers:

Luna Pads

Glad Rags


So, have any of my Naturalistas tried any of these brands, or reusable napkins? What are or have been your experiences with them?


Kendra said...

Hi there... I never knew this was possible. It sounds interesting but at the same time it is really hard to wrap my mind around this. I will check ur links out :)

KP said...

It does take some getting used to. But if you REALLY think about it, how did out grandmothers and great-grandmothers deal with it? They didn't use disposables! LOL!

It's foreign to most of us because we're accustomed to convenience and easy accessible/easy to throw away options.

This is just NOW another option....again. ;)

ChocolateOrchid said...

Thanks for this post! I would also have to wrap my mind around using these-at least changing from the normal pad usage. But I'm definitely interesting in trying them out. I've used the Diva Cup and wish I could've continued using it but it was putting pressure on my bladder.

Thanks again for this info.

KP said...

There are other types of "cups" besides the Diva. You just have to find which one works best for you as I found the Diva cup a bit uncomfortable myself. lol

There's the Instead Softcup (http://www.softcup.com/), the Keeper and Keeper Mooncup (http://www.thekeeperstore.com/), the Lunette (http://www.lunette.com.au/), etc. And then you have sea sponge tampons. There are a lot of options. :)

KP said...

Actually, I have to correct my self. It was the Instead Cups that were uncomfortable. lol

Mimi said...

My mother told me when she was growing up she used cloth for her periods, so this is not a new concept just foreign to our way of thinking because we are so used to disposables. She showed me once how they were worn...not pretty. These options you've shown in the links are much more do-able....in theory. Hahahaa! Let us know if you try it.

Vida Starr said...

I'm kind of lazy so the stress of having to constantly clean the damn things keeps me from even considering it. Also, what about women with extremely heavy periods? Who wants to have to change and wash their pad every 20 minutes?

KP said...

You don't use the same pad throughout your period, Vida! LOL! You buy multiple pads, with multiple absorbency levels. :) They don't come in just one size. I just posted examples of them(for regular and medium flow days. ;)

Many of these reusables were created by women who had heavy periods after childbirth, so you can find absorbencies made to accommodate heavy flow as well.

It's basically the same way you'd buy different absorbency levels with disposables(if you do that). It's not any different, besides cleaning them.

But if you're someone that doesn't like to clean(or wash clothes, ;)), it would DEF be an adjustment. *wink*

tiff said...

i use reusable pads from lunapads and the mpower cup.

theres a live journal menstrual cup forum that compares types and user reviews to help anyone find the best options.
i love using them and wouldn't have it any other way.

when i moved i packed my lunapads and cup away. period came early and had to use crap from the store i nearly cried it was so gross.