There’s absolutely no doubt that the feminine hygiene industry is making big waves towards sustainability, with the arrival of 100% organic cotton tampons and the introduction of menstrual cups -- but what about the humble sanitary pad?
While it may still seem to sit on the more extreme side of sustainability, women all over the world are starting to come around to the idea of a reusable pad.
Think about it. Reusable baby nappies have enjoyed a meteoric rise in popularity over the last decade, not only for environmental reasons but for cost reasons as well. Usually, the super absorbent core is concealed by a stay-dry fabric that is totally hygienic and extremely easy to wash -- and nappies have to deal with far more problematic substances than a sanitary pad!
So, without further ado, here’s everything you need to know about reusable pads so you can see that they’re not actually that out of the box after all.
The Problem With Traditional Pads and Tampons
First things first -- what’s the problem with traditional pads and tampons, anyway?
Well, for starters, a few years ago, glyphosate made a huge splash in the news when it was reported that commercial feminine care products like disposable pads and tampons contained incredibly high levels of this terrible pesticide residue. So, women were putting one of the worst chemicals ever made into one of the most sensitive areas of the body.
The study reported their discovery that a whopping 85% of all cotton feminine products tested positive for glyphosate. In addition, 62% of the sample they used tested positive for aminomethyl phosphonic acid (AMPA), which happens to be a derivative of glyphosate.
If you aren’t exactly sure what glyphosate is, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) cancer research division has ruled it to likely be a carcinogen -- so, it’s bad news. It’s the main ingredient used in Monsanto’s widely popular weed killer, Roundup, which is widely used on staple crops, including cotton, which in many cases, is usually genetically modified and is also what conventional feminine products also happen to be made of.
The toxicity of glyphosate is nothing new, but commercial feminine care manufacturers have done an excellent job of hiding the truth from the general public. Thankfully, more reports, studies, and research are being published daily about the dangers of this terribly-toxic chemical, and the truth is becoming more well-known.
What is a Menstrual Reusable Pad?
So with all of that in mind, it’s easy to see why reusable menstrual pads have become so popular! But what exactly are they?
Reusable pads are cloth pads that can be used dozens of times. They absorb menstrual blood, and the pad should stay put for about four to five hours, depending on your menstrual flow.
After use, you need to wash the cloth really well before you can reuse the same pad. These super- pads are usually made in several absorbent layers of either cotton, hemp, or bamboo, and never any plastic.
Why Make the Switch to Reusable Pads?
In addition to the fact that a lot of ladies are exposing their lady-bits to toxic chemicals and GMOs, here are a handful of other reasons why reusable pads might be a good fit for you:
Reusable Pads Make an Environmental Impact
Did you know that a whopping 20 billion tampons, pads, and applicators are tossed into landfills every single year? The average woman will use close to 12,000 to 16,000 tampons and/or pads in her lifetime. These items are not always biodegradable and may linger on this earth for hundreds of years in the future.
Reusable Pads are Good For Your Body
Traditional disposable pads can contain plastics, artificial fragrances, chemical gels, and adhesives -- basically all the things you don’t want next to one of the most sensitive parts of your body. Reusable cloth menstrual pads like ours are free from irritating materials, so you can avoid unnecessary exposure to the synthetic ingredients commonly found in disposable pads.
Reusable Pads are Quiet
If you don’t really enjoy announcing to the world that it’s your time-of-month, you will love how quiet and discreet reusable cloth pads are. This is especially helpful for young women who have to change menstrual products in a school bathroom.
Reusable Pads Won’t Burn a Hole in Your Pocket
Once you put together your full set of reusable pads, you will have reliable menstrual protection for many years to come. Most reusable pads are made to last for five years, but many ladies report that their pads have lasted much longer! Washable pads are much more economical when compared to the cost of disposable products of your lifetime.
Think about it -- remember those 12,000 to 16,000 disposables the average woman will use? If she is buying a box of twenty pads at $5 per box, she will throw away upwards of $3,000. It’s kind of like equipping your kitchen with sparkling silverware: it would be tremendously expensive (and not to mention wasteful!) to continuously purchase disposable plasticware.
Reusable Pads are Comfortable
This benefit should probably warrant a higher placement on the list. Reusable pads are incredibly soft and comfortable. You know that itchy, uncomfortable, plastic-y feeling that comes from sitting on a disposable pad? Well, you’re in luck because it’ll be a distant memory once you switch to reusable cloth pads.
Reusable Pads are Great For Those With Sensitive Skin
Reusable pads are often chemical-free and hypoallergenic. In addition, they are usually made from cloth that is breathable, which gives your sensitive skin a chance to breathe and avoid developing a rash. The lack of bleach commonly found in traditional pads helps sensitive skin, as well.
Reusable Pads Help You to be Prepared for Every Cycle
With a stash of reusable pads, you will always have pads on hand, ready to go should your cycle appear completely out of the blue. You won’t be caught without pads, and you won’t have to make a trip to the store to get more. They are also extremely easy to transport, fitting easily in purses or totes for when you’re out in public.
How Do Reusable Pads Work?
Now that you know a few of the amazing benefits that come from switching to reusable pads, you might be wondering, how in the world do reusable pads work? We’ll tell you.
As with disposable single-use pads, you secure reusable pads to your underwear, and they absorb menstrual fluid externally -- so there isn’t much of a learning curve there.
Where they differ from the pads you are probably used to, however, is in their construction. Some pads come in two distinct parts. There is a washable holder that snaps around the crotch piece of your underwear and an absorbent pad-insert that you can easily wash, reuse, and even double up on for heavier days. Other popular styles consist of a single piece of fabric that simply snaps into your underwear that you just toss into the wash when you’re ready to clean it.
Be Honest -- Do They Smell?
The good news is reusable cloth pads tend to stay a lot fresher than disposable pads! That’s because their fabric breathes, which allows moisture to evaporate. Less moisture means fewer bacteria to produce unwanted smells.
If you do happen to notice an odd smell coming from your nether regions, common bacterial imbalances could be to blame, so it’s important to get it checked out by your doctor.
How Often Should I Change My Reusable Pad?
Everyone is different, but you will probably need to swap out your reusable pad one to six times a day. You’ll know it’s time to switch out the pad if it starts to feel a little wet next to your skin.
Naturally, the heavier your flow, the more often you will need to change pads. The lighter your flow, the longer you can get away with infrequent changing.
A Final Word
Traditional disposable pads are often made with toxic chemicals that can do quite a bit of harm to our bodies and not to mention the environment. Getting in the habit of using reusable pads may take a little bit of time, but once you get comfortable wearing them, the discomforts of traditional disposable pads will fade away, slowly becoming a distant memory.
So take care of your health today and make the switch to reusable pads like the ones from Rael.
(And on the other hand, if you’re not quite ready to make the switch, we have tried and true organic cotton pads, too.)