Trying to find non-toxic feminine hygiene products ain't easy, either, but it's definitely worth it. When I switched from Always to 7th Generation (which is not organic, but does have less other chemicals), I had a drastic reduction in cramps, and that was the only variable I changed.
Since I spent a lot of time researching pads, I thought I'd compile the research here, so others do not have to do as much leg work!
If you want disposable pads, Natracare looks like a really great option, though I've never tried them. They have organic and compostable options.
And, like I mentioned, there's also Seventh Generation, which can be bought at Fred Meyers (which comes in handy when you're traveling and find out that you unexpectedly need some!). They have a wheat-based absorbanct layer, plastic backing, and unbleached fibers.
If you want to buy and wash your own pads, there's a LOT of options out there. The main thing to look at is what they have as a backing, and what they have touching the skin. A lot of them have PUL (Polyurethane Laminate) backing, which is what a lot of cloth diapers are made from. It's waterproof and durable, but it does not breath terribly well. Other's have just a cotton backing, which would be more prone to leaking, and others use wool (my preferred option).
As for the fabric touching the skin, that ranges from cotton to bamboo/rayon to polyester.
They also come in an insane range of prices, from about $3/pad to $20/pad. Here's some of them:
Charlie Banana: PUL backing with polyester touching the skin. I actually purchased some of these to make my own pattern, and they are rather comfortable (you don't feel wet) and wash up really well; the stains come right off! Not the most environmentally friendly or non-toxic, but they do work well! Currently 3/$18.
Heart Felt Bamboo These also have PUL backing, with (non-organic) cotton touching the skin and bamboo charcoal inside (somehow?). I actually also purchased these, too, because they were 5 for $23 at the time (now they're $32 for five). They don't work that well, as they kind of stick to you during use, and the pad doesn't fold right so that the PUL ends up being exposed and getting stained.
Luna Pads One of the biggest names in the "Mama Cloth" movement. I've not used these, as they are expensive. They have 100% organic cotton options, with cotton pads and liners. You strap in pads under the liners to add absorbency. These are about $20 per pad and liner.
Glad Rags The other really big name in menstrual cloths. They are also organic cotton with separate liners and inserts to adjust how much absorbency you need. (I'm getting rather tired of typing absorbency!). They are about $19 per liner and two inserts.
Just Fussy These are the ones, if I were to buy any more pads, that I would buy. They have organic wool backing for odor reduction, waterproofing, and moisture wicking. They have lots of choices of sizes and colors with organic cotton or bamboo fabric touching the skin. They've got "All-in-One" pads, as well as liners with inserts. They're about $15 per all-in-one pad, or $12 per pad+liner.
What I ended up doing was making my own pads by felting up an old wool sweater and using that to make the backing, and using cotton flannel from receiving blankets and scraps to line the side facing me. I used the same cotton to add extra layers of absorbency, though I'm finding that the more layers I put in the pad, the harder it is to get it all the way clean (in much the same way that flat diapers are a whole lot easier to clean than All-in-One diapers). The wool does a great job of absorbing fluid and keeping it from staining the underware. I've had one leak year I've been using them, and that was on my heaviest day.If anyone wants a tutorial on how I make mine, I can try and throw one together, especially since I'm in the process of making some more pads. There are a lot of pads patterns out there, though, as well as tutorials. Or, you can just make one based off of an disposable pad.
Here's a rather nice tutorial:
http://www.naturalsuburbia.com/2011/07/cloth-pad-tutorial.html, and it's pretty much how I make mine. Sometimes I use the wool for the back of the "pad base," and other times I put it inside the "Inner pad." The great thing about making your own pads is that you can totally adjust the pattern, amount of filler, and materials to meet your flow's needs.
The other main option out there is menstrual cups. I've never used these, just like I've never used tampons (putting things up there to catch flow that I can't see just doesn't appeal to me). But, a lot of people really like them, and they are very environmentally friendly as you just have to buy one or two and wash them. Some people use them with a washable pad, in case of leaks.
Diva Cup Made by the same people as the luna pads, this is the biggest name I see in menstrual cups. It's silicone, and it comes in two sizes: pre-childbirth and after-childbirth. It's about $40 per cup.
Moon Cup Supposedly the most popular one (according to their website), it's also made of silicone, comes in two sizes, and costs about $35.
The Keeper Made of natural rubber, supposedly lasts about 10 years, comes in two sizes, and costs $35. I just found out about this while researching the other ones.
Sea Pearls. Made from natural atalantic sea sponges and come in three sizes and two different textures. Lasts about 8 hours, then can be washed and reused for six months. I guess they don't have an extraction line, so they can be hard to retrieve... Costs about $21 per 2-3 sponges (depending on size) and $24 for their "ultra soft" sponges.
There are also tampons made by Seventh Generation and Ultra care, both are 100% organic cotton (why doesn't 7th Generation make organic pads?!). They're prices vary by size, with different sizes having different amounts per package. Without doing all the math, they appear to be priced about the same.
And, of course, there are a LOT of different brands and types of pads and cups than are even listed here. A quick search on amazon or google will show up an insane amount of options, but I hope I was able to help a little in wading through all different types!
An interesting option that I hadn't known about. Do you know what all their layers are made out of? All I can find out is that they use some nylon/spandex, some cotton (not specified as organic, though I wonder if the pesticides will wash out?), and some anti-microbial silver, with unspecified "technology" between those layers...
The interior of the underwear is antimicrobial cotton, which includes an application of silver. All the other technology is between the cotton interior layer and the nylon/spandex exterior layer. This way, your undies look sexy but feel safe!
So, I guess it ends up being a question of what you're looking for. They're probably much more comfortable and convenient than many other options, and perhaps easier than some to maintain, and may make your period feel less ugly, but may be slightly more toxic. I wonder if someone has made something similar but with organic cotton and wool, etc?