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BBC - The people fighting pollution with plastic-free periods

 
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I saw this article on the BBC and was impressed.
  They talk about the problem with disposable period products and the diva cup as a solution.

Personally, I find the diva cup a bit weird, but reusable cloth pads are another good option.

What other solutions are there?
Historically, a lot of women have used washable cloths to absorb blood.

Refined versions of this, in the form of reusable pads, have actually taken off as a plastic-free solution and are now being sold by retailers online.

Technological development has meant absorbent underwear has emerged as a solution. Thinx is the best known brand, partly due to a row over its provocative adverts on the New York subway system.

Their products are designed to absorb menstrual flow on light to medium days or act as a back-up method.


 
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Yeah, the cup up there wouldn't work with me, knowing myself.  The pads or underwears sounds okay... the problem is logically handling them when out and about and through the wash.  I assume that would be a separate wash, and then you'd need a separate laundry bag that would need to fill and that could take a week, which then could be pretty nasty.  And when out on the town would you take a backpack or diaper bag? Might be a little awkward...

It would be awesome if there was a little water proof reusable shell and a biodegradable insert maybe? Maybe I'm over thinking it.
 
r ranson
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For my cloth pads, I soak them for a day in cool water then toss them in the wash with the other clothing.  The rinse water washes out the stain.  The biggest problem I have with mine is that they don't dry fast enough on the line, so I end up putting them in the dryer.

If I can't wash the pads right away, I soak them for a day, then dry them until the next wash day.
 
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I save my pads up for about three days, and then wash them like I wash my daughter's diapers, except with no hot wash, because heat sets blood stains and shrinks the wool backing that I have on mine. So, basically I run a "small" load with just the pads and lots of soap, and then do a big rinse on it, to make sure the soap all gets out. I found with my kids diapers, if I don't use enough soap, they don't get clean, and if I don't rinse them enough, the soap binds to the cotton fibers and makes them less absorbent.

If I'm only gone for a few days, I'll bring all my pads and store what's been used in a "wet bag" (I have one made from PUL fiber, which I made for my son's diapers before I realized PUL was essetially plastic...). If I'm going for a long trip, I use 7th Generation Pads. But, since I don't go on a long vacation more than once per year (if that), and it's a 3/4 chance that that won't occur on my period, I don't feel too bad. In fact, I'm still using up the stash of pads I bought over 3 years ago...

I also have no desire to use a menstrual cup, nor have ever used one. I also don't like tampons--so pads are definitely it for me!
 
Nicole Alderman
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This post might be helpful for those looking to find more ecologically sound period product. Two years ago I tried to give an

overview of the various options out there

Edit: And upon reviewing that thread, I remembered that there ARE non-plastic, disposable pads. Natracare makes them. So, if I ever need to buy disposible pads, I'll be getting some of those!

Editing again: I found there's even more brands of biodegradeable pads, though Naturacare does have the largest selection (they even have postpartum liners--oh how I wish I knew about those a year and a half ago. I'd bought the 7th Generation overnight pads, as I was familiar with them and knew them to be absorbant. I also worked really hard to NOT work so I could heal up, and ate lots of vitamin K rich foods. With my son, I'd bled for probably over a month, with heavy bleeding. With my daughter, I was done bleeding heavy after three or four days, and done bleeding entirely in a few weeks).

Anyway, here's the other biodegradable pads. Hopefully I'll be able to edit this again to add in descriptions, but for now, it's bedtime, so I'll just give you the links (I'm linking to their heavy pads, though they have other types as well):

  • Organyc
  • Sakhi--avaiable in India, not America
  • Honest Company
  • Oi 100% Organic Pads
  • Rael--not 100% positive that these are biodegradable. Company states that it's COTTON is 100% biodegradable--no mention of the liner on the back
  •  
    steward
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    Gotta speak up for menstrual cups - they are awesome!
    Mine (a Diva cup) is made of silicone and can be used and reused for years, probably decades.  
    You have to fold it to insert it, and then I recommend twirling it to make sure you have it well placed, but that's it!
    In a small bathroom, it's easy to rinse out, if you have to empty it in a bathroom stall you just wipe it out with toilet paper.
    No big whoop.
     
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    I use just about everything, except pads: yuck! Guess it takes all kinds, huh?

    My main method is tampons. For years I used o.b., until on this very forum, I think it was Jocelyn who pointed out that the ingredients openly include polyester, and I suddenly realised that those little squares of white non-woven fabric I was pulling out of the toilet manure all these years were not from volunteers using disposable hand-wipes, but from me! Oops!

    So I buy two brands of all-cotton organic tampons in the US, Seventh Generation and Natracare organic tampons. Such luxury to just drop tampons right down the composting toilet. I can tell you what that tiny 5th pocket on jeans is for: it's for plastic tampon wrappers!

    But the all-cotton tampon brands don't come in the "ultra" size that o.b. offers so I was getting some leakage, so I also bought "period panties."

    Period Panties (big black panties with a triple layer in the middle panel) are great for that little extra leak when using a less than optimal solution, or shoulder days, or when you expect your period. I wouldn't rely on them as the sole method through a period, but they're great for allowing a little first leak to warn you to run to the bathroom without fear of leaking out onto clothing.

    I wash period panties in the sink when I get home: rinse as throughly as possible, then apply whatever bar soap is around and scrub the cloth against itself vigorously. Then rinse again, wring out as hard as possible (really put your back into it), snap out hard so that it will dry soft and straight, and hang. Doesn't take but a minute or three, especially if on the same day.

    I bought a pack of "Keepers" years ago, which were an earlier version of menstrual cups. They have strict warnings not to reuse them but of course I do, and one pack has lasted at least ten years. When I'm travelling in other parts of India where water toilets and especially squat toilets are the norm, cups are the best: nothing to throw away, water available, and squatting is the best position for pulling these out and washing them. I don't feel I'd like to just wipe it with paper and stick it back in, though. There's always one in my travelling bag so that at least I have that even if I haven't carried enough tampons. I don't use it much in Ladakh, where there aren't many water toilets.
     
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    I use the Diva cup and I love it. However, I bleed quite heavily and it sometimes leaks a bit before I can make it to the toilet.

    I hate all of the pads on the market presently. I am working towards being "money-free" (that's what my husband and I call the week after payday and we are trying to get to the point where we don't need to work 40 hour weeks), so I am unwilling to spend on the expensive organic cotton pads on the market. Plastic is also brutal against the sensitive skin there, so I have sworn off the junk thin pads in the grocery store.

    I learned from some Amish friends that you can use washcloths or hand towels instead. Because I use the Diva cup, I very rarely bleed through the towel. Yeah, the hand towels are a little diaper-feeling, but I live in the middle of nowhere (BFE), so don't care what I look like. I use them in the day or so before my flow is serious enough to use the cup. That way, I'm ready for a sudden gush, if it comes.

    And because they are washcloths (or even bits of old towels--I use dark colors), I don't have to suffer the responsibility of staining some adorable pattern on some cloth pad lovingly made by a woman who thinks I want Siamese cats on the fabric of my pad. Okay, maybe rude, but I am deeply practical.

    As mentioned by others, I rinse them out after I take them off and wash them with my other clothes. Never had an issue and I've been doing this for 7 years or so.

    Also, I do not have running water, so this can all be done being a water miser. I don't actually rinse my Diva cup every time I use it. I don't have water in my composting outhouse, so I wash it at the end of the day in my wash basin. I know that is not suggested, but, again, I have been doing this for a very long time and I have never had any trouble.

    In living close to the land, I have become very comfortable with my menses.
     
    pollinator
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    Menstrual blood is good for plants. Historically it was used that way.
     
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    It took me a long time to get into washable cloth pads and Diva-type cups. But now that I have I wish I could go back in time to give myself a good motivational push to do it years sooner. Not only do I find the cloth pads completely comfortable compared to the adhesive plastic mess of the store-bought, my skin is also much happier.

    Cups:

    For cups I went with a few eBay cheapies that reported their product as medical silicone. The cheapies are a good way to trial different sizes and shapes without breaking the bank. Then you can invest in a similar expensive type if you wish.

    My learning curve for wearing the cups was 1 - 2 periods with the placing of the cup being the most troublesome. But once you get the knack of placing the cup correctly and comfortably (if you can't you likely don't have the right size or shape cup for you, try another) everything is awesome.

    Fabric pads:

    For the fabric pads, I chose a PUL layer on outside and Zorb 3D Bamboo Dimple Fabric 1 - 3 layers on the inside. The Zorb allows a really nice thin but highly absorbent pad.  For the PUL and Zorb layers I chose those with Silvadur for reduced bacterial issues. I chose flax linen for the top layer. I'm a huge flax linen fan and prefer it over any other fabric (don’t use fabric softener with).

    You can make your own choices. And maybe that is totally recycling fabric items in your home at no extra expense. And that is extremely satisfying. Me I went with pricier fabrics for the thinness and bacterial reduction action, but at this point in my life I am able to do that. A much younger poorer me would have recycled. I'd have gone with fleeces and cottons from my recycled clothes. Though I likely would have still paid out for the PUL waterproof fabric backing to prevent leaks.

    For the pattern I went with Etsy seller Versodile. She's got a ton of different patterns, so you're sure to find your favourite. She offers free and for a fee. I recommend making a few different types after you watch some Youtube vids on the topic of making the pads. Versodile has an awesome one. Trial-wear your pad prototypes. Then once you have developed your favourites make a bunch of them.

    TIPS:
  • I did find I needed a longer pad than my usual store-bought for light days because the cloth did slide a bit compared to the adhesive type. So instead of 7", the 9" length was perfect.
  • For a nighttime heavy flow I went with 14", with 2 layers of Zorb on the outer areas and 3 at the middle.
  • Weirdly once I had the cloth pads all worked out and then trialed the cups, I realized I likely didn't need a 14" night pad anymore because the cup took care of so much.
  • ItsJustKelli is a great Youtuber to watch for her trials and reviews of all the reusable menstrual products on the market.
  • ItsJustKelli also gives the tip that if you think you've lost the cup up inside, simply squat down and give a bit of a push to make the pull-out-tab reachable.


  • I really like the fabric layers that I chose for my pads. The pads are not thick or lumpy. They dry quite quickly when washed. And everything holds together really well. My periods now are totally comfortable instead of that awful fidgety with plastic and adhesives sticking to me awkwardly making me and my skin unhappy. And with the cups I don't worry about the bleed through issues that look like a murder scene.

    So don’t YOU delay. Get on it right now so you too can much happier during your periods. And self-sufficient. Because you’ll never have to buy commercials anymore. And no waste, no garbage. It's the coolest feeling to know you are not contributing to that mess anymore.
     
    Viola Bluez
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    Whose a happy camper in the airport with an unexpected need for menstrual products and was carrying just in case! Totally awesome to have a cup and cloth pad along. Saved me at least one arm or leg trying to purchase emergency pads and tampons in the airport.
     
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    My friend is pregnant and i want to know that is it ok to give her coconut water during periods. I read about it at https://menstrual-cycle-calculator.com/coconut-water-during-periods/
     
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    Haven't purchased actual feminine hygiene products since 2006.  I have tried cloth pads, and the diva cup.  The cloth pads are ok, I found they leaked during activity and were a bit of a pain to use at work, so I went to using them only for sleeping, and used the diva cup during the day.  I was ok with the cup in for up to 12 hours at a time at first, but at some point I realized that the cup was actually affecting my digestion... I have very sensitive intestines and can't wear anything tight, and this is going to sound quite strange but the cup was actually causing trouble to pass gas, which left me uncomfortably bloated by the end of the day.  To be honest, I have used mostly folded paper towels for quite a while, using the cup to go swimming and cloth pads sometimes at night.  At least the paper towels are completely biodegradable.  I take two off-brand "select-a-size", fold it into a square, then fold two opposite corners into the middle so it's long but thick in the middle where it needs to be, and just put it in place.  At some point I will try making my own cloth pads instead of the ones I purchased and see if I can make something that works better for me, maybe with a removable thicker portion so it doesn't leak through.  In early menopause and my periods are not predictable in heaviness anymore.
     
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    I'm FINALLY on the trail end of this issue. Haven't had to use anything, since early April, and before that, it was the previous June. It's truly a relief, to me, but since it's been less than a year, I'm not trusting it! So, I've hung onto my cups. I have one to wear, and a spare - and can't tell you how many times I've been grateful for that spare! I used to use tampons, and could never stand pads. O.B. was my choice, thinking 'yay! All cotton, no applicator, minimal wrapping, easy to carry discretely... then the truth came out. UGH!! I switched to the cup, and never looked back. Even now, anywhere I'm going to go overnight or longer, I have one packed in my go bag. It took a little getting used to, but I'm very glad to have persevered. They saved me a lot of money, gave me immeasurable freedom, saved who knows how many pounds of waste, in the landfills &/or sewage treatment filters, plus, easy to clean, even easier than the o.b. to carry/hide, and, if it did fall out of a bag, onto the floor, it was tied in a cute little cotton bag.
    Hubs & I have 3 adult daughters, between us. One is a devout pads girl, one is a tampon girl (whom I'm going to keep hoping will switch, but not pestering about it), and the youngest is a cup girl.
     
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