Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ban the Bag

There's been a lot in the news lately about the impact of pl-st-c bags on the environment.

It's the bag's birthday it seems.

Today's news was also about the rubbish thrown up on the island of Midway and the dangers they hold for the albatrosses which mistake the the likes of disposable pl-st-c cigarette lighters for food.

Then we saw footage of some rubbish taken out of a chick and it turned out to be the plastic net-bags that supermarkets put their fruit in, still attached to a display 'hook'.

Elsewhere in cyberspace I caught up with a recent story of how pl-st-c bags are not the cause of injury to marine life, that a report had been misquoted, and that it is fishing nets that cause these injuries, etc, etc.

Perhaps. But we are against p. bags not only because of marine life, but that a massive amount is sent to landfill. Not just bags, but the rest of single-use pl-st-c packaging that drives us mad.

People shopped and did OK before the invention of pl-st-c bags and will continue to do so. So, why the controversy? Why the debate?


Lots of people with vested interests, those who manufacture and market these products. They need to save their jobs.

Back to Organic-Ally.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Converting to Cloth (Day Six)

Wednesday: a bit hectic.

Had to wait for fruit delivery.

Then went to check out storage facilities for my stock.

Back home to prepare parcel for dispatch.

Son had his school cross-country.

Got to the recreation ground after the post office stop just in time for son's race (Forms I and II) to start. They had to do two laps of, I don't know, about 250m, perhaps. Not quite cross-country, but a resonable distance for seven and eight-year-olds.

In this instance they were competing against the Form IIs (age eight-plus) some of whom were very nearly ten years old (if they turned nine early in the school year).

Son came in 13th, a very pleasing result as far as I am concerned.

Then it was off to local store to buy hot cross buns for our fellowship group this evening.

The evening ended quite late but cloth is not presenting any problems.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Converting to Cloth (Day Five)

Tuesday: I am forgetting that I am using cloth.

Changed pad and liner in the morning. Soaked other pad and liner while I went off to church to help run an Easter party.

Washed the pad and liner with some bedding, son's swim towel, etc. Nothing to it. (Everything came up clean despite it being still 'stained' pre-wash.)

Carried on pretty much as usual. Deadly boring.

Am I converted?

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Converting to Cloth (Day Four)

Monday: back at school, office, etc for all.

Long liner feeling a bit bulky. Soaked it and swopped for a clean regular liner.

School 'run' -- walk in my case. Waited around to check with the new chairman that she's OK with the Easter Egg Hunt tomorrow. Also handed over a special fruit bar for boy with severe food allergies.

Back home to prepare address labels for all the parcels to go later this afternoon. Oops! time to move on to H's house.

Prayer meeting with my ladies in the morning. So many health and homelessness issues to pray over.

Back home for a few minutes. Printed the delivery orders. Oops! time to go meet Liz at the coffee place. It was her birthday yesterday and her day off today.

Had a nice chinwag for about two hours! Discovered that I had suffered a big spurt while enjoying my chat. Pad had been stained.

Back home. Filled orders. Post Office run (ie walk).

Back home. School run (ie walk).

After dinner, swopped a new pad and liner. No major issues with the cloth pad.

Did post on my RGS forum and still awaiting more of what the 'girls' have to say about pre-disposable pads sanpro.

Basically, the thought of reusable cloth sanpro is quite repulsive. I don't blame them, for various cultural reasons. Washing out bloody pads is also not practical in Singapore when every single drop of water is metered and had to be paid for. Someone noted that she hasn't even got a proper place to dry her clothes.

Nearly bed-time now. Waiting for washing cycle to complete in order to hang out son's towel and my other 'liner'.

Cloth has been good to me. So far.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Converting to Cloth (Day Three)

Sunday: Liner was as I left it last night when I went to bed. Unusual as days two and three are often 'heavy' days.

Some cloth users have noted that their periods get lighter. I cannot see the logic in this. I suspect -- and I could be wrong -- cloth-users take precautionary measures to prevent staining and go to the loo more often. We bleed directly into the bowl and so the pads seem less stained and the periods lighter.

Any way decided that I will use the smaller 'regular' pad with the longer liner. I folded it in such a way -- I prefer to hide the edging in whatever way possible -- that I basically have about four layers of thickness. Looked a bit bulky. Wondered if it would show underneath the trousers. My boys tell me it's alright.


8.45pm: Bleeding had gone all quiet it seems. Tiny spotting. That's all. I cannot believe it. This is Day Three!!

By the way I left the long liner and pad soaking while we were at church. Tried cleaning off the stains with soap after lunch. Staining still bad, so soaped the worst stains by rubbing the stains with the bar of soap like an eraser until the white foaming of the soap blanked out the stain. Threw the pad and liner back in the 'bucket'.

A couple of hours later, retrieved these, rinsed them out and put them in the regular wash (40 degree) with the household laundry. Both came out spotless. Marvellous.

Back to Organic-Ally.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Converting to Cloth (Day Two)

Saturday: Disaster struck in the middle of the night.

I felt a spurt and knew I was 'flooding'. But I've also learned over the years that this was not a good time to get to the loo. I had to let the flow settle a little.

When I did -- 2.45am -- the liner was amazingly not totally covered in blood as expected, but part of the pad was stained and blood had flowed onto the knickers down one side. I must have been lying on my (right) side when the spurt occurred.

Drat! I thought. Does this mean that cloth is not for me? But as I examined the 'damage', I realised that this would have happened even if I was wearing a disposable maternity pad.

When lying on one's side there is no way that any pad would absorb the flow quickly enough before it runs off the surface.

Removed the 'regular' liner and let it soak in my new little bin (the one with feet). Re-arranged the bottom 'long liner' in clean underwear and went back to bed.

Between then and dawn I felt a few more spurts of blood and imagined that I would be in a total mess again. When I had a chance to check, the knickers were to my absolute surprise still clean. However the back end of the liner had folded over and was stained. This could have been easily avoided.

Stretching out the liner I discovered that I still had one clean 'panel' (the liner had been folded into five layers). So I rearranged this and re-inserted it into the pad to give me another dry surface.

I could really do with changing the pad at this point. But since I only had one of this size I couldn't. Mental note: at least two pads needed.

My flow is normally heaviest on the second day. About 10.30am I changed the 'long' liner for a new one.

The 'regular' one which had been soaking in cold water was washed out. The easiest way to get stains out seems to be to rub bar soap into it. The flannel is quite thick and rubbing in reaches out to every molecule of dirt. Then I used my thumb to go over the area until the stain goes and rinsed it out. It went onto a radiator to dry.

Since then we've been to the visiting French Market, had lunch, and now I am going to have a little rest from writing.


3.50pm: Felt big spurt as I started preparing a cake. Just put the cake in the oven now. Liner is wet, but not leaking. Knickers still clean. A-may-zing! In between I'd also been trying to find out as much as possible about what women think of washable pads.

Looks like opinion is divided. There are those who cannot sing its praises any louder, and there are those who way, "Yeuk!" and won't budge from that position.


We were all tired and decided to go to bed about 9pm. Re-arranged the liner again for a dry surface before going to bed.

Husband and I are serving communion at church tomorrow. Do I use a cloth liner and risk an accident, or shall I use cloth in faith?

Back to Organic-Ally.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Converting to Cloth (Day One)

Before bed I noticed I was spotting. Usually I would stick on a regular pad, knowing that the flow will not be heavy.

So, took the pad out, and thought: hang on a minute, what about the cloth one?

Retrieved a regular 'liner', folded it into four-layer thickness and inserted it into a 'long' pad.

Took care to wrap my sarong round me in bed just in case there is a leak.

Friday morning: liner was quite clean, surprised. Swopped the near-spotless pad onto new knickers. The Bridget Jones pants will do better. (Had a disposable pad been used, the near-spotless pad would not have stuck onto clean knickers. Yes, it would have been binned/landfilled.)

Now I have a hectic morning. Do I really want to rely on cloth? Decided to stick at it, but put a disposable pad in my bag just in case I needed it and also found a little pl-st-c bag to store the used cloth liner.

That was 6.30 in the morning. It's 1.45pm and my liner is spotted but still relatively clean. This is because I seem to spurt blood only when I go to the loo, and I had gone several times since this morning. (Our body retains water before the onset of periods. Perhaps I am losing more water once the period started. Apart from my drinking lots of water.)

I also went and bought me a little container with a lid. It also has 'feet'. At the library the librarian spotted this thing with 'feet' in my string bag.

"Any why do you have that thing on you?"

"Do you really want to know?" I wondered how she would have responded if I told her about my switching to cloth sanpro.

Thankfully she politely said, "Perhaps not."

Will break now for some lunch.

What a coincidence that I bought a 'foot bowl' (see previous post) with feet on it!


Bed-time: By 7pm the liner was still fairly clean. I decided that I would add a 'long' liner underneath the 'regular' one before going to bed.

The regular was re-folded so that I had a dry surface.

To bed.

Back to Organic-Ally.

Converting to Cloth (Intro)

So us women send more sanpro (sanitary protection) to landfills than babies do nappies. 17,000 in one life-time has been the oft-quoted figure.

Hmm. Must do something about that.

But I've had many excuses for not doing what seems eco-logical:

  1. My periods are very heavy since the birth of my child.
  2. Heavy periods means lots of washable pads and therefore lots of headache.
  3. I am nearly menopausal (the popular description these days is 'peri-menopausal') and do not have many more years of using disposables.

At the same time there is one pressing reason to convert: even brand-name pads start to chafe after a while, so sensitive is my skin.

Nosing around the internet once more on the subject it was clear that any inner protection is not my style, and our friends Hankettes in Canada produces a pad which they claim to be different.

A few weeks ago something clicked. I felt I must give washable pads a go to see if they work. Hankettes sent some samples over for me to trial. If they are really so good, I might -- as requested by a customer -- even sell them in my shop.

Nothing to lose, really.

The Hankettes pads sound promising because:

  1. They are a 'two-part system': the outer pad and the 'refillable' liner. There are 'all-in-one' washable pads which are just like disposables, apart from their being washed and re-used. Having used 'all-in-one' nappies previously which I thought was not as good as a 'two-part system', the Hankettes pads seems a good choice -- in theory.
  2. Hankettes pads do not have a pl-st-c lining. Yeuw! Wouldn't it leak? I don't know. Their pads are of canvas quality (in organic cotton, of course) and I shall have to see how much they leak ... or not.
  3. There are no metal bits, although there are two tiny bits of plastic (popper).

So I washed the pads not once but twice as I did the nappies because pre-washing is supposed to increase its absorbency.

Having 'assembled' the pad I thought it looked terribly fiddley. Apparently I could also 'refold' the liner to get a fresh surface. That will be interesting. I then waited.

And continued my research on the web about menstrual pads. Some very interesting facts about mentruation have been collected in the Museum of Menstruation here. Apparently some older women can recall their mums walking around with home-made pads stuck between their legs with no underwear and they managed!

I certainly remember my mum telling me that she used to sew pads from scraps of fabric and these needed to be washed out (a bit like the 'all-in-one' pads). I believe they have a special bowl in the house for washing that they called a 'foot bowl'. Pads and knickers -- because they are 'polluting' -- had to be washed separately from other laundry.

While Mum taught me to re-use everything, she did not seem to like the idea of re-using those sanitary pads. Yeah, so when I started, we still had the 'belt' version, used with pads with loops. There were times of panic when we couldn't find our belt at that time of the month.

So, how are the washable pads doing? Wait and see.

Part of me is eager to try cloth to try to cut down on landfilling. Another part of me is also hoping that the experiment would fail so I can be spared the hassle of soaking, washing and drying cloth pads.

Back to Organic-Ally.