Friday, March 14, 2008

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.

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