One of the biggest stumbling blocks with reuseable menstrual products is the ick factor. When broaching the subject for the first time, many question whether it’s tolerable or sanitary to wash away menstrual blood, by hand. Some are interested and just curious about the how-to and others are disgusted to their very core. I feel conflicted when I speak to the latter group because, whilst I know that it’s actually not disgusting at all, it wasn’t all that long ago that I would have had the same reaction. And, because I still remember that time, I know that those folks are not yet ready to really give it a chance, so I don’t push too hard. As Jody (one of the Goddess Moons alumni) will tell you, converting someone to cloth pads is a 3-conversation process. The concept has to have a chance to sink in, through decades of disposable preconditioning, before people can realize with amazing clarity how much sense it makes.
Some examples of the hardcore doubter? Sometimes I’ll draw a comparison between cloth menstrual pads and cloth diapering, but on one occasion, I was told point-blank that cleaning up poo is far more acceptable than cleaning up blood. Really? Having spent the last 4 years changing diapers, I have to tell ya… blood has far less of a nasal kick to it! And, should it happen to get under your fingernails, it sure rinses away a lot easier too! Another nay-sayer was letting me know, in no uncertain terms, that it was not for her. I suggested it was only as gross as washing underwear that’s been leaked on, to which she stated that she throws her underwear away when that happens. So, I gave up. Can’t win ‘em all.
Disposables are less messy, aren’t they? But only for you. Not for the guy that goes into your stall, after you’ve waltzed away, and has to pick up and empty that stinking box full of soiled sanitary products, containing blood, bacteria and potential disease from multiple people. And not for the guy who has to pick up and empty your garbage can (which might have been warming in the sunshine, just to heighten the aroma) and then drive on down to the swoon-inducing dump, to add it to the unimaginably huge pile of waste that we are accumulating on this beautiful planet. And definitely not for the plumbers that get called out to unblock the pipes after people have flushed away tampons, for whatever reason they thought was reasonable at the time.
Before I started using cloth pads, I was unaware of the guilt I felt when dropping tampons and wrappers into bins. It was only after I’d made the jump and, instead of adding to the garbage, simply rinsed a pad and chucked it in the laundry, that I felt my burden of guilt get lighter. And do I miss tampons or disposable pads? Not a bit. Do I wish I could fritter my money away on them? No – I have coffee shops to keep my money-frittering alive. Our landfills are a massive concern and one significant way we can start to chip away at the problem is to adopt reuseable menstrual products. With over 3 billion women on the planet, each with the potential to use approximately 12 thousand disposable products during their lifetime, it could be a significant chip, don’t you think?
And, like every other good choice in life, the hardest part is making the decision to do it. Just like cloth diapering, cutting out sugar from your coffee, becoming vegetarian or vegan, oh man… even wearing a seatbelt, when that first became compulsory. It doesn’t take long to get acclimatized and then the previous habits will seem awkward and distasteful. Having been using cloth for quite some time, there is not a chance that I would even consider forking out for bleachy, plasticky, chemically-enhanced, scratchy, wrapper-clad disposables. Not a chance! When it comes to saving the planet, remember and share these key words and you can’t go wrong:
Clean up your own mess!