It’s Earth Day! (Healthy Homemaking: Naturally Female)

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Happy Earth Day! What a perfect reminder to celebrate and be thankful for the beautiful earth that God has given us to live in, take dominion of, and enjoy!

It's also a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the ways that we can live more simply and put less of a burden on our planet: decreasing consumption and waste, choosing more eco-friendly options, adjusting our personal practices, voting with our dollars and simply becoming more aware of how we can live more sustainably. I've noticed a multitude of blogs sharing ideas on these topics (40 Tips to Go Greener at Home, Thirty-One Tips for Reducing Your Impact While Saving Money, Going, Going, GREEN, to name a few).

To toss in my two cents, here's one of my "Going Green" baby steps from my new eBook, Healthy Homemaking: One Step at a Time

Ebook buttons_flower Ebook buttons_tree Baby Step 17- Naturally Female

What this baby step is all about:

Consider the products that you are using for your menstrual cycle, and some more natural options, and if you're willing, make the switch!

Why this step is important:

There are many worthwhile issues to think about when considering switching to a non-disposable option. I would say that the environmental issue of non-biodegradable waste would be my biggest reason for considering the use of something like cloth pads. Next to disposable diapers, disposable pads are one of the items that are filling up our landfills at the greatest speed.

Secondly for me would be the health issues. Here is a brief excerpt from a company selling these products:

    The plastic and glue backing on disposable pads greatly reduce air circulation, creating a stagnant environment in which some bacteria thrive. This can cause odor and exacerbate any pre-existing vaginal irritation. This plastic sheeting also causes perspiration, sometimes rashes and other irritations, and can leave you more susceptible to yeast infections. Many women report allergic reactions to disposable pads, most likely caused by bleaching residues.

    Low levels of dioxin have been found in almost every major brand of tampon (except 100% organic cotton). Dioxin is a known carcinogen and has been linked to cervical cancer, breast cancer, endometriosis, and immune system suppression. There is much scientific debate as to whether there is such a thing as a “safe level” of dioxin exposure. For more information on dioxin, please see the Dioxin Fact Sheet, prepared by the scientists at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

As well, below I have included some links to information about tampon safety.

Lastly, I think that reusable pads are worth considering for the cost- just like disposable diapers, this is a cost that can add up quickly, and I love to find new ways to save money wherever possible. When an issue touches on three such important areas (environment, health and budget), you can bet that I will strongly consider making a change in what I am doing!

How to get started with this step:

Glad rags There are a few options, really. One is to simply go for it, purchase some cloth pads for yourself (or even make your own- pattern links below!), and give it a try!

Another is to begin to try it on a part time basis. You could use them while you are at home, for instance, but go back to regular disposable pads while you are out. This could be a good compromise, and a bit of an easier introduction to the whole concept.

A third option is to not go with cloth pads, but instead to seek out a brand of natural, chemical-free disposable pads as a better alternative to the conventional ones. These are generally made with more environmentally friendly materials that will break down more easily, and also do not contain the chemicals mentioned above that can cause ill effects to our health.

Online Resources:

Tampon safetyMercola.com and National Research Center for Women and Families

Where to buy cloth pads (a small sampling of online stores):

Baby Dreams Boutique
Glad Rags
Goddess Moons
Cloth Pads Shop

Where to buy natural, disposable pads:

Inter Natural

Make your own homemade pads at Hillbilly Housewife!

Just for fun- The Museum of Menstruation

Taken from the eBook Healthy Homemaking: One Step at a Time.

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Any cloth pad or other natural feminine product users out there? If not, is this something that you think you could do? 

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  1. For some strange reason when I first heard of this I thought it was gross. But I switched after I had my first baby (using cloth diapers got me thinking). Its not gross at all! I LOVE my cloth pads and the kind I have are much more comfortable (and I used to use natural disposable ones before). I also love how they are beneficial in terms of health, environment AND saving money. I did compromise with the postpartum bleeding since I do not have enough pads (enough only for a regular cycle) I used natural disposable ones until the bleeding slowed down.

  2. I thought about this for a long time before deciding to try this. I made my own from an old flannel nightgown I had and some leftover cotton batting from a quilt project. I love them, and right from the start even used them in public. I just carried a ziploc bag in my diaper bag to put the used one(s) in. One time I had to use a disposable (can’t remember why) and was disturbed to notice how much more I bled! If anyone is thinking of doing this you won’t regret it.

  3. My friend I and I discussed this yesterday. While part of me still sees this a step back in time, I certainly understand the health, and environmental impacts. I was only invisioning the ‘homemade’ type but I guess having seen there are made ones that make this easier and using them at home while using others while out in public wouldn’t be a hardship. I don’t really have ‘periods’ anymore just light spotting something like this may be comfortable without the irritation of a sticky back liner. If it works for you then I say go for it, as long as people don’t judge others who just can’t make this leap back into time.

  4. Another item to add to your reusable stash is a Diva cup. (There are other brands/names out there, but I think they all do the same thing.) Its a silicon cup that you insert just like a tampon and then empty/rinse occassionally (sometimes I only have to do this twice a day). Its great for sleeping, exercising, etc. You can leave it in for longer ammounts of time safely, unlike a tampon. I started investigating cloth pads and the cup when my periods started getting really heavy and painful. Most people, myself included, find that after they stop using the conventional pads and tampons, they actually have lighter periods and less cramping. There is apparently something in the disposables (chemical of some kind) that actually pulls the blood out and causes us to bleed more.

  5. I was going to mention the Diva cup as well! For people who normally use tampons and don’t want to use pads this can be a great option.

  6. I third the Diva cup. I haven’t had to buy feminine products in several years. I found the cheapest price at Lucky Vitamin.com.

  7. I tried the Diva Cup and it didn’t work well for me. It was uncomfortable (and, yes, I tried a few tips I read online, including trimming the stem) – I think it’s due to the way my cervix is shaped or something.

    But I love cloth pads! I got mine from http://www.theessenceofeve.com – and there are a lot of WAHMs who make them on hyenacart and etsy.

    I also initially thought it’d be gross, but it’s really not, you get used to it very quickly. I highly recommend BacOut by BioKleen – I spray some on each pad and put it in a cloth wetbag until I wash them…this has seemed to get them cleaner and keep them fresh-smelling.

  8. I was going to mention The Keeper Cup and The Diva Cup(I’ve only tried the Keeper)but others beat me to it. I started using cloth pads a few months ago, shortly after starting to use family cloths, after reading about those here. Thank you for spreading the green news and for opening our eyes and our minds!

  9. I have just recently partially switched to cloth pads. The only reason I haven’t fully switched is because I need to make some more… I LOVE them! I had less cramps than I’ve had in the past, they don’t make that crinkly noise that disposables to and they were SO comfy. I made my own pattern and didn’t bother turning and topstitching and used some PUL I had from making diapers, micro fiber terry and velour or flannel and I couldn’t be happier with my experiment. Now, I just need to find some time to sew about 10 more so I’ll have enough.

  10. I’m definitely going to give this a try when I have some time to sit down and make some. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I’ve tried the Diva Cup, but I just don’t like it. It pinches me no matter how I insert it, and if it doesn’t pinch, it leaks. I’ve read and re-read the instructions and looked for tips online. It’s not for me. So I’ve switched to Seventh Generation pads. (Whole Foods’ store brand was awful!) Maybe I can get up the nerve to try cloth pads, but I’m not sure the environmental concern is enough to push me over the edge. Perhaps I’ll keep recycling and call it a day.

    P.S. I buy the Seventh Generation pads at Vitacost.com at a significant discount.

  12. I was just writing to mention the Diva cup too. Actually, I have both the Diva cup and “The Keeper”, which is the original version of the Diva cup (by a different company). I find that the Diva is more comfortable to wear, but harder to insert, whereas the Keeper is easier to get in properly, but not quite as comfortable. With either of them, though, only a light pad is necessary (and cloth ones are perfect for light pads), so when I’m at work or away from home, I feel like that’s the easiest option.

  13. Oh, and one more thing:

    For heavy pads or night time wear, I take cut an old, worn out cloth diaper (we use Chinese prefolds) in half, and sew it into a 1/4 size tube. They’re ugly, but super easy and really do hold a lot.

  14. I investigated this years ago when I had months of miscarriages (and therefore, bleeding). I’ve never taken the plunge, but I’ll have to think about it again. Great info.

    Thanks for the link, too.

  15. Between a miscarriage, my pregnancy with my daughter and being pregnant now, I’ve only had a period for about 6 months in the last two and a half years. Lucky me! 😉 However, during that time I used the Diva Cup and LOVED it. I’m planning to make my own cloth pads for after I deliver in June (which reminds me… I need to get started on that!).

  16. I bought the keeper last year about this time and was really excited about using it. However, a surprise pregnancy came along (LOL) and I never did get to try it! Maybe in a few more months… In the meantime I’m enjoying nursing baby boy #5!

  17. I have gone back and forth on the cloth issue! I have heard that there is actually abestos in the disposable pads that causes women to have heavier and longer cycles. I don’t know if that is true but it wouldn’t surprise me! I guess my cycle is so heavy that I am afraid to use the cloth. Thank you for bringing this up to me again though, I really think it is something I should look into!

  18. I bought Gladrags and the Keeper over ten years ago and liked using both. It always troubled me to think of how much money I was essentially throwing away each month. And this may sound odd, but I actually was kind of sad when I no longer needed the Keeper. Even without menstruating any longer, I wear Gladrags most of the time because they absorb perspiration and I find them to be quite comfortable.

  19. I have been using cloth pads for about 6 years now and would not go back. I bought mine from sweet cheeks at http://www.sweetcheeksdiapers.com/home.html and they are still in great shape after six years. I think when and if I need more I will attempt to make some to save cost, but at the time I just wanted to get started and didn’t have a sewing machine.
    I don’t find it to be a hassle at all and I often wear them even when I don’t have my period to keep myself drier and more comfortable. I would encourage any of you who are wanting to start to buy a few and see if you like them before you go ahead and buy a bunch. Likely you will never want to go back to disposable. Thanks so much for your post!

  20. I have been using cloth pads for almost one year and my daughter using them also. We love them. I made my own. How do you wash your???

  21. A friend and I recently did tandem blog posts about the menstrual cups because she IM’d me asking about them. I bought your e-book and enjoyed this section, but was surprised you didn’t mention them. Looks like your commenters took care of that. LOL I’m really enjoying reading this discussion – I’ve been considering trying the Keeper or DivaCup with cloth pads as back up…. I’ve tried NatraCare pantyliners and HATED them….when I mentioned that to my friend she said the same thing. So that “green” brand of traditional style products, at least, is out for me.

  22. Thanks so much for your terrific posting. It’s really great to see that so many women are beginning to be bothered by the waste that is caused by disposable menstrual products, and are therefore turning to reusables.

    I hope that you and your site visitors will want to see a concrete rendering of exactly HOW HARMFUL disposable menstrual products are to the environment. Just check out Keeper.com’s Comparison Photo Page. On the left side of the website, you will see a button with the words, “New: Photos!” in red. Clicking on this button will lead you to the Comparison Photo Page, which shows — in pictures — exactly HOW MUCH WASTE the average woman who uses tampons creates in one month, one year, ten years and 40 years. (And by the way, the average woman menstruates for forty years!)

    I think you will agree with me that these photos are worth at least A THOUSAND WORDS, because, frankly, I don’t think that women who use disposable menstrual products — which is, unfortunately, MOST women — actually like to think about the lifetime accumulation of waste they are foisting on our environment.

    This visual provides actual PROOF of the huge amount of environmental waste we women create, in this small area of our lives alone.

    And you’ll just love the photo on this Comparison Photo Page of the DUMP TRUCK, which is FILLED with 260 POUNDS of tampons and packaging. Believe it or not, the average woman actually uses (and tosses into the environment) that many pounds of tampons in her menstruating lifetime – and if she uses disposable menstrual pads, there will be even more waste!

    The link to the comparison photo page: http://www.keeper.com/photographs.html

    Julia Schopick
    Director of Marketing
    The Keeper, Inc.

  23. Thanks, Julia. Those photos are great, and I think they help to really hammer home the facts of waste caused by disposable menstrual products!

  24. I use lunapads, and LOVE them! It’s a good feeling knowing that you have something natural to use, and not something filled with plastic that has to be thrown into a dump for many, many years!

  25. I use the Moon Cup (british version of the Diva cup, I think) since last year. Ecological, thrifty and sooo confortable. I second all suggestions for the cup. No problems when swimming or fear of bleeding on my clothes.

  26. I use the Moon Cup (british version of the Diva cup, I think) since last year. Ecological, thrifty and sooo confortable. I second all suggestions for the cup. No problems when swimming or fear of bleeding on my clothes.

  27. Just bought a Diva Cup and will get some cloth pads too if I need them. I’m wondering, though, if cloth pads get washed seperately or can they be washed with towels?

  28. Several months back after much debate, I purchased moonpads from a vendor at etsy. They are all made from organic fabric and she dyes them herself I believe I read. The only thing not organic was the 2 little flaps that fasten around your panty, but that doesnt touch your ‘parts’ so to speak, and they are soooo well made! Many cute patterns and they hold up so well. The first 2 months I used them (got them in Nov) I no longer have painful periods that would leave me crying on the floor anymore and I never bled through, which surprised me because my periods are pretty heavy, but I already feel so much better.

    Like another reader posted, I too spray some Biokleen on them and let them soak before washing. They are so easy to use and I cant believe I didnt try them sooner. It does take some getting used to since I have never used pads before, but they have them in different sizes and I would never go back to disposables ^_^ (I had to use a tampon 1 time since then and found it so disgusting!)

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