I remember that our female elders used “lampins” or thick cloth during their monthly cycle. They call it “pasador” in the vernacular.
When I was a teenager, I cannot imagine myself using a “pasador”. I thought it was the ickiest and yuckiest thing to wear. Not to mention that it’s too tedious to wash afterwards.
Disposable sanitary pads were the norm ever since. I started wearing one at the age of 13. There used to be like two kinds of pads-non-wing and with wings. Currently, you’d find every type possible in the market-cottony feel, ultra slim, long, dry feel, for night use, and even liners intended for daily wear.
Advertising will also make you incline to try their products with promises like no back leaks, conforms to the way you move, no bad odor etc.
Try To Re-Think About Using Disposable Pads
I have been using disposable pads for more than twenty years now. They are very convenient and makes you feel worry-free. Disposable sanitary pads make you forget about your monthly period and let you do things as normally as possible.
But, have we ever thought about what really makes up those disposable pads ?
Sanitary Pads’ Main Material
If we refer to Wikipedia, the primary components of disposable pads are bleached rayon, cotton and plastics. Antibacterial agents and fragrance are also included. Absorbent gel are mostly found within to basically prevent the liquid from leaking.
However, according to an article titled “Chem Fatale” of Women’s Voices.Org, sanitary pads’ “hazardous ingredients may include dioxins and furans, pesticide residues, unknown fragrance chemicals, and adhesive chemicals such as methyldibromo glutaronitrile. Exposure concerns include cancer, reproductive harm, and endocrine disruption.”
In addition, “The fragrances used in pads are almost never disclosed to consumers, meaning women are unknowingly exposed to numerous possible chemicals.” So blood odor free does not really mean safe.
Another Scary Thing…
Those chemicals stated above that you can’t even spell or pronounce may really pose health hazards. Some findings claim that the cotton used in these pads are not really pure cotton. In fact, most cotton have been smeared with pesticides already to make them appear whiter.
The chemicals used in bleaching cotton may contain dioxin. Long term exposure to dioxin may contribute to health risks such as immune system damage, hormone dysfunction and sometimes, even cancer.
Imagine that accumulating in your body when you have used hundreds of disposable pads within your lifetime.
We’re aware that anything synthetically produced takes lot of years to decompose when disposed. Just think about the number of disposable pads thrown into our landfills every day. It’s probably billions of pads already!
Here in our country, we have not yet mastered the habit of recycling and sustainable waste management. So, I think there really is an urgent need to contribute something good to the environment such as switching to eco and health friendly products, particularly using plastic-free period pads.
What Are The Eco-Friendly Menstrual Products We Could Use ?
There are at least three alternatives to using disposable sanitary pads. They are not yet mainstream here in the Philippines, but they are worth trying out.
This is a bell-shaped feminine product that’s used for collecting your menstrual flow. It’s made of medical-grade silicone. This could be used for every 4 to 12 hours, depending on your flow. It could be washed and boiled after every use. The estimate lifespan of this product is around 2 years or even longer with proper use and care.
The cost of cups depend on the brands. It could range from 1,000 to 2,000 pesos. Popular brands are Diva Cup, Sckoon, MeLuna. These are available online such as from Mama.Baby.Love, and in retail stores such as Mamaway.
There is one local cup brand named Sinaya. You could buy it online. It costs 1,199 pesos a piece. The good thing about this is that for every cup sold, they donate cups to underprivileged communities.
Menstrual cups are most ideal for ladies with active lifestyle. It’s great to use when doing any water-related activities.
Period panties are made up of triple layer of fabric. However, it is not meant to be worn alone especially during your heavy days. I’ve read that it is still recommended wearing a menstrual cup or cloth pad with it.
This is probably best for very light days.
There is a local brand named Mirko PH, sold online via their Instagram page. One pair costs 250 pesos. You could buy 3 pairs for 675 pesos only.
Cloth pads nowadays are made to look just like the usual disposable pads we normally wear.
They are usually made of hemp or cotton. Some make use microfiber cloth and polyurethane laminate fabric (to make the outside cover waterproof). Some has bamboo charcoal in it.
You can simply wash this and re-use it again.
The estimated length of using cloth pad may take 2-3 years (or longer), depending on how you maintain them. It may seem expensive at first to buy these, but in the long run, they would actually cost pretty much the same as buying disposable pads. Also, don’t forget that there would be less waste in our landfill.
Local brands are a plenty here in the Philippines. I found on Google local sellers like HannahPad PH, Vezees Closet, Binibining Lakambini, Etoffe Creations, Lazada, Shopee and many more. Cost of these may range from 70 to 300 pesos a piece, depending on the type pad (regular, heavy, and liner).
My Choice — Cloth Pads
Among the three, I decided on purchasing cloth pads, since they’re just like using disposable ones.
Menstrual cups seem to do the job better, but I’m a bit afraid of inserting it to my cervix. Maybe next time if ever I’d get the courage to do so.
Period panties still require a menstrual pad or cup as mentioned, so I’m not keen on investing on it yet.
When you try to browse different sellers of these, you’d get excited for too much eye candy. What do I mean by this ? Cloth pads come in beautiful and colorful designs! Who knew that you’d look forward to Aunt Flo’s next visit so that you could wear these. Well, I am now.
Why I Made The Switch ?
I decided to use cloth pads primarily because I want to lessen the scary chemicals absorbed by my body. Now, I really wish I was able to use these during my younger years!
They also say that disposable pads are common cause of allergies and itchiness, which I have previously experienced too. And, I really don’t want to end up getting really sick because of these products by the time I get older…
Aside from the health risk, I do want to contribute something for the environment. It may just be less than 1% less waste, but, 1% still goes a long way in the future.
Cloth Pads Are Worth It
Yes, they could be a hassle (not to mention icky and yucky), but once you get the hang of it, it’s actually pretty cool to use. (I’d be sharing my experience of using these on my next post.)
If we could buy shoes, bags or apparels worth five hundred to a thousand pesos (or more), I don’t see why we, ladies, can’t buy something healthier and more earth friendly products such as these. Let’s be kind to our health (and earth) more.