Are Reusable Sanitary Pads Good?
The average user of disposable products uses thousands of them in a lifetime. Considering all the nasties that have been found in disposable tampons and pads, and the complete lack of any kind of long-term studies into their safety, it’s pretty safe to say that at first glance, reusable sanitary pads come up trumps when it comes to money, health and environmental considerations.
So at the risk of spending this whole article ranting like a fangirl about the mind-boggling colour and fabric selection available out there, I thought it best to narrow things down to the pros and cons of using reusable sanitary pads:
Pros: You don’t get to pick the ingredients in your disposable period products. In fact, there is no obligation on manufacturers to list the ingredients of their products at all. So in general, they don’t. (What exactly is in that ominous ‘blue gel core’ though.....??) With reusable sanitary pads, you know exactly what goes into your product before you buy them.
Cons: .......Is too much choice a con?
Pros: Reusable sanitary pads are made from a range of (often natural or organic) materials, from super absorbent bamboo fleece, to light and breathable cotton, to snuggly flannel. They also come in a range of sizes and shapes, meaning that no matter what kind of flow you have, you always get the best performance from your personalised stash of pads, and all without that annoying sticky strip at the back!
Cons: It can take a bit of trial and error before discovering the sanitary pads which suit you best. Pads containing synthetic fabrics or a thick core may make the wearer feel overheated, and until you have accrued your dream stash of about ten pads, your reusables may need to be accompanied by a menstrual cup or a disposable alternative to help you make it through a full cycle.
Reusable pads also require that you develop a routine of sorts around their care and maintenance, so this will take a little extra time in the initial stages.
Pros: Pads, tampons, applicators and associated packaging binned by the average disposables user in a lifetime amount to a total of 120-150kg of waste which is destined for landfill or worse, our sewerage system, oceans or beaches. With reusable sanitary pads, this is eliminated almost totally. With the choices on offer, you can choose to use only fabrics which are 100% compostable and expect them to last around five years. All you’re left with once your sanitary pads are shredded and retired to the compost heap are the snappers or Velcro fastenings, and with a little creativity, even these can be saved from landfill.
Reusables can also cut down on the industrial processes and chemicals necessary to manufacture disposables, resulting in lower environmental impact.
Cons: Proper care of your pads means you need access to water, and lots of it, although this water can be reused after initial use. You may also need to transport your pads around with you, which may involve the use of polyurethane wet bags, which are not compostable.
Pros: The cost of each reusable sanitary pad is usually recouped after only a few months, even if you weren’t sticking to the cheapest price brackets when buying. This means that over the course of a 5-year life-span, your pads are saving you a considerable amount of money.
Having less rubbish for your bin-man each month may also save you money over time.
Cons: Completing your first stash from scratch can be expensive. With pads ranging anywhere from €5-€25, buying 10 of them all at once can seem daunting. It might be better to buy them one or two at a time, and it’s always worth keeping an eye out for special offers on ‘mystery boxes’ or starter packs from your favourite companies to keep costs down as much as possible.
So yes, reusable sanitary are good. They’re very good. Am I allowed to start ranting about the colour and pattern choices now.....? Anyone for some organic rainbow tie-dyed cotton......?