Decision-Making: Washable, Re-usable Pads vs. Disposables

I have been thinking about making the switch from plastic, disposable menstrual pads to washable, re-usable cloth pads for a while now. I was first introduced to them in May this year, when I met Madeleine Shaw and Suzanne Siemens, the founders of Lunapads, based in Vancouver, BC. Now, I don’t normally write about clients (disclaimer: Lunapads was one of my clients and Madeleine and Suzanne remain good friends of mine), but I’ve been thinking a lot about decision-making lately and here was a live example of the long, complex process involved in making a choice.

I was familiar with cloth nappies/ diapers from yesteryear, but I didn’t even think about cloth pads until I met Madeleine and Suzanne. Madeleine kindly gave me a sample panty liner to try out. Admittedly, another two months would pass before I even opened the package. I had questions. I probably should have called Lunapads and asked them, but perhaps part of me wasn’t comfortable with asking or part of me felt like I should know better and figure it out.

My first concern was about how to care for them and wash them. That was easily answered by looking on the Lunapads website – there is readily available information (and now also videos!) about how to care for cloth pads.

My second concern – and this delayed me from making my first purchase – was what to do with soiled pads when I was at work, on the go, and not at home where I could soak them and care for them immediately. All I had to do was spend a bit of time looking on the website some more. It was a video how-to that provided me with the answers (Lunapads in fact sells a waterproof carrying bag with two zipped pockets – one for clean pads and one for soiled pads). But the truth is, part of me probably didn’t want to know the answer. Part of me felt prohibited by the extra effort and care required and admittedly thought it would be too gross and inconvenient to deal with soiled pads in inconvenient locations.

The Tipping Point

The thing that made a difference, that finally spurred me into action, to get on the internet, finish my research on cloth pads was this. It is the culmination of all the nasty stuff that is going into our food, our clothes, and our environment. I already try to make better consumer choices – from my coffee cup made from food grade 100% recycled plastic, to my second-hand vintage engagement ring, to my wedding rings made from recycled white gold, to my wedding dress made from vintage and off-cut fabrics. I try to shop vintage and consignment (and my partner is encouraging me to try thrift). We try to buy local food and when our budget allows we shop organic. We are disgusted by the chemicals, steroids, and antibiotics that are pumped into farmed chicken and fish. We cringe at the chemicals that go into processed cotton (my partner buys organic, Fair Trade cotton t-shirts when he can). And with all this in mind, I thought about the plastic and chemicals that get pressed next to my most intimate parts every month – let alone the huge amount of non-biodegradable plastic that goes into landfill. The choice seemed obvious!

I did some further research, out of curiosity, into who else in the whole was making cloth menstrual pads. Quite a few businesses as it turns out. But frankly, Lunapads are beautiful and cute. They are shaped to be comfortable and stay put with wings and snaps. The fabric from my sample panty liner is a wonderfully soft cotton flannel and fleece, which is blue and pink with cupcakes. The fabric choices online probably change from time to time, but I’m looking forward to receiving my new Lunapads in a midnight mushroom print.

All in all it took me four months to make the decision to switch. I only wish I had known about Lunapads earlier, had the chance to speak more openly about it with other cloth pad users, and make the switch sooner. Better late than never!

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