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Reusable pads - going back in the past or responsible consumption?

“We are going back to grandma’s time” is one of the most heard and used phrases when it comes to reusable pads. But let’s go beyond those words! Why is it so bad? First of all, we have evolved enough to have access to information and to be able to understand certain processes; second of all, consumption becomes increasingly irresponsible. Reusable pads are reminiscent of grandma’s time, being made of textile material, but have nothing in common with some random rags/pieces of fabric. 

What are they actually?

More than just cloths, reusable pads are a combination of materials with special properties. The ones on our shop have a layer that allows the skin to breathe and dries quickly, 3 layers that absorb the liquid, and a waterproof layer that stops the liquid from flowing and staining the underwear.

Disgusting or natural? What exactly is menstruation?

Most people who are repulsed by reusable pads associate menstruation and menstrual blood with something shameful and dirty. The fact that menstruation involves the elimination of "dirty" blood from the body is just a myth. In reality, what we call menstrual blood is a combination of blood, tissue (endometrium), vaginal and cervical secretions and vaginal bacteria, the type of bacteria that help balance the vaginal flora and maintain an optimal pH.

"I have to carry a smelly pad with me?"

We have news for you! Menstruation smells. It is normal, but not because it contains toxins, but because the blood contains iron, which results in the metallic smell. Also, the natural acidity of the vaginal area (a suitable pH is between 3.8-4.5) and vaginal bacteria are another reason. Moreover, menstrual fluid can have several odors, each of which means a different thing to your health.

If you are worried about using reusable pads in public spaces because of the smell, find out that they can be folded and stored in a small bag so that the smell stays inside and is not detectable at all.

"You mean I have to wash a pad full of blood?"

Yes, just like washing any other textile material that comes in contact with the skin, whether we're talking about underwear or a T-shirt. In addition, if you do not want to wash them by hand, you can always use the washing machine, as long as you make sure to use the correct temperature and avoid using a fabric softener. For people who do not have a washing machine, the pads can be held in cold water for about 30 minutes, immediately after they have been used, so that stains can be removed more easily.

"If I wash them, I will consume a lot of water and the detergents are not eco-friendly."

Regarding water consumption, we recommend washing them together with other clothes, so that the volume of water used is not very large. Since washing takes place in an environment where cleaning products are present, the bacteria in the blood will not get on your clothes, nor the blood itself or the smell. As for detergents, you can use ecological alternatives, without phosphates, some of them having in their composition even vegetable oils. But you can also use sodium percarbonate, a more environmentally friendly alternative to detergents and bleaches available on the market.

Of course, everyone has the right to use whatever menstrual products they want, but one of our goals is to open a conversation and promote reusable pads, as an eco-friendly and economical one-of-a-kind option.

Why do we consider them useful?

Because they are truly eco-friendly: their production process pollutes much less than in the case of disposable ones. Reusable pads can be used for more than 5 years. They do not contain plastic (a disposable pad you can buy at the store contains chemicals and plastics and it decomposes in more than 500 years)

"Like that was the real source of pollution," is another phrase that often appears as an argument against reusable pads. No, pads are not the only source of pollution, but they contain dioxins, furans, pesticide residues, which are harmful to the environment and can cause allergic reactions. *Therefore, pads may not be the biggest pollutant, but we cannot deny their harmful effect on the environment.

Currently there are also biodegradable disposable pads, made of organic cotton, bamboo and/or paper. These products do not contain traces of pesticides, chlorine or peroxide. The materials used are organic and eco-friendly, and the paper used is recycled. The disadvantage is the high cost of these products. Being disposable, this means that people who use them have to buy a new package every month, as in the case of classic pads.

Because they last a long time

Reusable pads are a solution for anyone who wants to consume responsable. Most reusable pads can be used for more than 5 years, if properly cared for. It is also estimated that a single reusable pad can replace 120 classic menstrual products (pads or tampons).

Because they are comfortable

Unlike classic pads, reusable ones do not contain plastic or synthetic products that absorb menstruation, but do not let the skin breathe, as is the case of viscose fibers. This means that you will not be irritated and you will not have a feeling of discomfort. In addition, they stick with staples, not adhesive, which means that the pad will not move, and the chances of you getting stained will be considerably reduced.

Because they are economical

In Romania, the price of a pack of menstrual pads varies between 7-20 lei. This is a price that women have to pay monthly în order to have access to a basic product for them. This results in 84-240 lei spent in a year only on menstrual products. In the case of women with a heavier menstrual flow, this cost is even higher. At first glance, the price of a reusable pad may seem high, but in the long run, you end up saving more.

We tried to set the iele pads at the most affordable price, but we have to mention that:

- iele pads are made in a manufactory in Bucharest in an ethical way - the employees receive the salary corresponding to their activity, they don’t work night shifts or in conditions that would affect their physical health or integrity.

- The materials are purchased from well-known producers and they are resistant, hypoallergenic and do not contain APFO (perfluorooctanoic acid) or ASPF (perfluorinated alkyl sulfonates).

- sales support the iele-sânziene NGO.

One of our projects focuses on menstrual education and access to menstrual hygiene products for girls and women from disadvantaged backgrounds. In our menstrual health workshops we focus on education and information, we explain what menstrual products are and how to use them. We also provide participants with a set of free reusable pads, which we do not present as the only menstrual product out there. We let them make their own choices regarding what menstrual products they want to use. If the feedback we receive is positive, and they want to continue to use it, then we distribute them in a larger number.

Reusable pads are beneficial for people in underserved areas because the monthly cost for pads is reduced to almost zero. Reusable pads are easy to care for and are a long-term solution. In addition, people no longer have to resort to rudimentary solutions, such as rags or cotton wool and toilet paper, which are uncomfortable and increase the risk of infection.

More information about the care of iele reusable pads can be read in the Frequently Asked Questions section, here: 


Sources:

http://sites.utexas.edu/thechattygal/the-chemistry-of-period-blood/

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/17/well/are-reusable-feminine-cloths-safe.html

https://www.treehugger.com/health/reasons-why-you-should-switch-to-reusable-menstrual-products.html

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/patna/doctors-for-use-of-eco-friendly-pads/articleshow/64344924.cms

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/106/hr890/text

http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/healthandscience/cumulative-exposure-and-feminine-care-products/

http://www.womensvoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Chem-Fatale-Report.pdf

https://doctor.ndtv.com/womens-health/how-harmful-are-tampons-and-sanitary-napkins-our-gynecologist-explains-1818188

http://online.sfsu.edu/sketch/523/2016/poster/01_08_lingling_ma_30x40_poster_women_hygiene.pdf

https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/organic-tampons-review#8