Disclaimer: This is a post about periods and diapers. To be more precise, it’s a post about period-wear. Feel free to skip this post if you’re already feeling weirded-out.
Now that it’s just us, let’s first talk about this cloth diapering trend. Cloth diapers are EVERYWHERE: Search Etsy for cloth diapers and you’ll find 25, 461 items to sift through. Don’t want to buy handmade? BumGenius, BabyKicks, and Kissaluvs are just a few of your many modern options.
Why the pushback against modern diapering technology? There are lots of reasons a mom might choose to use cloth:
1. After what might be a fairly big initial investment, you don’t have to buy diapers ever again (although I have seen and heard of lots of moms swapping diapers, and so for many of them, the investment is not nearly as large). In the end, you save money (especially if you’re crafty and can make your own!).
2. Babies generate a huge amount of waste. Conventional diapers are not biodegradable, especially when so much of them is plastic. Not to mention the fact that even waste that does biodegrade might not do so in a landfill, where there is usually not enough oxygen for things to break down. Doing a search on decomposition times will give you answers that range from 75 to 400 years, but either way, diapers sit there for a long, long time.
3. Chemicals! Conventional diapers contain super absorbant polymers (that’s what locks in the moisture), and these are non-biodegradable. Most sources agree that they are non-toxic, but they will never break down (at least not in our lifetimes). Other chemicals include chlorine, dyes, and fragrances.
4. For looks, of course. Cloth diapers are ADORABLE! Bright colors and patterns, happy-looking baby models…cloth diapers are definitely a fashion statement.
Do you see what I’m getting at here? All the reasons mothers might want to use cloth diapers for their kids are the SAME reasons women are getting in on cloth pads. Pads are made of the same materials as diapers, with the same adhesives, dyes, chlorines, and plastics. The same inability to break down over time. The same waste production!
Okay, okay. Moment of truth: the “so what” question. So what?
I haven’t yet used a cloth pad (I can’t wait to try!). Like cloth diapers, companies exist that sell them (check out Lunapads). And, like cloth diapers, they are expensive. Naturally, there are tons of sites out there that provide tutorials to make your own (I like this one). And, as with diapers, if you type in “cloth pads” inside the Etsy search bar, you’ll get thousands of options (over 10,000 at the writing of this post).
Guys, this means it’s becoming a thing! I get you if you’re grossed out. I promise, I do. It is weird, and seems counterintuitive, to keep an underwear thing that is stained. To rinse blood off a pad, throw it in the wash, and use it again. But, but, but…how cool, right? How awesome to be able to use and re-use something over and over! To be able to cut the amount you spend on these products (my prototype was free! I just used stuff I had lying around). To have nice soft cottony flannel next to your sensitive parts, rather than sticky, sweaty plastic. And again, see number 4 above. They are cute! They are so much happier than your typical disposable pads.
Which is why…
I made my own! This is just the first one, and I didn’t really use one tutorial. I kind of looked at a bunch and made up my own pattern. This one has a layer of terry cloth from an old towel in between the layers of flannel on the striped part, which makes it a little more of a light-flow pad than a panty liner. In this picture I still hadn’t added the snaps to the wings, but I’ve done it now.
It’s definitely a prototype, as I made lots of mistakes:
I found terrycloth really annoying to work with. But, I was dedicated to using only fabric I already had on hand, to try to keep the project as “green” as possible. The towel I used was an old white hand towel that got kind of gray after lots of use.
I’m so excited to try and make a few more, and then give them a whirl in a couple weeks. I’ll let you know how it goes! Oh, and I think this bears mentioning: there are lots of girls in developing countries that have no access to any sanitary products, disposable or otherwise. There are a few organizations out there that donate cloth pads to girls who might otherwise have to stay home from school during their periods, increasing the likelihood of falling behind or dropping out. Cloth works well in developing countries because you don’t have to keep buying more–you just use and wash what you have. I found this resource to be informative: http://www.donatepads.org/.
As always, thanks for reading!