By Beatice Tridimas
Talking about periods can be embarrassing. Writing the word period can feel a little daring.
P E R I O D.
And to be 100% honest, periods are completely unpredictable and mine didn’t come when I expected it to, so I couldn’t review these reusable menstrual products as I intended. (I did still slip on these Modibodi bikini which I give a 10/10 for making my PMS womb feel snug as a bug!)
In support of the European Week for Waste Reduction, KeiSei started investigating the available reusable menstrual products, and just how much they do for women and the environment.
It’s suggested that regular, disposable pads are 90% plastic. This is equivalent to 4 plastic bags. Changing your pad 4 or 5 times a day adds around 20 plastic bags to landfill a day per cycle.
Wuka, a brand selling period pants, have estimated that by switching to their reusable products (where one pair of pants will work effectively for around 2 years) you are sending only 129 items to landfill over your lifetime, as opposed to a whopping 13,000+ of conventional products. What’s more is that Wuka pants are made using a new material, LENZING MicroModal, which is compostable and recycles the chemicals used for its production.
Wuka aren’t the only brand Waking Up and Kicking Ass with their products. Cheeky Mama by Cheeky Wipes also make period pants as well as a range of reusable menstrual pads. I chose the bamboo and minkee ones, slightly thicker and warmer than the cotton alternative but just SO soft. Pulling these out their recyclable package, I considered how putting on a nice pair of underwear in the morning can really make you feel good, so why can’t putting on a cute and cosy pad?
But don’t worry, this isn’t just going to be a review of products I’ve looked at, touched, but not actually bled on. The conversation doesn’t end here.
Another is that all the benefits these products have for the environment, they also have for our personal environment.
Tampons and pads made from non-organic cotton contain all of the chemicals and pesticides used to make those materials. Toxic chemicals could have serious health effects; the issue is, is that not enough research has been done concerning the effects of these materials on menstrual health (classic patriarchy).
9/10 women are unaware of what tampons are made from. I, for one, don’t think I ever really questioned the material of the products I used, I just took it for granted that there was something that soaked up my blood every month.
Limiting mainstream menstrual products to disposable pads and tampons, we are taught to physically throw away any evidence of having had a period. We are coerced into the suppression of our own natural bodily functions, taught only to deal with periods as easily and discreetly as possible, never to question what effect this might have on our bodies. Women are repeatedly asked to endanger themselves so as to avoid embarrassment over a perfectly natural bodily function.
All over the world, periods are considered dirty, embarrassing or shameful. ‘In Nepal we have a word for period which is called Nachune,’ says Ruby. Nachune translates as untouchable, ‘so, like the word, you are untouchable actually for a whole five days.’
‘There needs to be a cultural mind shift,’ says Helen, creator of Cheeky Wipes, ‘and the only way to get this is to educate not just our girls, but our boys and young men.’