My First Reusable Pad
Blandine West, The Unmentionables Communications Officer
I recently read an article about a young girl who committed suicide after her teacher humiliated her in class because of a period stain on her uniform. It broke my heart, as I’m sure it did to anyone who read about this, to think that a girl can be made to feel so ashamed of something so natural. Period stains are inevitable! I have been on the pill for the last 4 years, I know that my period comes 3 days after I finish the pack. Yet, most of the time, I find out my period has arrived from a stain on my underwear. This particular young girl didn’t have a pad, instead once her teacher had paraded her stain to the rest of the class, she gave her a duster cloth to use.
Reading this story made me realize the importance of The Unmentionables’ work. While so many of us take for granted having a pack of tampons or pads around or feel confident enough to know that a stain once in a while is inevitable – for others, periods are unspoken of, something to be ashamed of and many women and girls are unprepared for them. The Unmentionables’ emphasis on “unmentionable” needs such as feminine hygiene products is so important to begin the conversation about periods, the importance of hygiene and providing populations with necessary products they don’t always have access to. Most importantly, it's a huge step towards tackling the stigma around periods.
Not long after reading this article, I got my period and this month I was greeted with a heavy flow. Unfortunately I didn’t head to work very prepared for this so upon my return I decided it was time for me to try the reusable pad I had yet to use. After spending time at a women’s centre in Athens with The Unmentionables giving out reusable kits to refugee women and young girls, it felt important for me to try these products myself. After all, there’s no better way to explain how great a product is than sharing your own experience!
The following morning I headed off to work wearing my reusable pad and packing no back up pads – I had a lot of faith in this! Fortunately, I wasn’t disappointed. Wearing skinny jeans, the pad felt much more obvious than a disposal pad and honestly, it felt a bit like I was wearing a nappy but I took this as a good sign of full protection. Aside from feeling like everyone was aware that I was wearing a reusable pad, everything went pretty well. A few hours into the day and I was worried that the heavy flow would have seeped through the pad but I was pleasantly surprised to find my underwear unstained. Something that particularly struck me was that, as a regular user of disposable pads, I was used to that top layer of ick that told you it was time to change but not once did I get the feeling that the absorbance limit had been reached. Everything was dry and most importantly, everything else stayed clean!
Not only did this reusable pad keep everything stain free, it allowed me to relax without a worry about when to slip the next disposable pad from my bag into my pocket, without anyone noticing. Unfortunately, only having one meant that I had to go back to disposable pads the following day while the reusable pad dried. It was remarkably easy to wash and most importantly, not as gross as I expected it to be. The best thing was that I contributed 0 waste that day compared to the 4-5 pads I would usually use a day. If you aren’t seeing the benefits of reusable feminine hygiene products yet, I don’t know how else to tell you. Get over the initial feeling of “eeh” and try one, they’re economical, environmentally friendly, fuss-free and pretty comfortable too. You’d probably need at least 3 to make sure you have yourself covered while you wait for others to dry, but it’s so worth it.
A huge thank you to our partners who create and supply reusable feminine hygiene products. These are what I would call revolutionary and I'm incredibly proud to be part of an organization providing these remarkable products to communities that can benefit the most from them. Honestly, we can all benefit from going reusable but in conditions where access to disposable products is limited, these are simple, hygienic and sustainable alternatives!