*As I’m speaking from personal experience this article mentions moms. However, I do want to acknowledge that fathers too have a valuable opinion.
No one ever forgets the day they pulled down their pants and saw blood in their underwear. If you’re female you were probably handed a packet of disposable sanitary napkins and given a brief talk on periods. If you’re male you were probably rushed to the hospital – I hope you’re okay now.
Guess what! The disposable pads you were handed then are linked to major health and environmental issues. Have you ever considered switching to something like cloth pads? They’re good for you and our planet. SO, why not buy a couple and try ‘em out, right?
REALITY ALERT – if you aren’t an adult you still have to consult your prime decision maker – MOM!
How are you going to talk about this?
It can take guts to talk to your mother about menstruation, let alone sustainable menstruation. Especially if you haven’t really had a genuine conversation with your mom about periods before. Don’t blame her – what are we to expect when, even in 2019, the biggest menstrual product brand in India is named ‘Whisper’?
Well, please don’t fret. I have a few tips that will hopefully make this conversation (read: debate) easier for you.
TIP 1 – Arm yourself with the facts
Are you imagining your convo to go like this?
Mom can I switch to cloth pads?
Personally, these facts made me raise my eyebrows – and sharing them with your mom – might just change her mind, and even start a conversation.
- Disposable sanitary napkins aren’t sanitized and are often bleached using chlorine – yes, the same thing that makes you eyes burn in the pool.
- The dioxins present in plastic pads can cause cancer, reproductive health issues and immunological problems.
- 1 disposable pad = 4 plastic bags.
Your parents love you; these facts will definitely concern them. They want what is best for YOUR health. You must also let your mother do her own research or consult a doctor she trusts. This will make her more open to the switch.
TIP 2 – Know the enemy
SPOILER ALERT: It is not your mom.
“But, beta, even people who used cloth before are switching to disposable pads, why go back to cloth then?”
Are you expecting this to be your mom’s argument?
Your mother may bring up this point because of the stigma around using cloth for menstruation. The stigma that has people believe things like “cloth is dirty” or “cloth is going backward, because it was used in the past”. We have to understand that using cloth for menstruation is only detrimental when it isn’t used, stored or washed correctly. Cloth itself is not “dirty”.
Secondly, just because cloth was used traditionally doesn’t mean it is backward or bad. Women basically switched to plastic pads because it’s convenient and there are million dollar ad campaigns telling them they need to. And do you think that pad manufacturers have our best interests at heart?
Compare this with Eco Femme, which has more humane campaigns and programmes such as Pad for Pad and Pads for Sisters that spread awareness in rural India about menstrual health and sustainable menstruation. Eco Femme’s cloth pads are healthy because they are certified organic (the cloth and the dye) and when used, washed and stored properly are completely hygienic.
TIP 3 – Be open to negotiation
“What about school?”
“What if you get an infection?”
Your mother will have valid concerns like these. Be open to negotiating with her; her inputs are important. My mother and I decided I would try the cloth pads out for the first time during the summer break. We thought this way, I would have used the pads for two periods before having to deal with them at school. My mother also made me promise that if I got an infection or rash whilst using the pads I would go back to using disposable ones. I find this extremely reasonable.
TIP 4 – Prove to her that you’re a ‘big girl’
You may be expecting this or may be completely taken aback by it – but I assure you it will come.
“I will end up washing them!”
To be fair I wouldn’t want to wash someone else’s pads. That is why you need to ask yourself these questions:
- Will you wash the pads yourself EVERY SINGLE MONTH?
If your answer is yes – great!
- Do you know how to?
It is okay if you don’t know how to and you’re willing to learn.
Finally, from one daughter to another, I just want to let you know that mothers do come around. My initially apprehensive mother washed my pads when I injured my arm because she saw how much difference cloth pads made to my menstrual health.
So why not make the switch? Welcome to the #clothpadrevolution!
By Nritu (aged 14 – Eco Femme ambassador)