UK ambassador and founder of Woman’s Wheel, Jane shares her making the switch story…
My story about making the switch starts with me standing at my bright red front door in North Wales in 2012! My rucksack was packed and I grabbed my helmet before locking the house and unlocking the garage to marvel at my dad’s antique motorbike inside. Now I say antique, but this bike is actually the same age as me – that’s 37! A big part of our family history, she has chugged along over thousands of journeys with my dad (wearing his biggles goggles and a smile) through sun rain snow and everything in between. Many a time dad used to come home in the dark freezing cold and soaking wet only to grab my hand and put it on his freezing face!
Now, handed down to me as her new proud owner, there she was in all her orange glory. I was about to embark on a trip that was to inspire me, show me something new, and eventually be the catalyst for a big change my life, but I didn’t know that at the time. Which is what makes life exciting – we never know!
I had decided to attend a menstrual cycle workshop weekend course down near beautiful Glastonbury, and going on the bike seemed the perfect vehicle for crossing Wales! The thought of driving through beautiful country lanes from the North to the South was idyllic – I imagined buzzy bees, flowers, the smell of freshly mowed grass, tea stops in quaint cafes and plenty of photos… Soon after setting off this became clearly not the case!
The rain set in a few miles down the road and it became definite that I was going to get wet. I can’t tell you much about the journey now except my facial expression probably included a grimace and possibly gritted teeth! The most memorable moment of the journey was when the rain soaked through all my protective clothing and I ended up with a puddle forming on the seat. Icy cold water eventually soaked into my underwear and everything down there went numb…! Aagh!
After de-frosting and settling in by telling the women about my frozen bum, the conversation, amidst giggles, moved on to eco-alternatives to tampons and plastic pads. It was here that I heard about cloth pads for the first time…! After the wonderful course I packed up once more to leave and as I was driving home, to my great joy and gratitude for the synchronous things in life, I chanced across a health food shop and parked up outside. Inside were Eco-Femme pads in pretty packets which I bought straight away, vowing that I would never go back to plastic!
How I didn’t know about cloth pads before amazes me to this day, but I suppose they don’t sell them in any of the health food shops locally and the advertising budget for smaller companies just can’t compete with the industry giants. I wish I had known about them sooner because I could have saved so much plastic going into the Earth. I definitely wouldn’t have been so sensitive ‘down there’ around my time of the month if I hadn’t been exposed to all those chemical nasties in plastic disposables too.
My own school girl experience of finding out about menstruation was during a sexual education lesson with menstruation thrown in there as a confusing ‘side-line’ where the nurse gave us a free bright pink bag with one type of pad and one type of tampon inside then proceeded to horrify us all as she put a condom over a banana. That was the nineties in Britain… sex education was limited and if you managed to get home without a boy nicking your tampon and popping it out to the cries of ‘mouse’ you were lucky…
The most amazing thing about my first Eco Femme pads though, snuggled safely in my biker pocket, was that it got me interested in going out to meet the team in India and seeing what they do, which I did in 2013, and it changed my life and awoke in me this energy and passion I didn’t know I had! Now I tell women everywhere about cloth pads, as it’s never too late to change! If you’re thinking about using cloth, make the switch today!