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Women have the gift of embodying cyclical wisdom through their monthly periods. In rhythm with the moon, our bodies progress through a twenty-eight day cycle, which can culminate in the creation of new life. If this is not magical and life-affirming, then I don’t know what is.

I see the female fertility cycle as being a gateway to meaningful connection with nature that is unique to women and physical evidence of nature’s infinite intelligence and women’s special place in the web of creation. Bleeding can be a deeply empowering experience if viewed as an expression of nature’s cyclical wisdom.

“Woman’s Cycle” by Zeal Harris. Oil painting.

I don’t need to remind you that menstruation is seldom celebrated by mainstream culture as a source of female empowerment. I would like to point out, however, that bleeding doesn’t have to be seen as taboo, nor does it have to become another area of human life overridden by the dictates of “throw-away” consumerism. Indeed low-impact periods can have a positive impact on women’s health and the environment.

Did you know that:

  • In the course of her lifetime, a woman will generate approximately 150kg of disposable sanitary waste?
  • 1 disposable pad contains the same amount of plastic as 4 plastic bags?
  • It takes up to 800 years for a disposable pad to decompose in a landfill?
  • Disposable pads and tampons have been found to contain toxic chemicals hazardous to human health?
  • The incineration of disposable pads releases carcinogenic dioxins into the atmosphere?

It should come as no surprise that disposable pads and tampons can have negative consequences for women’s health and for our planet. Fortunately, we have access to sustainable and women-positive alternatives.

Earth-Positive and Women-Positive Alternatives

Eco Femme’s full range of washable pads. Photo courtesy of Eco Femme.

Say “hello” to Eco Femme, a women-run sustainable enterprise based in Auroville, India that produces and sells washable cloth pads and provides menstrual health education to adolescents. For every pad purchased, Eco Femme donates a cloth pad to a girl, or woman in India through their Pad For Pad program.

Girls learning to track the menstrual cycle using seeds during a Pad for Pad session. Photo coutesy of Eco Femme.

How’s that for woman-positive action? There’s nothing quite like empowering women whilst sustainably managing your period! 😉 This is the reason I became an Eco Femme Ambassador!

Eco Femme Day Pad with the back side in view

Crafted from a brushed flannel cotton top layer, an ultra-absorbent cotton flannel inner layer and a decorative printed cotton bottom layer, Eco Femme reusable pads are designed to last approximately 5 years, or 75 washes. Consider the environmental impact of avoiding of 5 years worth of disposable pads and tampons!

I can also highly recommend the certified organic cotton washable pads of Kulmine, an Osnabrück-based maker and seller of ecological women’s hygiene products. This is an excellent option for anyone living in Germany who is looking to shop locally.

My first set of washable pads from Kulmine that I bought last summer.

I currently have six reusable pads: three standard size pads for medium blood flow and three slightly longer sized pads for heavier blood flow. I use on average 10 pads through the course of a single cycle lasting approximately 5-6 days: meaning that half-way through my period, I run a load of laundry to make sure I have enough pads to last the duration. I personally don’t pre-soak the pads in cold water, but this is recommended to avoid staining. I just wash them along with socks and underwear at 60 degrees Celsius and hang them to dry. My pads are made with darker fabric, so if there is staining, it is minimal and barely noticeable.

When you have finished using the pad, your fold it up and snap the wings together and then can place that into a cloth pouch to keep in your bag until you get home and can put it in the laundry basket. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy (which translates, to “super-simple” for those of you who are new to that term).

How cool is it that there are so many ways to have an Earth-positive period these days? Whether you are a fan of reuseable pads, medical-grade silicon menstrual cups, or washable period panties, it is easier than ever to break free from a cultural paradigm of disposability and to cycle sustainably with nature.

Eco Femme Day Pad and Tinka Care medical-grade silicon Menstrual Cup

Much love and happy cycling,

Jenna

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