Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Disposables, Reusables and Guilt

I frequent a number of cloth pad communities (yes, there are communities dedicated to cloth pads!), and every so often, somebody will talk about the guilt they felt (or feel) about using disposable pads.

This makes me sad.

There are lots of reasons to switch to cloth pads - including a desire to minimise your impact on the environment - but guilt should not be one of them. Finding cloth more comfortable than disposables, or being attracted by pretty fabrics are equally legitimate reasons. How you deal with your period should always be your choice, and nobody should feel guilt-tripped into using (or not using) a certain product.

We women already have enough guilt inflicted on us by the unrealistic standards touted by the media. We do not need guilt about our choice of menstrual products added to this load. The right choice of menstrual protection is whatever works best for you, be it disposable or reusable. If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, remind them that your body is nobody's business but yours.


  1. I wound up keeping them in case my niece needed them. Recently, someone I know was collecting tornado supplies. I just packed them all up. I figured they wouldn't mind a half used box of pads.

  2. That's a really great idea Shannon. I think some women's shelters accept donations of disposable pads too.

    This is also a good example of how circumstances beyond our control can dictate what type of menstrual product we use, and why nobody has the right to judge. :)

  3. Good points, but when I hear guilt I don't necessarily make the connection to judgment, or judgment by other people. Guilt can be a positive thing when it motivates people to improve their behavior.

    I too felt guilty for throwing disposables away, switched to cloth, and felt better - not only because I wasn't creating the extra waste but because cloth pads are more comfortable and work better for me. It has nothing to to with what other people think.

    But you're right that if a person were using cloth pads out of guilt and didn't like them, that would be sad.

  4. Perhaps "shame" is a more appropriate word, since that comes from an external source. I guess "guilt" is more of an personal sense of culpability.

    Being aware of what you throw away and wanting to do something about it is obviously a great thing! But I do think the decision to try cloth has to be a one you reach on your own. It shouldn't be something you are shamed into.

    For example, I cringe when people talk of attempting to "convert" somebody else to reusables. Make them aware of their options, absolutely. But then leave them alone to make their own decision - and respect it.

    Thanks for the discussion!

  5. Confession: sometimes, when my period is too heavy for a cloth pad to keep it in control, I use a tampon AND a cloth pad together. I always feel guilty for being a cloth pad seller and doing this. I know that I shouldn't and that there is nobody's business, but I still do

  6. As my grandmother used to say, "Mind your own beeswax and let others mind theirs."

    I can't wear my cloth pads at work, due to the nature of my job. I can't carry around all the ginormous pads I need, plus the wetbag, plus go to the bathroom every single hour. When I wear disposables, I can fit several in my pockets and change them less often.

    I wear my cloth gals at home and when I go out where I can take my bag with me, which still reduces waste, although not as much as I'd like.

    If anyone has a problem with my use of disposables, they can tell me about it after they give up their air polluting cars and their landfill-clogging iPods. They can also carry my bags around and restrain my clients while I dash off to the bathroom hourly to forestall another leak (or change my clothes because cloth pads do not absorb fast enough for me). The ideal of being eco-friendly is a good one but not always 100% workable for everyone.