“In her lifetime, the average woman throws away just over 10,000 pads or tampons. If you’re anything like me and you love the minor comfort of a smooth, mess-free applicator in an otherwise brutal experience (I suffer debilitating period cramps)—suck it up. The earth is going to kill us all if we don’t make slightly inconvenient lifestyle changes like switching to reusable cups or pads.”
A mildy aggresive review of hannah, a certified organic cotton menstrual pad
The Plastic Waste Problem
Reducing plastic waste is on everyone’s mind as the gravity of the problem becomes more and more apparent. Personally, my turning point came after a visit to the Vancouver Aquarium, where pop artist Douglas Coupland held VORTEX: an exhibit highlighting ocean plastic pollution. I waltzed in most interested in seeing a shark, thinking the extent of the artwork would be one or two pieces in a special room, like a graphic declaring “Plastic waste suffocates sea turtles!!!” or some other minimally engaging statement. I was wrong. The exhibit was littered throughout the mammoth aquarium (pun intended), intertwined with the living creatures — anxiety-inducing infographics and powerful factoids to boot. A portion illustrating the grave truth about microplastics specifically cued my inclination to avoid new plastic consumption at all costs. Did you know that there’s so much microscopic plastic waste on earth it’s begun permeating human bodies? I don’t know about you, but I’m not tryna give birth to plastic mounds; I want human babies.
There are several ways to decrease plastic consumption and/or make do recycling the products we have. Saying no to plastic straws is a go-to as of late, but straws are just the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of less obvious plastic uses lurking in our current lifestyles and it’s up to us to take note and change them. Today’s clothing, for example, is largely made up of polyester (a plastic fibre), which means that the crop top you found at the Devil’s Factory on sale for $10 and wore a grand total of 1 time will never biodegrade—it shall walk this earth in the form of a plastic humanoid for all of eternity.
Another plastic-riddled scenario we tend to forget about is a woman’s menstrual cycle. In her lifetime, the average woman throws away just over 10,000 pads or tampons. If you’re anything like me and you love the minor comfort of a smooth, mess-free applicator in an otherwise brutal experience (I suffer debilitating period cramps)—suck it up. The earth is going to kill us all if we don’t make slightly inconvenient lifestyle changes like switching to reusable cups or pads.
My Menstrual Waste Story
My switching to reusable menstrual tools happened gradually. First, I started buying tampons with cardboard applicators, thinking its contents would biodegrade one day, along with my uterine wall somewhere in the ocean. Unfortunately, non-certified organic cotton has no guarantees about what’s in it, and oftentimes, tiny pieces of polyester gets thrown into the mix, rendering the entire product non-recyclable (it’s impossible to separate cotton fibres once they’re blended with synthetic ones). So, I switched to certified organic tampons. That was fine and dandy with alleviating my environmental impact guilt, until I realized I have way too much student debt to literally be flushing my hard-earned money down the bloody toilet. Finally, I got a menstrual cup about half a year ago and it’s since been my trusty sidekick for that time of the month. However, it’s not always convenient to dig around in my leaky vagina, nor is it always favourable to have a foreign object lodged inside my body.
And with that I tried out hannah for the very first time. Hannah is a certified organic cotton pad that you can wash and reuse over a couple of years. At the end of its life cycle, you toss its snaps into a recycling bin and the rest of it into the compost and the pad happily melts back into the earth like you and I will one day!
The Skinny on Hannah Reusables
Obviously, reusables aren’t for everybody. Because I already had previous experience touching my own period blood through using a menstrual cup, I had no problems keeping and washing my used hannah pads. Plus, placing and removing a menstrual cup is a hellish experience most of the time; it’s a nice to have to only worry about mess and blood at a designated laundry time, instead of when you’re out and about and your cup spilleth over.
Hannah has several notable features; here are the ones I personally enjoy:
They’re made of certified organic cotton, so they’re soft, good for your skin and the environment
They have high quality snap buttons, so you can snap them in place on your panties or snap them closed when you’re done
They have a variety of shapes, sizes and colours to choose from. I personally like my pads to be massive, like diapers, so I got the Ultra Overnight
They’re leak proof and stay in place. The bottom side has a slightly rubbery surface, so once you place them they don’t budge
They’re biodegradable. Once they’re in the compost, it takes just a year for them to biodegrade, unlike regular pads
They’re wallet-friendly, since you don’t have to keep buying disposable options
Just try it. You have nothing to lose and the earth needs you to care.