The cloth menstrual pads, also called reusable pads are making their way back!
At a time Zimbabwe is facing economic challenges, reusable pads, displaced by disposable pads seem to be raising their brows high again.
The general perception is on the increase in women advocating, embracing and choosing sustainable, reusable menstruation products over disposable pads and tampons in recent years.
These are merely washable pads and were there before disposable pads made their way in from as early as 1888.
Before that, people used fabrics of different types, grass, animal skins and cloth materials made of cotton wool. When cloths were used, they could be washed and reused again.
However, economic challenges in Zimbabwe have been the major reason why reusable pads are finding their way back.
In recent years, girls were reportedly using tree leaves, illustrating the grave reality of lack of access.
As such, some of girls in the rural areas do not go to school during their periods. Additionally, there have been reports of girls using tree leaves, newspapers, cow dung as sanitary wear in what was a desperate situation.
Some advantages of the cloth menstrual pad that have been largely responsible for their increasing popularity savings.
The cost of investing in reusable will vary based on cycle length, preferences and other factors, but for most women, it will end up costing less than buying disposables each month. Reusable pads can be used until they wear out.
Head of Media, Marketing and Public Relations SAfAIDS, Ms Tariro Makanga said women and girls cannot meet the cost of purchasing pads which now ranges from US$2-US$8.
“They are less expensive in the long run. Women spend quite a good amount of money purchasing disposable pads. Reusable pads, however, are far less expensive, especially if made by hand. They can be hand-made at home or purchased.
“Sanitary wear is a necessity for the girl child. Despite that fact, access is still a major challenge due to the cost of either cotton wool, pads or even tampons. Reusable pads are a noble idea in a way, but for the Zimbabwean situation, there is a hygienic challenge associated with them as well as the costs involved,” Makanga said.
The fact remains, though, that you have to wash your own menstrual blood out of them, and that’s bound to be a hard sell for some people.
In terms of practical hygiene. Isn’t that dirty? With shortages of running water in Zimbabwe, wouldn’t it be gross? Cloth menstrual pad may mean doing some laundry with blood-stained cloth, which some women will not want to do.
Zemqos co-ordinator, Bridget Maungwa, who are promoting SafePads, a reusable pad in Zimbabwe attributed its health benefits that comes with reusable pads. The reusable products do not contain any chemicals, making them a safer option.
“Generally, reusable pads provide safe, hygienic and infection free alternatives to girls and women from all diverse background and distressed communication. We are promoting SafePads that are designed with a permanently bonded antimicrobial chemical that kills bacteria and fungi,”Maungwa added.
“Some of the chemicals are used to enhance the pads’ absorption has been said to cause rashes and skin irritation in the genital areas. Wearing a tampon for a long stretch of time and using high absorbent tampons can increase the chance of getting infections. Cloth menstrual pad tend to reduce the odour of menstrual blood more,” Maungwa added.
The debate around using either organic or disposable female hygiene products also stems from a health and environmental view point. Reusable pads have been seen as environment friendly.
Millions of disposable pads are not biodegradable and will potentially prove unfriendly to the environment.
Million dollar question
Would you use reusable sanitary pads?
To the elite class, reusable pads remains a taboo and intimidating concept.
Others are of the opinion that using the product represent a step backwards. It is for that reason that it market is slim, targeting the poor.
The washing and drying depends on the user. They may hand or machine-washed. They may also be dried using a liner or the drying machine.
But is it practical to carrying them around? What do I do with the soiled pad when I have to change the pad out of home? You will have to use what is available to you. You may not be able to wash or rinse them immediately. Like any products, its criticism is inevitable, the convenience of disposables is not there.
They will have to be washed and water issues in Zimbabwe may arise in some cases.