Tag Archive | reusable

How to make your own menstrual pads- a very simple pattern

Sweet mercy it’s been busy around here. Aside from my normal chores and tending the children, I’ve been working on a great many gifts and preparing for harvest season. Usually craft season doesn’t begin until the apples demand picking, but due to our growing family, we’ve a great many more birthdays, and we’re celebrating more holidays with family. Between the extra food preparation to compensate for our food allergies and making gifts, I’m ashamed to say we’ve enjoyed our fair share of cold plates and messes.

But that’s neither here nor there- let’s talk about these little packages!

I honestly started making these for a variety of reasons. Here are some reasons you might want to make some too:

  • Allergies or sensitive skin- Many personal care products are loaded with perfume, and the adhesive sometimes has latex, or wheat or corn based glue. Also, some of them are starched.
  • Health- Many of these products are also bleached, and bleach can damage your natural PH, leading to infection or irritation. Also, due to the plastic involved, you’re not allowing air circulation…plastic wrapped vagina anyone?
  • Environmental concern- In addition to containing plastic, which rapes the planet, imagine how much waste these products make. They cause garbage, but also the manufacturing process creates waste, and increases the carbon footprint.
  • Comfort- I’m sorry, but who enjoys crunchy paper bits down there? Not. Me. These things are like a pillow- at a time when you could really use something soft and cushiony.
  • Privacy- This is a weird one, but you or your adolescent may feel self-conscious about the loud noise caused by opening up a pad and placing it into a clanging bin inside a stall.

And did I mention they’re PRETTY!

I made these out of an old cotton towel and some fabric scraps. Depending on how thick your towel is or how heavy your flow is, you may want to add more than one layer of towel. Some makers use layers of flannel. I prefer cotton and terry. You’ll also need to model these after a pad that you already use. You don’t have to make all the same size, but you’ll need to make more than one template obviously if you do.

The first step is to trace your pad. I traced mine twice, and when I cut out the first one, I only cut out a contour of it without wings. The pink part, the part without wings, will be your inside stuffing template that you’ll use to cut your towel or flannel.

With the second template, make sure you extend the length of the wings so that they overlap substantially in the back, enough to put velcro or snaps later. Then, grab a ruler and make tick marks all around your shape to set up a seam allowance. I am very accustomed to a quarter inch seam allowance because I enjoy using my machine as a guide, but you can use a half inch seam allowance if you’re a novice or you have a hard time seeing. Once I have my tick marks, I just connect the dots and cut out my second shape.

Next, use your first shape to trace onto the towel. I made 2 dozen shapes because that’s how many pads I was making. When you cut out these shapes, cut INSIDE the line you drew. This will accommodate the space it will take up as stuffing inside.

Then you’re going to trace your second shape onto your prints, cotton or flannel. Remember, that when you’re tracing your shapes, double the fabric up with the right sides facing eachother, basically tracing on the back. You’ll need two of the second template per pad.

Take one side of the second template (with wings), and pin one of the first template (of the towel or the layers of flannel) to the wrong side of the fabric.

Sew it around the edge, with the quarter inch seam allowance. It will look like this on the back:

Don’t worry if it’s perfect- remember what these are going to be used for. Don’t forget to remove your pins. Next, sew the second part of the pair with wings to the first part with the right sides facing in towards eachother. You can pin them together while you sew if you need to. Start on the side of one end and sew around, leaving the end open so you can turn it right side out.

Turn it right side out and turn in your seam allowance. Pin it in place and sew it shut. You can do it by hand or use a machine.

Once it’s sewn shut, iron it.

Next, iron the wings down so that they overlap on the back.

Now, you can choose whether or not you want snaps or velcro closures. Velcro is easier because you can sew it on with a machine. You can even get iron-on velcro that you can first iron into place and then reinforce stitch on the machine, or you can drop a stitch into regular velcro to hold it into place. The velcro can also be applied horizontally so that the wings are adjustable. I chose tiny pieces of velcro because I have very sensitive skin and am very small, and in my experience, large or adjustable velcro manages to come into contact with my skin and scratch it.

To care for these, simply put them into a bucket or basin of water with some of the homemade laundry soap recipe featured on the site, or in a basin of baking soda and water. When it comes time to wash, which should be at least every other day, simply drain the water into the toilet and wash the pads in the washer. Do not use bleach. If there is a problem with yeast or mildew smell, simply add tea tree oil to the wash load with extra baking soda and borax.

When traveling, a small pouch can be made out of PLU lining and cotton. My cousin made me one that is nice with a zipper, but even a reusable sandwich bag purchased at your local health food store would suffice.

Green your bathroom, one step at a time: Natural toiletries and DIY

Does this picture give you heartburn? Well, if it doesn’t it should. And hopefully this post will explain why.

This used to be my bathroom. I’ve been collecting the contents/bottles as we empty them for the purpose of explaining that greening your bathroom is truly a journey. A lot of people don’t have access to green toiletries and have to order them online, which sets them up for a huge variety, and nothing hands-on to look at directly. Like learning how to get a taste for organic food, choosing natural products and using them takes an adjustment period.

First, I strongly recommend you go watch “Bag It” on Netflix. The author points out that not only is plastic not able to be recycled in many instances, but REDUCING is the first step to limiting our environmental footprint. Additionally, he points out that there’s actually plastic IN these things- not just from leaching, but as part of the actual product. YUCK! (and ouch…since those plastic are responsible for cancer, and many other diseases that he points out- like a tiny penis.)

Did I have you at tiny penis? Alright then, let’s begin.

FIVE of those bottles are shampoo- Herbal Essence, Organix, and Johnsons and Johnsons Natural baby shampoo. That’s a lot of plastic every month (especially since it’s not the only plastic). I found this article on Herbal Essence that said they were “reducing” the amount of 1,4-dioxane in them (source). It’s a carcinogen, but it’s not required to be labeled because it’s a bi-product of manufacturing, not an ingredient. This is completely aside from the point that it contains dye, perfume, petroleum, harsh surfactants, sulfates and silicones that build up on your hair. And Organix? I chose it because it’s gluten free and sulfate free, but organic it is NOT. Just as gross as Herbal Essence in my humble opinion.

You’re going to love this next one- that baby shampoo has pot in it. Check out THIS article. (I originally saw it here)

Are you ready to ditch that nasty shit?! Perfect.

Here’s what I use now for shampoo. It’s J.R. Liggetts Damaged Hair Formula, and my daughter uses the Jojoba and Peppermint. Turns out the Herbal Essence caused so much silicone buildup that despite it’s “moisturizing” properties, it gave her dandruff. Now, I read the reviews before buying it- it’s a win that it doesn’t come in plastic- but a lot of people complained about strange things.

That reminds me- Google “no poo method”. Same reviews. Though, I don’t recommend no-poo method because it takes ages for your hair to adjust, and is not good for textured or dry/damaged hair. I have both.

Our extra soap dishes turned up useful for our shampoo bar storage- they’re soft so they need to drain well.

The deal with non-commercial/chemical methods is that they don’t coat your hair in plastic to make you look or smell like Barbie. They work by (to loosely quote the Liggett’s site) “not stripping your hair of its natural oils and allowing those to condition your hair.” Basically shampoo’s job is to clean away dirt, not sterilize it *chuckles*, and you need conditioner because it washes all of your natural stuff away. This process definitely takes time- you have a lifetime’s worth of buildup on your hair. I say anywhere from 2-6wks is normal.

This is the soap ball I keep in my kitchen. Soap balls are made from scraps from making soap, and are harsher than regular soap, which is perfect for greasy kitchen hands.

As far as soap, follow the same rules as shampoo. If you’re using body wash and a puff, throw the puff away because they’re incredibly gross. They collect bacteria sitting in your shower, and you never really “wash” them. Imagine using the same washcloth every day…because essentially that’s what you’re doing. And they’re plastic. Get a bar of Dr.Bronner’s soap- it’s safe, non-drying, comes perfume free, and organic.

Now let’s talk dental care. It’s definitely something to take seriously. Dental problems are painful and expensive. You need your teeth for life! If you don’t know why flouride is toxic waste by now, I also encourage you to Google THAT. I remember when Tom’s of Maine had aluminum tubes, but they sold out to big biz and now everything is plastic. Hey Tom’s of Maine- I don’t give a rat’s ass if your tubes are made from recycled plastic. NOW WHAT? WTH am I going to do with this tube?! Well, you can shove that tube where the sun don’t shine because I’m making my own toothpaste now. I’ll be making a video on this process hopefully, but I basically used this brilliant lady’s recipe!

I also looked for plastic-free floss and toothbrushes. Unfortunately, this is the best I could find, and it’s made of nylon (reportedly- I’ve emailed the company and I’ll keep you posted). It comes in a cardboard box, which beats the plastic container, but one of the reviews says the product inside is wrapped in plastic. I found silk floss as well, but it also came in a plastic box. Toothbrushes are a sticky one too- most are made of nylon bristles, and thick plastic handles. I recommend these.

They’re made of bamboo (a renewable resource, and not hog hair- which is cruel and disgusting), and they come in a biodegradable box. The price is very nice as well, and they come in soft, and for children. I have yet to buy either of these products because I’m trying to “reduce” by using the items I had stocked in my home, but when I go out to purchase more, this is what I’ll be getting.

And do your armpits stink? If you can’t go vegan (which makes the stink go away if you do it right), you probably need deodorant. Tom’s of Maine is great, but it comes in a plastic container. When you’re done with your current stick (remember…reduce), use this recipe to repack it! Other options are rock salt (which comes in a plastic wrapper), or other aluminum-free sticks or roll-ons. Aluminum in deodorant has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and it’s made to clog the sweat glands of the underarms, which are designed to secret toxins and the sweat is to cool you off (this is your body’s air conditioner).

Ahhhh LOTION! I am one ashy woman. Maine weather really fluctuates which causes most of it, and then there’s the fact that I’m allergic to nature, pets, food, and life in general. I could take a bunch of crap to make it go away, and even coat myself with chemicals. But I’m much happier smothering myself with coconut oil. You can also use shea butter, but it DOES build up on your clothes. If you shower at night, by morning, the coconut oil will be well absorbed and won’t get on your day clothes. I’ve also been looking into making lotion bars, but if this recipe seems too daunting, you can buy them on Etsy in a million different varieties. Shea and coconut can also be used to replace the calming serums in the above pictures, or put in the night before the next morning’s shower.

The next two suggestions are for women I suppose. Or really interesting men. I want to talk about makeup first. I read on a homesteading blog that “going natural” was a homesteading concept. Unfortunately, I’m of the opinion that makeup can actually protect your skin. I suppose I should enlighten myself. You’ll notice above that I use Neutrogena because it’s gluten free, but it’s definitely full of crap. I used to buy Burt’s Bees before they sold out to big biz, because their cosmetics weren’t full of crap, and even came in metal tins. Guess they prefer to rape the environment now. I heard Ecco Bella is organic, gluten free, and vegan, and maybe mineral makeup is, but until I’m enlightened, I have to admit…I may just stick to my non-twenty-two-dollar mascara. As with everything, I’m open to suggestions.

But sanitary pads? Now that’s something I do. Maybe this is tmi, but I’m really disinterested in suffering through plastic-sealed periods (because pads are plastic coated), irritation, and other grossness. So I made my own.  If you’re not a sew-er, there are a lot of women on Etsy making them, or you can get some at lunapads.com. I also should clarify, from much protest of other women, that these do NOT have to be bleached, and that bleach is bad for your reproductive organs and our water supply.

One weird thing that I wanted to talk about is why cough drops are individually wrapped. Is this a germ exposure thing? Because typically when you have a cold or virus, you become immune to it and won’t get it again. This is not true of norovirus, but usually that doesn’t give you a sore throat. And after a winter with it, I have to say, you are tempted to burn your house down, so just throw the whole damn bag away. Anyway, I digress, and what I am trying to point out is that your candy *ahem* COUGHDROPS contain too much plastic and uselessness. Sugar also breeds bacteria, which could make your symptoms worse. So try these amazing little cough drops that come in a cardboard box and waxed paper, called Thayers. The slippery elm has numbing effects on a sore throat like Cepacol. I’ve also seen them in a tin.

Other random things to think about the next time you go out to buy them are sunscreen, bug spray, nail brushes, hair brushes, and razors. The sunscreen in this above picture was very expensive, but it doesn’t contain chemicals. In addition to that, the bug spray by Badgers (who makes many organic and gluten free products) is more effective than Off, lasts literally all day, and doesn’t contain deet. If you need a little extra tick protection, add 4 or more drops of tea tree oil to a spray bottle of water and use that first. Aside from the obvious, which is that you should avoid plastic, if you’re in the market for a brush or nail brush, you should keep the one you have to reduce waste if it’s still functional, or buy natural fibers. A bamboo brush in particular distributes oil from the scalp down the hairshaft. Some, like the photo below, have plastic components, but not all. And last but not least, there are many razors on the market that are not only made of recycled plastic, but have removable heads. Preserve makes a women’s razor called Recycline that is made from recycled Stonyfield yogurt cups and has replaceable heads, and is CHEAPER THAN VENUS!

And there you have it. I clearly have a lot of videos to make now.