Guest Blog by Mhairi Cochrane Co-founder
Our journey began in rural Kenya in 2017 after we discovered that many young girls were unable to access to period products. To these girls access to period products meant that could remain in school and we were shocked to discover that many were being forced to endanger themselves to do so.
We were committed to making a change and began making reusable period pads here in the UK. Lilypads now work with charity partners around the world setting up collaborative initiatives which increase access to period products and menstrual health education.
When setting up this initiative and trialling our reusable period pads we quickly realised that many of us are unhappy with their products. We identified an opportunity to provide a solution to the discomfort caused by disposable pads and began work developing our won product.
Where we are now
For the past 2 years we have been developing our own reusable period pad. Speaking to hundreds of people about their periods we leaned into the problems and listened. The common story we heard was that disposable pads felt itchy and bulky. For those wearing tampons or cups, many were wearing pads as a back-up as well, which were uncomfortable and an added expense.
At a time when we are all making more sustainable choices, we also saw a need for a product which was sustainable but most importantly accessible. Disposable pads are made up of up to 90% plastic, leading to lots of plastic waste. Although there are reusable pads out there, many remain bulky and do not absorb quickly. Period underwear can be too great an expense or tricky to change during the day.
Recognising the key needs and working with over 10 textile specialists we met our 4 key objectives; increase the absorbency of the pad, reduce the thickness to the same as a disposable, fitting the pad to your body and ensuring it is cheaper than a year’s worth of disposables. Our pads were launched in July 2020. Sales from our ads supports our work around the world ensuring that everyone can have access to period products.
Why more needs to change when it comes to periods
Although we have made great steps to period equity, we have to keep pushing further. The taboo surrounding periods is still very prevalent within society. As a result, progress is being stalled. Lilypads recognised that we cannot make progress without education. We have developed our own education programme focused on teaching periods and puberty in a fun, inclusive and effective way. We work with schools and Universities to deliver this programme with the aim of ensuring young people have the tools to understand everyone’s unique experiences as they go through puberty and can begin to challenge stereotypes or assumptions surrounding gender and periods.
The key questions
Reusable products can still feel quite scary when trying them for the first time. Lilypads blog explores some of the common questions many of us have and real people’s experiences of trying them for the first time. Below are some of the most common questions we get asked.
What is the difference between a reusable menstrual and disposable pad?
Well, to us they’re almost identical, other than the fact that a reusable one when you finish wearing it you chuck it in the washing machine you hang on the line just as you would the pair of underwear. And then you use it again. And so, absorbs the blood, the washing machine washes it, and then it’s good to go again. On the other hand, is single use once absorbs the blood. There’s no way for it to be used again.
How do reusable pads work?
Our pad is made up of three layers. The top layer of the pad is super soft, so it feels just like you’re wearing your normal underwear. The technical materials are super absorbent and make sure that the moisture absorbs instantly so it will not feel damp or irritating. The unique style, shape and thinness of the pad makes our pads super comfy and also make sure that the pad will not bunch up or disintegrate throughout the day.
Blood or liquid is absorbed through that soft top layer into the core of the pad where it’ll stay until washed. The core of our pads can absorb much more than a normal disposable pad. As a result, we can keep our pads as thin as any disposable whilst making them much more absorbent. This means you don’t need to worry about a pad line showing through your clothes.
The bottom layer of the pad is waterproof to give you added security that there won’t be any leaks. The black fabric of the pad also means you don’t need to worry about it showing through certain clothing and can make you feel confident.
This blog has been written by Mhairi Cochrane – many thanks for sharing your story!
This blog is part of our collaboration where I want to share information with my community and help inspire people into action. I hope you enjoyed this guest blog and I’m looking forward to having more of these guest blogs online.
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