Disposables and reusables – can we save any money here by diy?

Dec 10, 2015 | 9 comments


Disposables and reusables – can we save any money here by diy?

On Tuesday, I met a neighbour on the street and we got to chatting, as you do. After the ‘how are you’s’ and ‘what have you been up to’s’, J told me about a project her church is doing involving re-usable sanitary wear for girls and women in Uganda, Kenya and Syria. The WI had recently sent round something similar and I was intrigued, so I agreed to spend Wednesday evening at the meeting seeing what they got up to.

They had a whole production line going making packs. Each pack contains a pad holder that clips around the gusset of a pair of knickers. Many very poor women may not even have access to knickers, so the pack also includes an elastic attachment that goes around the waist and holds the pads firmly in place. Each pad goes into the holder or belt and is securely held. There are 5 pads and 2 thicker ones for night wear. There is a small bag to hold spare pads, to carry with the woman during the day, and to hold used ones, until they can be washed. The small bags are made from pretty fabric, so are discreet and don’t advertise what they are. I still remember the walk of ‘shame’ whilst I was at work in an office, to  the ladies loos, with a tampon in my hand, trying to hide it from the public gaze.

Both the pad holder and the pads have a waterproof layer for extra security. Each is made from pretty fabric, which makes the whole thing feel feminine, and attractive, rather than functional.  They were even matching the fabric used for the pad holders and the pads, making the whole thing a very attractive, and feminine, package. The outer layer can be any material, and the group were using salvaged curtains from a very posh hotel, then each pad has a waterproof layer, a towelling layer, and a soft, next to the body layer that can be made from brushed cotton sheets, t-shirts or similar.

I know this concept is not for everyone, but if you are living on a minimal budget, the cost of disposable monthly sanitary wear can be significant. I am thinking I might write it all up as a tutorial and charge a small sum, say £3, for the download. All proceeds to go to the local foodbank. What do you think?

The driving force of all this activity says that she is thinking of doing the same thing with nappies next. I know that many families would like to use reusable nappies, but that the outlay at the beginning, when there are so any other baby essentials to buy, is too daunting.  Disposable nappies cost hundreds of pounds for each child. If that cost could be eliminated with an outlay of just a few £’s up front, and the cost of laundering as you go along, I think many would be interested.  Again, what do you think? Is this something that it would be worth  pursuing and providing a resource for?

I would be very interested to know what you think about this



  1. ShoestringJane

    And our marvellous government classes sanitary products as luxury items. Pah! I didn’t get on with my mooncup but they are a good idea. I also have washable towels. They save a lot of money.

  2. Sarah

    I also use a mooncup and washable sanitary wear and I only used washable nappies with washable liners for both of my children, many of which were preloved and have now been passed on and used in new homes.

  3. Debbie

    I’ve been using a mooncup forat least 7 years now, wouldn’t have anything else now.

  4. faithless

    I think this idea where they can be made locally and turned into micro-businesses is probably better for low income areas:

    Personally, I use a Mooncup – way cheaper, lasts for years, only need one so presumably better for the environment.

  5. Katherine

    Even though it would be for a good cause, I think you might be charging for something someone else does better for free elsewhere.

    I also recommend using a mooncup, but a diaphragm would avoid the initial outlay and has greater capacity.

  6. ZolaSpud

    I use a mooncup too. A lot less faff than washable towels. I highly recommend it 🙂

  7. Lesley

    reusable tampons! Gosh, hadn’t even thought about those!
    I am avoiding having another go with the seitan it’s true, but I will. Have pinged you

  8. Paula

    Hi Lesley. I already use reusable sanitary products, mostly a mooncup which is a different concept entirely but also I use reusable pads (as you described) and reusable tampons! Something I only recently heard about. Find them all great and so much better for your pocket and the environment. They are several groups on FB dedicated to them and making them, I can point you in right direction of you pop me a pm. And I need to talk to you about the seitan! I know you are avoiding the subject! Lol

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Thrifty Lesley has an associated Facebook Group. Do come over and say hello if you haven’t already joined. I’d love to see you!

I’m a perpetual dieter, and to help with that endeavour, there is now also a Thrifty Lesley dieting group, a lovely, growing community.