Today I’m going the easy route and posting an email I received from my sister who lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (hurricane land). Men, if you are still reading, this letter is women specific, so unless you want to read on for the women in your lives, TURN BACK NOW. Okay, you have been warned, here’s her email:
So I was thinking about your blog the other day, and I was feeling very lame because I did not do much stuff for myself. And I thought – man, we have two hurricanes a year here, and if anyone should be prepared for that crap, it’s probably me. But before I could feel too lame, I remembered that I DO have useful, frugal knowledge about some stuff, I just forgot about it. So I thought I would share it with you!
Last September when Hurricane Gustav came, I was without power for three whole weeks. The stores were closed for two weeks solid, and the city services – like garbage removal – didn’t come for two weeks either. So, something that I learned: periods are not fun in a disaster. You never think about tampons until you need them. And can’t get them. ANYWHERE.
So, you’d think it would make sense to stock up on tampons just like you do toilet paper, etc. But here’s the thing – when the garbage isn’t getting picked up for weeks, and it’s 100 degrees in your house because you have no air conditioner, having a bunch of used tampons laying around in the garbage gets really really gross. Plus you run out of tampons very quickly if you are me.
So after the hurricane mess was over, my girlfriends and I were talking and I found out that a lot of them had the same problem. So we all got what’s called “The Keeper” (cheesy, I know) www.thekeeper.com. It is VERY awesome. It’s a little rubber cup that catches all the mess. You buy it once and it lasts ten years, so it’s WAY cheaper than tampons. And you just empty it, rinse it, and use it again. (Of course – this assumes you have running water.) Anyway, you never run out of tampons and you don’t have gross tampon trash filling up your house and eventually filling up the landfills. And they’re way comfortable. They don’t look like it, but I promise they are. There’s also the Diva Cup www.divacup.com, but it’s made in Canada and the Keeper is made in the U.S.
But it gets better! We all thought – what about the last couple days of your period when the flow is really light and you don’t want a rubber cup up there for barely anything. Normally you’d just use little Carefree panty-liners or something like that. But those get gross in the trash too, and are cheaper than tampons but still pretty pricey over your lifetime. So you go back to the old times and MAKE YOUR OWN! Wahoo! There are patterns everywhere online for homemade pads, and you can make them as thick or thin as you want them, and you can make them to fit your own underwear. AND they stay put with little Velcro wings or snaps. Way cheaper and way more handy in a disaster than the disposable ones. (This also assumes you have water to wash them with.) My friends hand-sewed theirs, but I refuse to do that, so I just told mom to make me some. She thought it was gross, but I think it’s useful.
Anyway, that is my one preparedness tidbit that I learned the hard way.
Note from Angela: I have been stocking feminine hygiene supplies in my storage, but they’ll only last so long, and then what? Hmmmm. Might be worth checking out. Here is a site with patterns and instructions for making your own pads (I’m not sure I’m quite there yet, but interesting nonetheless).
Keep preparing! Angela
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Interesting. I never thought about it quite like that. It’s good to have some ideas from people who have lived through stuff like that.
I’ve actually heard of the Diva Cup. I also am stocked up on tampons (hooray for warehouse stores) but was sort of in the “what after that place”. Awesome idea, I’ll check it out.
One more note about the Keeper vs. the Diva Cup – The Keeper is already a red color, whereas the Diva Cup comes white or clear-ish. My friends who have the Diva Cup have informed me that it ends up stained red anyway, so – unless you have a latex allergy – you may as well start with the red one :)
I’ve used the Diva Cup for years. I have heard anecdotally that the days you have your period can go down, as the silicone of the cups aren’t as irritating as the cotton/paper/whatever fibers and chemicals of the tampons. I have noticed mine is shorter too.
Interesting – ever since my friend in AK asked me about this, I’m seeing it pop up in both preparedness, frugal living and green circles. Love it!
I have previously been well stocked on tampons and liners, but I’m considering switching to the Keeper at some point in the near future. Just because using the “mainstream” hygiene products means we are (literally) throwing away money spent on them.
I honestly had no clue there was even such a thing out there. I think definitely worth looking into. My periods have always been pretty light though so not sure how it would work for me. Hope you’re feeling better Angela!
There are several Etsy shops that sell cloth pads, if you want to buy them premade.
Well, I don’t have to worry about stockpiling tampons and pads anymore because I had an emergency hysterectomy in 1996. (I’m not getting into how much I wish I would have refused this surgery.) However, I do worry about haircolor. So I’m a “wanna live off grid” gal and preparing to do so someday in the not too distant future, but I still like to cover my little bit of gray. Believe me, I’ve thought about it. A lot. And then I’ve thought about how shallow that is for me, to want to color my hair. And it’s so toxic, with all those chemicals. But I think these products you’ve posted about are brilliant and I would certainly consider them if I still had a need. I think I may have to post about haircolor on my blog. Thanks for sharing.
Amen Sista!! I bought my Diva Cup a few years ago and still think “where have you been all my life?” Like when I was backpacking across the wilderness, camping on desolate beaches, wandering the streets in the middle of the night trying to buy tampons… you know.
Anyway, love the Diva Cup and highly recommend it to all who hate trash.
As far as your warning to men reading this post, I think any man that lives with any woman that menstruates (wife, daughter, sister, ect) should read this in case the women in their lives aren’t prepper-oriented.
Why? Because I know how my mood can flare if I suddenly find myself out of feminine products, and thankfully it didn’t happen during my two hurricanes and one major flood either. My usually normal mood changes into a combination of panic, anger and tears the moment I found the container empty.
I’m pre-menopausal now, so I have no idea when my next period will be, and how long they’ll last. I’ll be ordering a Diva cup even though my time is nearing an end, just to make sure I’m not caught empty-handed, especially living on the coast.
I used one of these for about 10 years, and, until about the last year when things got seriously heavy, it worked great.
Well, I can't say you didn't warn me. I will follow your advice next time.
I make and use my own pads. They are wonderful! Soft, absorbent and rarely leak. I made a pattern by tracing a store bought nighttime sized pad. I picked up flannel baby receiving blankets at the thrift store and then added layers of old bath towels in between and sewed all the layers together. I tried making some with wings and velcro or even ribbons to tie around my panties, but I found that they were annoying and it works just as well to do without, but you could add these features if you want. I use two or more in my undies on heavy days and just one as a liner on light days. They work really well and are so simple to make. I made a set of about 12 three years ago and they still work well and look fairly nice still. Also risking TMI.. they breathe better, being cotton and all and without the plastic liner and so I find them more comfortable and less sweaty and sticky down there. Rinse them out in the sink before you wash and then just wash in the washer, and run through the dryer or better yet, dry on the clothesline. Hope you try it out!
Thanks so much for this post & info. It’s really appreciated. I’m definitely ordering one & trying it out. Not sure about it because I have trouble with extremely heavy periods & clotting. But it’s worth a try. Tampons have been failing me because of clotting issues, so maybe this will work.
If it does, I know I will appreciate saving all the money & having the assurance that I will always have something no matter what.