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A blog from the women of GladRags and our customers too.

Discussions on menstruation, environmental living, women's health, relevant politics, and other interesting matters - we like to go with the flow around here.

ellie print

 

Our newest print is arriving May 29th, and we need your help choosing a name for it! Simply comment on this blog post with your ideas, and we’ll pick our favorite–the winner will receive a GladRags Day Pad in this print as soon as it arrives. Feel free to submit as many names as you’d like! We’ll pick the winner on the 29th, and make this print available for purchase shortly after.

Not feeling inspired? Make sure you’re following us on Facebook for another chance to win, no creativity required :)

postpartum facts

I consider myself to have a pretty solid understanding of the human reproductive system, and especially how women’s bodies work. But! There are a few things I only came to know when I started working in reusable menstrual products (since I’ve yet to produce, grow and birth out my own tiny human). These 3 things blew my mind:

1. Postpartum bleeding. 

A baby and the placenta: that was my understanding of what came out of the vagina at the ultimate climactic, birthing moment of pregnancy. But it doesn’t end there, folks! After delivering the placenta, your body (which has drastically increased its blood supply during pregnancy) continues to bleed. And bleed. And bleed. Part of this blood comes from the blood vessels which held the placenta in place; the rest is lochia, which is a mixture of the remaining blood, uterine lining, and mucus. The flow of lochia lasts anywhere from three to six weeks!

2. How nipples work.

There’s not just one tube that predictably drips out milk, guys. It’s more like a showerhead. (I just said this aloud in the GladRags office and one individual who shall remain nameless gasped, “WHAAAT?!” and crossed her arms across her chest.) Breastmilk can drip slowly, or shoot out with uncontrollable force.

3. Pee happens.

This one isn’t limited just to women who have given birth. Light urinary leakage (aka stress incontinence) will happen to many women throughout their lifetimes and isn’t always attributed to childbirth. However, having a tiny human pressing on your bladder/urethra (and then the stress of pushing said tiny human out of your vagina) can definitely be a contributing factor! Sneezing, coughing, laughing, running, yoga, trampolining, yeah … drip drip drip!

Why don’t we talk about these things? If I hadn’t started working at GladRags back in 2009, would I not have learned about postpartum bleeding until it happened to me? How scary it must be to not know what is happening to your body. Let’s make women’s bodies–and the many strange and wonderful things they do!–be a topic of conversation this month. And, to celebrate Pregnancy Awareness Month, save 15% on the following items at GladRags.com from today through 5/24:

For postpartum bleeding:

For leaky boobs:

Putting the “pee” in “pantyliner”:

I really want to know: what most surprised you about pregnancy or postpartum? Tell me in the comments!

GladRagsWrapUp

During the month of April, we challenged you to share #onesmallchange you’ve made to help create a healthier, happier planet. You blew us away with your submissions! From reusable cotton makeup removers to bike riding and composting kitchen waste to stainless steel straws, together we’re making a big impact!

The contest is over (we gave away a reusable cotton pantyliner every of the month, and our ambassadors were entered to win Cloth Pad Sampler Kits), but we hope you’ll continue making more and more choices that change our world for the better! We were inspired by your passion to be good stewards of this earth, and hope that your momentum continues. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

kenyavillage

The gorgeous sunlight soon hid behind dark, looming clouds.  The Kenyan nurse kept looking nervously at the darkening sky and then shooting me shaky smiles, trying to tell me in very broken English that a storm was coming.

I didn’t panic immediately.  I had no idea what time it was, but we would be swooped up by the giant steel bird at any moment, right?  Right. Because I was very poorly prepared to spend the night in the mountains where I could barely communicate with anyone about my bleeding uterus.  I could hold my pee for another 12 hours. Skipping a few meals was not even a little bit of a problem.  I had enough clean water for 24 hours if I rationed well. But I couldn’t figure out a way around The Tampon Problem.

The sky started spitting on us and we heard the helicopter whirring in the distance.  The nurse and I packed up quickly, made the short hike back to the clearing just in time to meet the helicopter.  The pilot got out, threw our bags in the luggage compartment, dumped out all of our drinking water, and we were zipping through the air two minutes later trying to outrun the imminent storm.

Read Carrie’s full story on her blog at Our Stable Table… (Seriously. This may be the most epic period story you’ll ever read. AND there’s a giveaway! Check it out!)

MH Day Logo

Menstrual Hygiene Day is May 28th

May 28th, 2014 marked the first annual Menstrual Hygiene Day. Celebrations were held all over the world, from India to Uganda to Germany to right here in Portland, Oregon. We held our own event at a local feminist bookstore, where we screened the film Monthlies and held a group discussion about periods–check out photos from our event here!

We celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day because menstruation matters. Why? Because every girl deserves to go to school, even when she’s on her period. Because every woman deserves to live free from shame. Because menstruation is part of the process that creates life. Why wouldn’t menstruation matter?

And yet, we so rarely talk about menstruation! Maybe in hushed tones, in the ladies’ room, when we ask a stranger for a tampon. Or shyly, to our mothers, when we start our cycles and need supplies. Maybe it’s time we speak up.

This May 28th, we invite you to host a gathering in your community to celebrate Menstrual Hygiene Day with us. The way you celebrate will be unique to your community, but we’ve collected some ideas for you below. We hope you’ll announce your event on the official Menstrual Hygiene Day website and get in touch with us to let us know what you’re up to. Make sure to take photos at your event and tag them #gladragspads on social so we can see them!

Not up for hosting? Help a friend make the switch to cloth pads. When you spend $20 on GladRags.com for yourself, we’ll include a free GladRags pantyliner for you to pass on to someone in your community. Just enter coupon code MHDAY during the month of May to redeem your pantyliner.

mh-day

Get Involved

  • Use #menstruationmatters on social media and start the conversation about why periods are important.
  • Host a gathering and use these handy 28+ conversation starters to get a dialogue going! Pro tip: start by establishing some boundaries that help participants feel safe sharing. Creating a judgment-free space — and assuring participants that their viewpoints will be treated respectfully by all — goes a long way in having an engaging discussion.
  • Share the Menstrual Hygiene Day infographic (see below) on social media to educate your friends about why menstruation matters.
  • Download activity guides and templates here and here.
  • Follow GladRags on Pinterest for boards and pins to motivate, inspire, and share.
  • Official GladRags Ambassadors can contact us for demo products, door prizes, stickers, etc for their event once they have a confirmed guest list with a minimum of 8 attendees.

MH DAY infographics

In my mind, our cycles are like well-worn paths through time and space. The moon circles the earth. Seasons follow one another. Tides come in and recede, yin transforms to yang. Each month our bodies reflect these natural rhythms.

Our cycles are one of the top indicators of overall health. For the most part, things flow smoothly. When they don’t, most of us reach for our old friend ibuprofen–hey, I’ve done it myself from time to time! But I’ve learned over the years that by engaging with my cycle I develop this amazing relationship with it.

13Ways

Showing my body the honor and reverence it deserves have helped me heal my cycle beyond measure. Here are the top thirteen ways I give back to myself every month:

1. Create a special place for yourself. This could be an altar dedicated to your moon time, a quiet corner of your home with a comfortable chair, or a place outdoors. Whatever it is, make it yours and return to it each month. Use it as you will: you can sit quietly, journal, meditate, enjoy a cup of your favorite herbal tea… whatever you need to do! By creating this space that you return to monthly, you send a subtle message that when you are in this space, it is “you” time.

2. Follow your cycle with a calendar. Engage in the entirety of your cycle: learn how long it is and how many days you bleed. How do you feel when you are ovulating or just after your period ends? Over time, this gives you insight into your unique cycle. You won’t have surprises month after month, and you’ll gain insight into how to shift what needs shifting.

3. Keep yourself warm. According to Chinese Medical Theory, when we are bleeding our blood moves deeper into our bodies and then begins to flow, leaving our outermost layers more exposed. Cover up! Try wearing a red scarf or hat. Focused heat on your lower back or abdomen can help ease cramps as well.

4. Take a gentle walk in the woods or other favorite outdoor spot….by yourself! This one kills two birds with one stone: you get some much-needed alone time to relax, reflect and just be, and the gentle exercise keeps your Qi flowing smoothly.

5. Eat healthy, nourishing meals. You may try to incorporate some red foods. Or (bonus points!) cook yourself up a big pot of something BEFORE you start bleeding. This way you can take it easy and take care of yourself all at once.

6. Notice how you think and feel about your bleeding time. Do you love it? Hate it? Would you just rather not think of it at all? Where did these feelings come from?

7. Return your blood to the earth. Our monthly blood is full of nutrients and stem cells that plants and microbes love. This is an opportunity for you to consciously give to the nutrient cycle. You can soak your reusable cloth pads in a jar of water and use that water for your garden or houseplants, or simply empty your menstrual cup into a container that you use to water plants.

8. Use this as a time of self-reflection. Is there anything you need to let go of?

9. Look at the big picture. Notice how you feel throughout your cycle. Take time for self care BEFORE you need it.

10. Get some rest. Your body is doing some intense work. Not only are you experiencing a blood loss but Qi moves the blood. Allow space for both to replenish.

11. Look at the moon. What phase is it in? Was it in this phase the last time you bled?

12. Give thanks. You experience an amazing microcosmic representation of the unending cycles of birth, growth, death and rebirth! Inside your body! You bleed–without getting sick and dying! Your monthly bleeding represents you ability to create new life, or whatever creative endeavor you like.

13. Just be.

About the author of this post:

martha eden

Martha is a Chinese herbalist and woman’s health educator. She draws on a background in Chinese medicine and ecology to give woman the information they need to heal them selves. Martha started www.jade-circle.net as a resource for women to find the information they need to connect with their innate beings.

 

 

Happy Earth Day!

Our annual Earth Day Sale starts today: pick up any of the fabulously eco-friendly items on GladRags.com by Monday at midnight and automatically get these discounts applied to your cart:

$5 OFF orders of $40
$10 OFF orders over $75
$20 OFF orders over $150

SHOP EARTH DAY SALE ►

Win a Pantyliner

We’re giving away a pantyliner every day this month! Just make #onesmallchange to build a healthier world, then share it on social. Full giveaway details on the GladRags blog. Here are a few of our favorite submissions so far (your posts don’t have to be this cute, but it sure doesn’t hurt!):

3smallchanges

(click to embiggen)

Celebrate our Planet

We’re spending part of today volunteering with C.R.O.P.S. (Community Reaps Our Produce and Shares), an organic farm built on vacant land owned by the county. We’ll be helping with weeding and harvesting the produce that is donated to the Oregon Food Bank by this community farm. Follow us on Instagram to see us getting muddy for a good cause, and leave us a blog comment to tell us what you’re doing this Earth Day!

whats-in-your-tampon

Here at GladRags HQ, we stumble across a lot of “fun” facts about disposable pads and tampons. Such as:

“In California, it is now illegal to feed the leaves, stems, and short fibers of cotton known as ‘gin trash’ to livestock, because of the concentrated levels of pesticide residue. Instead, this gin trash is used to make furniture, mattresses, swabs, cotton balls and tampons.

The cotton is too tainted by pesticides to feed to animals, but is totally fine for your hoo-ha?! Ugh. This delightful tidbit inspired Meagan to do a little extra research on the pesticide residues left in conventional tampons.

In her research, she found that NaturallySavvy.com sent a conventional tampon to a third party testing facility to test for pesticide residue.

Horror ensues, as the following pesticides are discovered: Malaoxon & Malathion: 1 ppm, Dichlofluanid: 1 ppm, Mecarbam: 6 ppm, Procymidone: 37 ppm, Methidathion: 5 ppm, Fensulfothion: 5 ppm, Pyrethrum: 66 ppm, Piperonyl Butoxide: 1 ppm.

Naturally Savvy breaks down each pesticide in their article, but here’s a nasty tale of only one of the pesticides found in tampons:

Procymidone: Found in relatively high amounts in our sample, it’s poisonous if absorbed through the skin, inhaled, or swallowed. It’s a possible liver and testes toxicant, which may also cause reproductive and developmental toxicity. It causes birth defects in some animals. Procymidone is listed on the State of California Propositions 65 Carcinogen List and the EPA’s carcinogen list. It’s also listed on the EU list of potential endocrine disruptors.

Meagan’s conclusion? “If I was stranded on a desert island upon which a lifetime supply of tampons had spilled and I was without my Moon Cup and GladRags, I would choose to free bleed on the sand. I would rather subject myself to a sticky, plastic pad than a tampon. I wouldn’t offer a tampon to my worst enemy. #byetampons”

tampon-worst-enemy

A note about organic tampons: After learning about the uglier side of conventional tampons, you may think that organic cotton tampons are the best solution – and they’re certainly much better! But better doesn’t mean best, especially when it comes to caring for the planet. Most are made of biodegradable ingredients, but because they’re a disposable item you’re going to need to eventually buy more. And more. And even more. If you consider the energy used in an organic tampon’s lifetime, from creation in a factory to transportation to your local store, then you’ll realize that they’re still much more of a drain on our natural resources than reusable pads or menstrual cups.

Sources:

    1.  Article 2, Section 2678 of the California Code of Regulations via http://www.bodyfueling.net/ARTICLES/cotton1.html
    2. http://naturallysavvy.com/care/is-there-pesticide-residue-on-your-tampons-our-independent-testing-gets-specific
    3. http://naturallysavvy.com/care/conventional-cotton-tampons-and-pesticides

FamilyCloth

We’re all about reusables here in the GladRags office, and you’d be hard pressed to find a disposable item (whether a paper tissue, plastic water bottle, or a tampon) in any of our purses or bags. But there is one final frontier for even the most die-hard reusable advocates…. TOILET PAPER.

A lot of folks refer to reusable toilet paper as “family cloth” but I have to say, I’m not a fan. The name is a spin-off of “mama cloth,” a term used for cloth pads (versus cloth diapers). I’ve never loved the phrase “mama cloth” because menstruation isn’t just for mamas! So for the purpose of this blog post, we’ll skip using the phrase family cloth and instead use the much classier terms: “pee wipes” and “poo wipes.”

Okay, so we’re clear on the terminology (you can’t get much more straightforward than “pee wipes,” honestly), how about the concept? It makes sense, especially to those familiar with the concepts of cloth diapering and reusable menstrual products: why waste paper when you could use cloth? Excessive toilet paper waste is expensive, wasteful, and can cause septic system problems. So sure, I can see why using cloth wipes makes sense.

In fact, I actually tried to use pee wipes for a while. I thought about poo wipes, but I just… couldn’t. In small part because it squicked me out, but largely because I share a few very old, awful washing machines with my neighbors and it seemed rude. I figured my pee was sterile and no one would be the wiser… and they wouldn’t have known, if I hadn’t loudly proclaimed to all of them “guess what I’m trying now!!!”

My pee wipes set up was pretty similar to most people: I had a little basket full of cloths (they were GladRags inserts, the perfect size!) next to the toilet, along with a small wet bag. Initially, I had to train myself not to drop the inserts right into the toilet, but it was a pretty quick learning curve. I washed the inserts as needed, but the cost of my coin-op laundry added up quickly and it was kind of a pain compared to washing my cloth pads once a month.

My verdict: I’d totally go back to pee wipes in the future, if I had my own washer and dryer. I’m still unsure about poo, which I’m totally okay with.

We asked our Facebook community about reusable toilet paper and got some great responses! Here’s a small sampling what our followers had to say:

“I use family cloth for myself (pee only) and you would be shocked at how much tp we save!! Instead of going through 3-4 rolls a week, we only go through 1 or 2 at the most.” – Allie

“9 years and counting! There’s a basket of cloth in front of the toilet and when they are used they go in a basket on the side of the toilet. They are washed in hot with an extra rinse (because my washer has a setting. I’ve made the wipes from flannel (old sheets, old pajama pants, flannel fabric, sometimes old towels but they never last, etc) for these 9 years.” – Amanda

I haven’t had any stains. If there’s a lot of “residue” they get treated like poopy diapers, which is they get scrubbed in the toilet with a toilet brush to get it off first before they get thrown into the pail. Washing (since they are washed with the diapers) entails a prewash with a little bit of a detergent and then a heavy duty wash with a full cap.” – Robin

“We use family cloth. Started out with cloth diapering, then cloth wipes, then family cloth. WE LOVE IT! Just use the wipes and toss them in with the diaper laundry and we are good to go. When we don’t have anyone in diapers anymore we will continue. It is so much nice for our skin, better for the environment, and saves a ton of money on toilet paper. Give it a try if you are skeptical. You will be amazed at how nice it is.” – Tricia

“Yes we do!! And I hate “going” away from home because of it. We have baby washcloths as wipes, kept under the sink, and they go right in a wet bag (left over from our cloth diaper days). I wash on hot with towels.” – Amy

I don’t use tp OR cloth — I use my bidet, and I adore it! Clean water beats wiping with anything every time. They are cheap and easy to install, they go right in your existing toilet and hook up to either hot or cold water sources. Flip of a switch, and fresh, clean water rinses away all excrement from your privates and you are cleaner than if you wiped, because there are no smears left behind anywhere. I wish bidet toilets were mandatory in all toilets everywhere! I hate having to use restrooms in public or at other peoples’ houses now!” – Josie

“I usually use paper but I’ve got the wipes set up and wet on the back of the toilet for anyone to use. Ironically I use them most often for #2 and I see most don’t. Ha!” – Sam

“My daughter and I have used it for years, love it! I keep a basket on the back of the toilet with clothes wipes stacked in it, and a small wetbag hangs from the toilet paper holder. I wash on hot when the bag gets full. Saves so much TP!” – Julea

What do you think? Have you tried it?

What would you say if an organic, ethical fashion boutique asked you to help model their new selection for spring? Um, YES PLEASE. Our little team was lucky enough to show off woman-owned and Portland-based Gaia Couture’s elegant and comfy spring selection.

We thought we’d share some of our favorite shots with you, and give you a little peek into the world of GladRags! Jealous of our outfits? Score your own from Gaia Couture for 20% off during the month of April with coupon code GLADRAGS.

heidi at gladrags

This is Heidi (and her beautiful curly hair). Heidi is our bookkeeper and has the best posture of anyone in the office.

tracy at gladrags

Here’s me. Let’s pretend that my job is to hug cloth pads and laugh about it, because I’m clearly really good at that.

meagan at gladrags

Meagan, our director of customer happiness, has seen nearly every season of America’s Next Top Model, and it shows.

eliana at gladrags

Every time you place an order, Eliana picks up a pad with wings (and then ships it to you).

tracy and eliana

Consider this shot our foray into business stock photos. I think I was saying, “look at this paper, Eliana. I highlighted some things on it for you.” We may be corny, but at least we look cute.

IMG_9886

Heidi’s favorite part of her job is definitely when she has to do inventory. Definitely.

team gladrags

This picture is my favorite from the day and honestly gets me a little misty-eyed. I’m so proud to be working with this tiny team of hard-working ladies to make GladRags bigger and better every day. As a little girl, I never would have dreamed of being a “boss.” I’m still learning what it means to be a boss (and more importantly, a good one), and I’m so grateful to have this amazing team that’s growing and learning with me.